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XVI. SECT. III.
Cent. and they are employed in the choice of a successor
to the deceased pontiff, are shut up and closely
[a] See Jo. Frid. Mayeri Commentarius de Electione Pontif. Romani, published in 4to at Hamburg, in the year 1691. The ceremonial observed in the election and installation is amply described by Meuschenius, in a work published at Francfort in the year 1732, under the following title: Ceremoniale Electionis et Coronationis Pontificis Romani.
 The great obstacle that prevents several cardinals from aspiring at the pontificate, is what they call at Rome, il peccato originale, or original sin. This mark of exclusion belongs to those who are born subjects of some crown, or republic, which is not within the bounds of Italy, or which are upon a footing of jealousy with the court of Rome. Those also who were made cardinals by the nomination of the kings of France or Spain, or their adherents, are also included in this imputation of original sin, which excludes from the papal chair. The accidental circumstances that exclude certain cardinals from the pontificate, are their being born princes or independent sovereigns, or their declaring themselves openly in favour of certain courts, or their family's being too numerous, or their morals being irregular. Even youth, and a good complexion and figure, are considered as obstacles. But all these maxims and rules vary and change according to the inconstant and precarious impulse of policy and faction.
For an account of the different methods of electing the pope, whether by compromise, inspiration, scrutiny, or access (by which latter is meant a second election, employed when the other methods fail); see Aymon, Tableau de la Cour de Rome, edit. 2do. p. 40, &c.
lation, or imperceptibly through custom, the pri
CENT. vilege of excluding from the number of the can- sect. ill. didates for this high office, such as they think Part I. proper to oppose or dislike. Hence it often happens, that, in the numerous college of cardinals, a very small number are permitted, upon a vacancy to aspire at the papacy; the greatest part being generally prevented by their birth, their character, their circumstances, and, by the force of political intrigues, from flattering themselves with the pleasing hope of ascending that towering summit of ecclesiastical power and dominion.
II. It must not be imagined, that the personal The power power and authority of the Roman pontiff are cir- of the pope cumscribed by no limits; since it is well known, that, in all his decisions relating to the government of the church, he previously consults the brethren, i. e. the cardinals, who compose his ministry or privy council. Nay more, in matters of religious controversy and doctrine, he is obliged to ask the advice and opinion of eminent divines, in order to secure his pretended infallibility from the suggestions of error. Besides this, all matters, that are not of the highest moment and importance, are divided, according to their respective nature, into certain classes, and left to the management of certain colleges, called Congregations [c],
in [c] These congregations are as follow : I. The
congregation of the Pope, instituted first by Sixtus V. to
the matters that were to be brought before the Consistory, at which the pontiff is always present. Hence this is called the Consistorial Congregation, and in it are treated all affairs relative to the election of bishoprics and cathedral churches, the reunion or suppression of episcopal fees, the alienation of church goods, and the taxes and annates that are imposed upon all benefices in the pope's giving. The cardinal-dean presides in this assembly. Il. The congregation of the Inquisition, or (as it is otherwise called) of the Holy Office, instituted by Paul III. which takes cognizance of heresies, apostacy, magic, and profane writings, which assemble thrice in the week, and every Thursday in presence of the pope, who presides in it. The office of Grand Inquisitor, which encroached upon the
CENT. in every one of which, one or more cardinals preXVI.
side. SECT. III.
prerogatives of the pontiff, has been long suppressed, or rather PART 1. distributed among the cardinals who belong to this congrega
tion, and whose decisions come under the supreme cognizance of his Holiness. III. The congregation for the propagation of the Roman Catholic Faith, founded under the pontificate of Gregory XV. composed of eighteen cardinals, one of the secretaries of state, a prothonotary, a secretary of the inquisition, and other members of less rank. Here it is that the deliberations are carried on, which relate to the extirpation of heresy, the appointment of missionaries, &c. This congregation has built a most beautiful and magnificent palace in one of the most agreeable situations that could be chosen at Rome, where proselytes to popery from foreign countries are lodged and nourished gratis, in a manner suitable to their rank and condition, and instructed in those branches of knowledge to which the bent of their genius points. The prelates, curates, and vicars also, who are obliged, without any fault of theirs, to abandon the places of their residence, are entere tained charitably in this noble edifice in a manner proportioned to their station in the church. IV. The congregation designed to explain the decisions of the council of Trent. V. The congregation of the Index, whose principal business is to examine manuscripts and books that are designed for publication, to decide whether the people may be permitted to read them, to correct those books whose errors are not numerous, and which contain useful and salutary truths, to condemn those whose principles are heretical and pernicious, and to grant the peculiar privilege of perusing heretical books to certain persons. This congregation, which is sometimes held in the presence of the pope, but generally in the palace of the cardinal-president, has a more extensive jurisdiction than that of the inquisition, as it not only takes cognizance of those books that contain doctrines contrary to the Roman Catholic faith, but of those also that concern the duties of morality, the discipline of the church, and the interests of society. Its name is derived from the alphabetical tables, or indexes of heretical books and authors, which have been composed by its appointment. VI. The congregation for maintaining the rights and immunities of the clergy, and of the Knights of Malla. This congregation was formed by Urban VIII. to decide the disputes, and remove the difficulties and inconveniences that arose from the trials of ecclesiastics before princes, or other lay-judges. VII. The congregations relating to the Bishops and regular Clergy, instituted by Sixtus V. to decide the debates which arise between the bishops and their diocesans, and to compose the differences that happened so
side [d]. The decisions of these societies are ge- XVI.
