Pope Innocent XII
Innocent XII, né Antonio Pignatelli (March 13, 1615 - September 27, 1700) pope from 1691 to 1700, was the successor of Alexander VIII. He came of a distinguished Neapolitan family and was educated at the Jesuit college in Rome, he in his twentieth year became an official of the court of Urban VIII; under successive popes he served as nuncio at Florence and Vienna and in Poland; and by Innocent XI he was made cardinal in 1681 and archbishop of Naples. After the conclave after the death of Alexander VIII had gone on for 5 months he was a compromise candidate between the cardinals of France and the Holy Roman Empire.
Immediately after his election on July 12, 1691, he declared against the nepotism which had too much and too long been one of the greatest scandals of the Papacy; the bull Romanum decet Pontificem, issued in 1692, prohibited popes in all times from bestowing estates, offices, or revenues on any relative; furthermore, only one relative, if otherwise suitable, was to be raised to the cardinalate. At the same time he sought to check the simoniacal practices of the apostolic chamber, and in connection with this to introduce a simpler and more economical manner of life into his court. He said that 'the poor were his nephews', comparing his public benificence to the nepotism of many predecessors.
He introduced various much-needed reforms into the States of the Church, and for the better administration of justice erected the Forum Innocentianum. In 1693 he compelled the French bishops to retract the four propositions relating to the "Gallican Liberties" which had been formulated by the assembly of 1682. In 1699, he decided in favour of Jacques-Benigne Bossuet in that prelate's controversy with Fénelon about the Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie Intérieure of the latter. His pontificate contrasted with that of a series of predecessors in having marked leanings towards France instead of Germany. This benevolent, self-abnegating and pious pope died on September 27, 1700 and was succeeded by Clement XI
- Original text from the 9th edition (1880) of the Encyclopedia Britannica