THE HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION

 

THE CHURCH AND REFORM.

By

R. V. Laurence

 

 

THE necessity of reform and of a spiritual regeneration of Catholicism had been acknowledged again and again at the opening of the sixteenth century by men of high position in the Church. Time after time it was admitted by the Sacred College, and at each Conclave the whole body of Cardinals pledged themselves to reform. Commissions were appointed but nothing came of them; and the Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17), instead of reforming the evils that had resulted from excessive centralization, did little more than lay down the “plenitudo potestatis” of the papal monarchy with an insistency that had hitherto found expression only in the pages of curialist writers.

The vested interests of the officials of the Roman Court were in fact too strong for the forces working for reform; and the measures which might have obviated the schism and nipped the revolution in the bud were not taken until it was too late. The opponents of reform had the strength of a group of men working together with a definite knowledge of what they wanted to defend. The Catholic reformers on the other hand were scattered, voices in the desert, with no means of common action. Nor, when opportunities occurred to them, were they for long agreed as to the particular lines reform should take. The seeds of the later divisions among the Catholic reformers existed from the very first, and the course of events soon led to those differences becoming acute. For men desired reform from very different motives. The ascetic temperament saw nothing but the moral abuses and the corruption of the clergy; the humanist desired a greater freedom of thought, and a certain toleration of divergences of opinion which was abhorrent to the doctrinal reformer. The latter shared with the humanist the wish for a reconstruction of the traditional dogma, but wished to see the line between orthodoxy and heterodoxy drawn with no uncertain hand. Ultimately, two great parties evolved themselves among the Catholic reformers : the one desired conciliation and the discovery of a common ground on which the old and the new ideas might be harmonized; the other, while sharing with the former party its indignation at the moral corruption of the Church, yet parted company with it with regard to the reform of doctrine. The supremacy of St Thomas and of the great scholastics must be preserved, and the whole body of dogma which the Middle Ages had evolved must be retained. Concession of any kind was not to be heard of; and this party believed that a further increase of the powers of the Papacy and of the centralization of authority was the surest safeguard of the Church. The former party wished for a real Catholic reformation; the latter succeeded in reducing a movement which started with so great a promise to little more than a counter-reformation. It will be our purpose in this chapter to sketch the steps by which this was brought about, and all real reform, such as might have conciliated nascent Protestantism and preserved the unity of the Western Church, was made impossible.

 

The Oratory of Divine Love. [1521-2

 

The aspirations of scattered individuals for reform first found a nucleus and an organization in the “Oratory of Divine Love”, founded at Rome towards the end of the Pontificate of Leo X. This famous society numbered among its members some of the most learned prelates and upright laymen who were connected with the Court of Rome in that day. They met for prayer and meditation in the little church of Santi Silvestro e Dorotea in Trastevere and discussed means for the purification of the Church. Almost every tendency of thought and temperament among the Catholic reformers was to be found there. Caraffa and Sadoleto, Gaetano da Thiene and Giberti were alike members. The ascetic and the humanist, the practical and the doctrinal reformer met together and worked in harmony. Their numbers were some fifty or sixty in all. In the last years of the Pagan Renaissance, when its weaker elements were coming to the surface, and when decadence rather than a new interest in life was becoming its keynote, there was thus growing in numbers and influence a party full of promise for the future history of the Church. A stern and almost Puritan moral ideal was combined with a belief that there was no essential antagonism between faith and culture, between profane learning and Christian knowledge. As the great medieval theologians and scholastics had interpreted Christianity to their age, and had harmonized the divergent elements in the knowledge of their time, so now in the Oratory of Divine Love the feeling found expression that the work had to be done afresh, and that the new revelation given to men by the Renaissance must be incorporated into the system of Christian thought.

Nor was it only the desire for a closer alliance between Christianity and humanism which bound many of these men together. Augustine had always been a force in the medieval Church, and the Augustinian elements In its theology were ever again asserting themselves and claiming supremacy. The attraction of Augustine felt so strongly by Luther was not felt only by him. The end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries were marked by a renewed study of St Augustine in many quarters, and by a consequent revival of the Pauline ideas of Justification in different forms. As Reginald Pole said in one of his letters, the jewel which the Church had so long kept half concealed was again brought to light. This trend of thought found expression in the writings of Thomas de Vio, Cardinal Cajetan, and for some time was looked on with favor in the highest quarters of the Church. That section of the Oratory of Divine Love which wished to spiritualize theology and to deepen the bases of the Christian life found ample support in the accepted theology of the day.

