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Catholic Dictionary




Preferment in ecclesiastical practice based on blood or family relationship rather than merit. Applied especially to the conferral of Church offices. Historically nepotism plagued the Church for centuries, was practiced by some of the popes, many bishops, and was one of the factors that led to the legislation of celibacy in the Western Church and to the Protestant Reformation. The most important legislation against nepotism was the bull Romanum decet Pontificem in 1692, of Pope Innocent XII. (Etym. Latin nepos, nephew.)