CENT. nerally approved of by the Roman pontiff
, who sect. III. has not a right, without alleging the most part I.
weighty frequently among the monastic orders. VIII. The congregation, appointed by Gregory XIV. for examining into the capacity and learning of the bishops. IX. Another for enquiring into their lives and morals. X. A third for obliging them to reside in their dioceses, or to dispense them from that obligation. XI. The congregation for suppressing monasteries, i. e. such whose revenues are exhausted, and who thereby become a charge upon the public. XII. The congregation of the Apostolic Visitation, which names the visitors, who perform the duties and visitations of the churches and convents within the district of Rome, to which the pope is obliged as archbishop of that city. XIII. The congregation of Relics, designed to examine the marks, and to augment the number of these instruments of superstition. XIV. The congregations of Indulgences, designed to examine the case of those who have recourse to this method of quieting the conscience. XV. The congregation of Rites, which Sixtus V. appointed to regulate and invent the religious ceremonies that are to be observed in the worship of each new saint that is added to the Kalendar.
These are the congregations of cardinals, set apart for administering the spiritual affairs of the church; and they are undoubtedly, in some respects, a check upon
the power of the pontiff, enormous as it may be. There are six more, which relate to the temporal government of the papal territories. In these congregations, where the pope is never present, all things are transacted which relate to the execution of public justice in civil or criminal matters, the levying of taxes, the providing the cities and provinces with good governors, the relieving those who are unjustly oppressed by subordinate magistrates, the coinage, the care of the rivers, aqueducts, bridges, roads, churches, and public edifices.
[a] The court of Rome is very particularly and accurately described by Aymon (who had been, before his conversion to the protestant religion, domestic chaplain to Innocent XI.) in a book entitled, Tableau de la Cour de Rome, of which the first edition was published at the Hague, in 8vo, in the year 1707, and the second in 1726.-See also Relation de la Cour de Rome, et des Ceremonies qui s'y observent, which father Labat has translated into French, from the Italian of Jerome Limadoro, and subjoined to his Voyages en Espagne et Italie, tom. viii. p. 105.- For an account of the Roman congregations, &c. see Doroth. Ascian. De Montibus Pietatis Romanis. p. 510. as also Hunold. Plettenberg, Notitia Tribunal. et Congregat. Curicæ Romanæ, Hildesiæ, in 8vo, 1693.
XVI. SECT. III. PART I.
CENT. weighty and evident reasons, to reverse what they
pronounce to be just and expedient. This form of ecclesiastical government is, doubtless, a check to the authority of the pope; and hence it is, that many things are transacted at Rome in a manner that is in direct opposition to the sentiments of its spiritual ruler. This may serve to shew us, that those persons are little acquainted with the nature and limits of the papal hierarchy, who pretend, that all the iniquitous proceedings of the court of Rome, the calamities it has occasioned, the contentions, rebellions, and tumults it has excited, are to be entirely and wholly laid to the charge of the Roman pontiff [e].
III. The power of the Roman pontiff hath excerning the cited debates even among those that are under the power of papal hierarchy; and the spiritual subjects of this pontiff. pretended head of the church, are very far from
being agreed with respect to the extent of his authority and jurisdiction. Hence it happens, that this authority and dominion are not the same in all places, having a larger scope in some provinces, and being reduced within narrower bounds in others. If, indeed, we consider only the pretensions of the pontiff, then we shall find that his power is unlimited and supreme; for there are no prerogatives that can flatter ambition, which he does not claim for himself and his court. He not only pretends, that the whole power and majesty
Debates arise con
[e] Hence arises that important distinction, frequently employed by the French and other nations in their debates with the Roman pontiff ; I mean, the distinction between the Pope of Rome and the Court of Rome. The latter is often loaded with the bitterest reproaches and the heaviest accusations, while the former is spared, and in some measure excused. Nor is this distinction by any means groundless; since the cardinals and congregations, whose rights and privileges are held sacred, undertake and execute many projects without the knowledge, and sometimes against the will and consent, of the Roman pontiff.