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Posted By Randy Mancini     July 3, 2020    

The term comes from Italian word nepotism, which is based on Latin root nepos meaning nephew.[4] Since the Middle Ages and until the late 17th century, some Catholic popes and bishops, who had taken vows of chastity, and therefore usually had no legitimate offspring of their own, gave their nephews such positions of preference as were often accorded by fathers to son.

Several popes elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Often, such appointments were a means of continuing a papal "dynasty". For instance, Pope Callixtus III, head of the Borgia family, made two of his nephew's cardinals; one of them, Rodrigo, later used his position as a cardinal as a stepping stone to the papacy, becoming Pope Alexander VI. Alexander then elevated Alessandro Farnese, his mistress's brother, to cardinal; Farnese would later go on to become Pope Paul III.

Paul III also engaged in nepotism, appointing, for instance, two nephews, aged 14 and 16, as cardinals. The practice was finally limited when Pope Innocent XII issued the bull Romanum decent Pontificem, in 1692.[5] The papal bull prohibited popes in all times from bestowing estates, offices, or revenues on any relative, with the exception that one qualified relative (at most) could be made a cardinal.


In the second book of the Kural literature, which forms a manual for governments and corporations, Valluvar suggests nepotism and favoritism thus: "If you choose an unfit person for your job just because you love and you like him, he will lead you to endless follies. According to him, nepotism is both evil and unwise.

    • Last updated July 3, 2020
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