The Popes and European Revolution

By Owen Chadwick | Go to book overview

2 The Clergy

Numbers of Clergy

The number of clergy was great. Southern Italy without Sicily had in 1740 between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 people, 50,000 secular priests, and 31,000 monks or friars or regular canons. The average, if the religious orders are omitted, was one priest to less than 100 people. (If the monasteries were included, and the erroneous assumption made that all monks were priests, it would have been one priest to about sixty people.) A population of 30,000 might be served by 400 priests, not including monks. In 1762 the diocese of St. Agatha of the Goths, with 30,000 people, had thirteen monasteries all claiming some form of exemption from the bishop; a cathedral and another large collegiate church, a total of sixty-six priests, each claiming more moderate forms of exemption. And although the parishes looked to be over-staffed—Airola had eighty priests and 6,000 people—many of the priests were chaplains living on an endowment to say mass, and had no pastoral duties. For Imola in the north we have the 1797 census of people and the 1765 list of clergy—more than thirty years apart but they give a comparison. The diocese had 128 parishes with 94,000 people—that is, an average parish had 736 parishioners. To serve these 128 parishes were between 200 and 250 clergy—that is, in modern anachronistic terms, each parish of 736 parishioners had both a vicar and a curate. But no one must think that the 250 parish priests were all the clergymen in the diocese. The total number of clergy in 1765 was 979 priests—and if we deduct our 250 parish clergy that leaves 729 non-parochial clergy. Of course we must count the bishop and his staff; and the cathedral chapter, and another collegiate chapter at Lugo, so that altogether the diocese had fifty-two canons; but when we have subtracted everyone we can think of, and remember that hardly anyone retired (so some were ill or senile), we are still left with more than 600 clergymen not canons, not serving parishes, and not on the bishop's staff; nearly three times the number of clergy engaged in the parishes. 1

These were the numbers of secular clergy. In addition the diocese

-96-

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The Popes and European Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Popes and European Revolution iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations x
  • Part I the Church of the Old Regime 1
  • 1: The Religion of the People 3
  • 2: The Clergy 96
  • 3: Monks and Nuns 210
  • 4: The Office of the Pope 253
  • Part II Reform and Revolution 343
  • 5: The Fall of the Jesuits 345
  • 6: The Catholic Reformers 391
  • 7: Revolution 445
  • 8: Restoration 535
  • 9: Conclusion 609
  • Bibliography 614
  • Index 633
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