Venice was the home from which came many of the thinkers of this type in the Oratory of Divine Love. After the Sack of Rome in 1527 its members were scattered; but in a short time many of them met again at Venice, where they found new recruits. The Senator Gasparo Contarini and Gregorio Cortese, Abbot of San Georgio Maggiore, were the most influential of the new members. Giberti had become Bishop of Verona in 1524, and his household became a new centre for the reforming movement. His administration of his diocese set an example to other prelates; and his reform of his clergy served in many ways as a model to the Fathers at Trent, though he himself did not live to take any active part in that assembly. At Padua Reginald Pole spent many years, and though he was only a layman his manner of life and conduct of his household were not unworthy to be compared with those of Giberti. The University of Padua numbered then among its teachers some of the most eminent scholars of the day, and it was one of the centres of the Christian Renaissance. Modena also was one of the strongholds of the Catholic reformers; Giovanni Morone, who afterwards with difficulty escaped the charge of heresy, was its Bishop. Sadoleto, Bishop of Carpentras, Gregorio Cortese, and other leaders of the movement either were Modenese or had been connected with Modena. The union of scholarship and holiness of life with zeal for practical reform, as exemplified in these men, is rare in the history of the Church.

The movement for reform from within thus inaugurated in Italy did not become a power in official circles in Rome until the pontificate of Paul III. The paper reforms of the Fifth Lateran remained a dead letter, while the good intentions of Adrian VI came to nothing. His reign, nevertheless, will ever be memorable from his confession that the source of the poison which was corrupting the whole Church was in the papal Court, nay even in the Pontiffs themselves. Ignorant of the world, ignorant of the forces at work in Rome itself, Adrian was helpless. If he had had any measure of success, his reforms would have been of a moral and practical kind alone. Having lived most of his life in cloisters, he knew little of the change that had come over human thought St Thomas was his master, and he did not wish to go beyond the work of the greatest of medieval thinkers. Adrian was a precursor of Caraffa and the later Counter-Reformation, rather than of the peace-loving Contarini and the learned Giberti.

 

Clement VII and Paul III. [1523-34

 

Clement VII, of the House of Medici, was well-meaning and wished to remove the worst abuses in the Church. The hell through which the Papacy passed during his pontificate was indeed paved with good intentions, but they all came to nothing. The cares of the temporal power and the interests of his family left little time for the reformation of society. Still in 1524 the Roman Congregation was set up to reform the clergy; but in the troublous years which followed, leading up to the Sack of Rome, little could be done. Giberti, who with Nicholas Schomberg, the Cardinal of Capua, appears to have influenced Clement’s policy in those early years of his reign, had little time to spare from secular affairs; and it was not until he finally retired to his Bishopric of Verona that he obtained an opportunity of playing the part of a reformer. Thus, while the Teutonic lands were rapidly falling away from the Church, nothing was done in Rome itself to heal the abuses which all men acknowledged to be crying for reform.

There was one remedy for the Church’s evils which was a nightmare to Clement. A reform of the Church by a free General Council was a cry which grew in intensity and sprang up from many quarters as Clement’s vacillating reign dragged on its way. Luther had appealed from the Pope to a free General Council; and the appeal was echoed in the German Diets. Charles himself took up the idea; but, as it soon came to be seen that what Charles meant by a General Council was very different from that desired by the Protestants, the enthusiasm for it soon cooled down in Germany; and the idea of a National Council for the settlement of the affairs of religion took its place. At times, when it was a useful weapon to be used against the Pope, Charles also gave the idea of a National Council his support; but he sincerely desired the convocation of an Ecumenical Council, and he fell back on the alternative only when the conduct of the Papacy forced his hands. General Councils had ominous memories for the Papacy since the days of Pisa, Constance, and Basel; and Clement no doubt felt that the government of the Church during his pontificate would not stand the ordeal of a public examination. General Councils were apt to get out of hand, and no one could foresee whither they might ultimately lead. Clement succeeded in putting off the evil day at the price of letting events in Germany take their own course.

