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Clement XIII

Pope from 1758. Carlo della Torre Rezzonico, born in Venice, studied at the Jesuit college at Bologna, and became doctor of theology and canon law at Padua. He was ordained and appointed governor of Rieti (1716) and of Fano (1721). Benedict XIII called him to Rome (1725) and made him auditor of the Rota for Venice (1729). Created cardinal by Clement XII (1737), he became bishop of Padua (1743). He was elected pope at a time when the papacy’s prestige was declining and the Jesuits were under attack. He took up the cause of the Jesuits, to whom he owed his election. Portugal expelled them and severed relations with Rome (1760), while France demanded drastic alterations in the Jesuit constitution (1761). Clement refused this demand in the famous words “Let them be as they are or not be.” Louis XV abolished the order in France (1764), and Clement responded by the bull Apostolicum pascendi munus (1765). The Jesuits were expelled from Spain, Naples, and Malta; Parma ordered a commission to investigate monastic charters. As traditional suzerain of the duchy of Parma, Clement attempted to reassert temporal power there (1768), but found himself faced with the seizure of Avignon, Benevento, and Ponte Corvo, and an almost universal call for the suppression of the Jesuits. He consented to call a consistory, but died almost immediately of apoplexy. The suppression was effected by his successor, Clement XIV,* in 1773.