- Pope Gregory XVI
Gregory XVI Papacy began 2 February 1831 Papacy ended 1 June 1846
( 15 years, 119 days)
Predecessor Pius VIII Successor Pius IX Orders Ordination 1787 Consecration 6 February 1831
by Bartolomeo Pacca
Created Cardinal 13 March 1826 Personal details Birth name Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari Born 18 September 1765
Belluno, Republic of Venice
Died 1 June 1846(aged 80)
Rome, Papal State
Other Popes named Gregory
Pope Gregory XVI (18 September 1765 – 1 June 1846), born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, named Mauro as a member of the religious order of the Camaldolese, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 1831 to 1846. Strongly conservative and traditionalist, he opposed democratic and modernising reforms in the Papal States and throughout Europe, seeing them as fronts for revolutionary leftism, and sought to strengthen the religious and political authority of the papacy (see Ultramontanism).
Cappellari was born at Belluno on 18 September 1765 to a noble family. At an early age he joined the order of the Camaldolese (part of the Benedictine monastic family) and entered the Monastery of San Michele di Murano, near Venice. As a Camaldolese monk, Cappellari rapidly gained distinction for his theological and linguistic skills. His first appearance before a wider public was in 1799, when he published against the Italian Jansenists a controversial work entitled II Trionfo della Santa Sede, which, besides passing through several editions in Italy, has been translated into several European languages. In 1800 he became a member of the Academy of the Catholic Religion, founded by Pope Pius VII (1800–23), to which he contributed a number of memoirs on theological and philosophical questions, and in 1805 was made abbot of San Gregorio on the Caelian Hill in Rome.
These were not tranquil times, and when Pius VII was forcibly removed from Rome in 1809 on the orders of Napoleon, Cappellari went back to Murano, then in 1814, with a group of monks, moved to Padua. With the return of the papacy to Rome and to the sovereignty of the Papal States, Cappellari was called back to Rome as vicar general of the Camaldolese, then counsellor to the Inquisition, and finally Prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, which dealt with all mission territories other than in Latin America and the Spanish dominions, including non-Catholic states in Europe.
On 21 March 1825 he was created cardinal by Leo XII, and shortly afterwards was given the task of arranging a concordat to safeguard the rights of Catholics in the Low Countries. In this he was successful.
He negotiated peace on behalf of Armenian Catholics with the Ottoman Empire. He discouraged Polish revolutionaries who undermined Tsar Nicholas I's efforts to support the Catholic royalist cause in France, by the necessity of diverting troops to Poland.
Election as Pope
Papal styles of
Pope Gregory XVI
Reference style His Holiness Spoken style Your Holiness Religious style Holy Father Posthumous style none
On 2 February 1831, after sixty-four days of conclave, he was unexpectedly chosen to succeed Pope Pius VIII (1829–30) in the papal chair. His election was influenced by the fact that the cardinal considered the most likely papabile, Giacomo Giustiniani, was vetoed by King Ferdinand VII of Spain. The other major candidates, Cardinals Emmanuele De Gregorio and Bartolomeo Pacca, had been candidates in the previous conclave. When a deadlock arose between them, the cardinals turned to Cappellari, but it took as many as eighty-three ballots for a decisive result to be obtained.
At the time of election, Cardinal Cappellari was not yet a bishop—the last man to be elected Pope without episcopal consecration. Hence, after his election he was consecrated bishop by Bartolomeo Pacca, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, with Pier Francesco Galleffi, Cardinal Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina, sub-dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, and Tommasso Arezzo, Cardinal Bishop of Sabina, acting as co-consecrators.
The choice of Gregory XVI as his regnal name was influenced by the fact that he had been abbot of San Gregorio monastery on the Coelian Hill for over twenty years. This was the same abbey from which Pope Gregory the Great had dispatched missionaries to England in 596.
The Revolution of 1830 which overthrew the House of Bourbon had just inflicted a severe blow on the Catholic royalist party in France, and almost the first act of the new government there was to seize Ancona, thus throwing Italy, and particularly the Papal States, into an excited condition which seemed to demand strongly defensive measures. In the course of the struggle which ensued, it was more than once necessary to call in Austrian defenders against red-shirted republicans engaged in a terrorist campaign. The conservatives postponed their promised reforms after bombings and assassination attempts. Nor did the replacement of Tommaso Bernetti by Luigi Lambruschini in 1836 mend matters.
Pope Gregory and Cardinal Lambruschini opposed basic technological innovations such as gas lighting and railways, believing that they would promote commerce and increase the power of the bourgeoisie, leading to demands for liberal reforms which would undermine the monarchical power of the Pope over central Italy. Gregory in fact banned railways in the Papal States, calling them chemins d'enfer (literally "ways of hell," a play on the French for railroad, chemin de fer, literally "iron road"). However, under pressure from the French, Gregory was liberal in forgiving imprisoned revolutionaries, a policy which might have aided the final overthrow of Gregory's successor, Pope Pius IX, as temporal ruler in 1870.
Gregory XVI made great expenditures for defensive, architectural and engineering works, and was a major patron of learning in the hands of Angelo Mai, Giuseppe Mezzofanti, Gaetano Moroni. However, these large expenditures left the Papal States much weaker financially.
The insurrections at Viterbo in 1836, in various parts of the Legations in 1840, at Ravenna in 1843 and Rimini in 1845, were followed by wholesale executions and severe sentences, hard labour or exile; still the Papal States continued to have considerable unrest.
Condemnation of the slave trade
“ [W]e have judged that it belonged to Our pastoral solicitude to exert Ourselves to turn away the Faithful from the inhuman slave trade in Negroes and all other men. [...] [D]esiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. Further, in the hope of gain, propositions of purchase being made to the first owners of the Blacks, dissensions and almost perpetual conflicts are aroused in these regions.
We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.
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Giulio Maria della Somaglia
Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith
Carlo Maria Pedicini
Bl. Pius IX
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