With Clement’s successor, Alessandro Farnese, who took the title of Paul III (1534), a new era began; and at last the party of Catholic reformers found their opportunity. One of the first acts of the new Pope was to confer a Cardinal’s hat upon Gasparo Contarini; and soon after Caraffa, Sadoleto, and Pole also received the sacred purple. The leaders among the Catholic reformers were summoned to Rome. On January 30, 1536, a Bull was read in the Consistory for the reform of many of the papal offices, but it was not published; and in the summer of the same year Paul appointed a commission of nine to report on the reforms that were needful. The nine members of the commission were Contarini, Caraffa, Sadoleto, Giberti, Pole, Aleander, Federigo Fregoso, Gregorio Cortese, and the Master of the Sacred Palace, Tommaso Badia. Their report presented in 1537 is the well-known Consilium delectorum cardinalium et aliorum praelatorum de emendanda ecclesia. The great principle to which they return again and again is that laws ought not to be dispensed with save for grave cause, and that even then no money should be taken for dispensation. To the system of money payments they trace the chief evils of the Roman Court. Everything could be obtained for money, however hurtful it might be to the general welfare of the Church. The report does not confine itself to the evils at the fountain-head. The whole Church was infected with corruption. Unfit persons were habitually ordained and admitted to benefices. Pensions and charges were imposed upon the revenues of benefices which made it impossible for the holder to live an honest life. Expectatives and reservations had a demoralizing effect. Residence was generally neglected by the Bishops and clergy; and exemptions from the authority of the Ordinary enabled leaders of scandalous lives to persist in their wickedness. The regular clergy were no better than the seculars. Scandals were frequent in the religious Houses; and the privileges of the Orders enabled unfit persons to hear confessions. The Cardinals were as bad as the Bishops with regard to residence, and accumulated offices in their persons. Indulgences were excessive in number, and superstitious practices were too often encouraged. Much evil had followed from the granting of marriage dispensations; and absolutions for the sin of simony could be obtained for a mere song. In Rome itself the services were slovenly conducted and the whole priesthood was sordid. Loose women were openly received even in the houses of Cardinals. Unbelief grew apace, and unnecessary disputations on trivial points disturbed the faith of the vulgar. It was the duty of the Mother and Mistress of all Churches to lead the way in the amending of these evils.

Simultaneously with the appointment of this remarkable commission for reform Paul III published a Bull (May 29, 1536), summoning a General Council to meet at Mantua in May, 1537; and a Bull of Reformation was published in September, 1536. But the renewal of war prevented the Council from assembling, and its meeting was deferred. Meanwhile little was done to carry out the proposals of the reform commission. It was decided on the suggestion of the Cardinal of Capua, Nicholas Schomberg, not to publish the report, as it revealed so many grave scandals in connection with the Holy See. The document was however privately printed in Rome, and by some means a copy reached Germany. It was republished there with scoffing comments. This incident shows that there was little chance of any papal attempts at reform being regarded in Germany as seriously intended. A beginning was indeed made at Rome. The offices of the Datary, the Chancery, and the Penitentiary were overhauled; and a report signed by Contarini, Caraffa, Aleander, and Badia - the “Consilium quattuor delectorum a Paulo III super Reformatione sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae” - was in the autumn of 1537 presented to the Pope.

But in reality little seems to have been done. The General Council never met at Mantua. The Duke did not desire its presence in his territory; and the war between Charles and Francis made it practically impossible. The Council was then summoned to meet at Vicenza on May 1, 1538, but it again had to be postponed. It soon became clear that the Pope’s zeal for reform was rapidly waning. Contarini did his best to stir him up to action. In his “Epistola de potestate Pontifias in usu clavium” and in his “De potestate Pontificis in compositionibus” he emphasized the propositions that the Papacy was a sacred charge, and that its powers were to be used for the good of the Church and not to its destruction. In all Contarini’s writings the conception of the Papacy as a monarchy and not a tyranny appears. It is a monarchy over freemen, and its powers are to be used according to the light of reason. Though the Catholic reformers held strongly to the divine mission of the Papacy in the Church, they distinguished carefully between the legitimate and the illegitimate exercise of its authority. Freely the Papacy had received, freely it should give. The whole official system of the Curia with its fees and extortions had become a scandal. An iniquitous traffic in sacred things had grown up. Contarini appealed to the Pope to root out effectively this canker, which was destroying the spiritual life of the Church. In November, 1538, Contarini travelled with Paul III to Ostia, and they discussed his writings. “Our good old man”, as Contarini calls him in a letter to Pole, made him sit by his side, and talked with him about the reform of the compositiones. The Pope informed him that he had read his treatise, and spoke to him with such Christian feeling that his hopes were thus awakened anew at the moment when he was about to give way to despair.

Sarpi doubts the sincerity of Paul III with regard to reform. He believes that the Pope took up various projects of reform merely as an excuse to prove that a Council was unnecessary. But Sarpi’s prejudice always blinds him to any good action on the part of a Pope; and there is little doubt that Paul was in earnest in wishing to remove the graver abuses of the papal Court. But he was an old man when he ascended the papal throne, and his energy did not increase with years; moreover, he was not a zealot, possessed with one overmastering idea. The interests of his family, his own personal comfort, and the dignity of the Holy See, were to him things that were not to be lightly risked in the carrying out of any scheme of reform.

Nothing came immediately of his talk with Contarini in the autumn of 1538; but in the spring of 1540 a fresh, and, as it appeared, a more energetic beginning of reform was made in Rome. In April Giberti was summoned from his diocese to give the Sacred College the benefit of his experience; and commissions were appointed for carrying out reforms in the Apostolic Chamber, the Rota, the Chancery, and the Penitentiary. The hopes with which the pontificate had begun were fully revived. Giovanni Morone, the papal Nuncio in Germany, had again and again in his letters pressed upon the Pope the necessity of a Council and of energetic measures of reform, if the Church was to be saved in Germany. Morone’s instructions ordered him to be as conciliatory as possible; and it seemed that moderate men on both sides might arrange an understanding. The proposal of Faber, the Bishop of Vienna, to condemn as heretical a series of propositions selected from Lutheran writers, was disapproved of by the Pope. The failure so far of the attempts to assemble a General Council made Charles fall back on a series of national conferences, in which endeavors were made to find some common terms of agreement that might serve as a basis for the action of the Ecumenical Council when it should meet.

 

1538-41] Religious Colloquy at Ratisbon.

 

It was in pursuance of this policy that the famous Religious Colloquy took place at Ratisbon in April, 1541, after preliminary meetings at Hagenau (June, 1540) and at Worms (November, 1540). The detailed story of the negotiations belongs to the history of Germany; but the discussions which took place are of interest to us as showing the extent of the reconstruction of the Church system to which the most liberal of the Catholic reformers were prepared to consent. Agreement was arrived at on the fundamental articles of Original Sin, Free Will, and Justification. With regard to the last, a neutral formula was arrived at midway between the Lutheran doctrine and that formulated later at Trent. Justification was two-fold, and depended both on “inherent” and on “imputed” righteousness. It was attained by faith; but that faith must be living and active. The marriage of priests might be permitted but not encouraged, as also communion in both kinds. On the general doctrine of the Sacraments, and especially on the doctrine of the Eucharist, agreement was found more difficult; and when the papal prerogatives came on for discussion a clear divergence of opinion showed itself. It was clear that, after concessions on both sides, a considerable gulf still remained between them. Moreover, even if the peacemakers could come to terms, there were still Luther and the Pope to reckon with. Luther was suspicious, even unduly suspicious, of all papal advances; and he refused to believe in the sincerity of proposals in which his old adversary Eck had a share. The Pope, on the other hand, unhesitatingly rejected any ambiguous definition of the papal prerogative and of the doctrine of the Sacraments; and the agreement on Justification was viewed with suspicion in Rome, and only tolerated after much explanation. It was clear that no final settlement could be carried at the conference, which was accordingly brought to an end by the Emperor at the beginning of June, 1541.

Something at any rate had been gained, and the beginnings of a peaceful solution had been made. That complete success should have been attained at Ratisbon was probably impossible from the first. The exigencies of the political situation at the time made it the interest of the enemies of Charles to prevent a settlement of the religious difficulties, which it was feared would strengthen his hands. Moreover it was clear that the Catholic reformers were no longer as united as they had been; and their influence over the Pope was evidently lessening. Caraffa was drifting apart from his colleagues, and was rapidly becoming the leader of a party whose spirit was very different from that of the gracious idealists with whom he had been associated. The future of Catholicism lay in the balance; and the next few years would determine for centuries the attitude of the Roman Church towards the modern world, its politics, and its thought. It may be that when the Colloquy of Ratisbon took place it was already too late to save the unity of the Church in Germany. But to contemporaries even that did not seem quite hopeless. It was difficult for men living in the midst of the drama to realize how far the world had moved from its old orbit and how few of the old landmarks remained. To declare dogmatically, however, that the attempt at compromise made at Ratisbon was doomed to failure from the first is to assume that Protestantism and Catholicism had already taken up the definite positions which they reached at the end of the century. In the case of Catholicism, however, it was only after a struggle, the issue of which was long doubtful, that its attitude was definitely determined.

 

1504-28] The monastic Orders and reform.

 

The revival of religious life combined with a strict adherence to the old scholastic dogma - the feeling, as Carnesecchi put it, that men had the Catholic religion, and only desired that it should be better preached - revealed itself first in an awakening of the old religious Orders and the formation of others to meet new needs. The numerous exemptions from episcopal jurisdiction possessed by the old Orders had given rise to many grave abuses, and contributed to the slackening of their spiritual life. Spain, the home of religious orthodoxy united with religious zeal, led the way in reform. The achievement of national unity at the end of the fifteenth century brought with it a revival of the Spanish Church. The State used the Church for its own purposes, and the royal authority became all powerful. The Spanish hierarchy, though always fervently Catholic, was never ultramontane. Papal interference was carefully limited; and, with the aid of the revived Inquisition, Ximenes reformed the Spanish Church. The religious Orders were brought under control; and the morals of the Spanish clergy soon compared favorably with those of the rest of Christendom. A revival of Scholasticism in its Thomist form took place, of which the great Dominican Melchior Cano became later the chief exponent. Stress was laid upon the divine right of the episcopate. Bishops were not merely curates of the Pope. The nobler sides of medieval Christianity were again displayed to the world by the Spanish Church. The darker side, the horrors of the Inquisition, the intellectual intolerance and narrow outlook on life, the deficient sense of human freedom and the rights of conscience, were there also; but in a narrower sphere the seeds were being sown of one of the greatest religious revivals the world has seen. The line which events took in Spain could not fail in time to react upon the Catholic reform movement in Italy; and that reaction became more and more powerful. The inspiration of the movement in Italy was at first indigenous; but in time the gloomy fanaticism of Spain overshadowed it and crushed out its more humane elements.

But in its beginnings the movement was a spontaneous expression of the single desire to make the Catholic religion once more a reality. With many it took the form of a restoration of the primitive austerity of the older Orders. Gregorio Cortese recalled to its ideal the Italian Benedictine Congregation, reorganized in 1504, and impressed upon it its duty of supporting the Church by its learning. The Camaldolese, an offshoot of the Benedictines founded by St Romuald in the eleventh century, were reformed by Paolo Giustiniani, a member of a noble Venetian family. A number of these monks under his direction led an ascetic life at Massaccio, between Ancona and Camerino. After his death in 1528 Monte Corone, became the centre of the new Congregation; and the Order spread rapidly throughout Southern Europe. The old monastic Orders, however, only set an example which, powerful for good though it was, went but a little way in restoring Catholicism among the people. It was reserved for the Franciscans and for new religious societies to bring about a revival of popular religion. In 1526 Matteo de' Bassi was authorized by Clement VII to found a reformed branch of Franciscans, pledged to revive the simple rule of their founder. They came to be known as Capuchins from their garb. Simple and superstitious, they appealed to the populace; and they became the spiritual guides and counselors of the people. Religion was vulgarized in their hands, and their influence was not altogether for good. Some of them embraced Protestant ideas; and for a time the Order was viewed with some suspicion. But to the Capuchins more than perhaps to any other organization does the Roman Church owe the preservation of the mass of the Italian people in her fold.

The older Orders of monks and friars were, however, unequal by themselves to achieving the regeneration of Catholicism. The secular clergy in many parts had fallen into a lower state of degradation than the regulars; and it was one of the chief concerns of the Oratory of Divine Love to bring the parish priests to a sense of their high calling. Two of the members of the Oratory, Gaetano da Thiene and Giovanni Pietro Caraffa, took the first active steps to effect this reformation. Gaetano da Thiene, of an ancient family of Vicenza, was one of the pronotari participanti at the papal Court under Julius II. The life, however, became distasteful to him, and he accordingly resigned his post and took orders. He was one of the earliest members of the Oratory. After a short time he left Rome and worked in Vicenza and Venice, preaching to the people and doing good works. His experience there taught him that the weakness of the Church was largely due to the inefficiency and corruption of the parochial clergy. Accordingly, in 1523, he returned to Rome with the idea of founding a society to remedy this evil. There he again met Caraffa, who at once fell in with his views; and the two worked together to achieve this end. The Canons Regular of St Augustine may have suggested to Gaetano da Thiene the Order which they obtained the permission of Clement VII to found in 1524.

The Theatine Order. [1624-30

The new society was to consist of ordinary secular clergy bound together by the three monastic vows. They were to be, in short, secular priests with the vows of monks. The reformation of the clergy and a life of contemplation were to be the objects of the society.

The new society is important, not so much on account of its own work among the secular clergy as for the example it set. It always remained small in numbers, and its membership came to be confined to the nobility. Though the original conception was due to Gaetano da Thiene, yet it was from Caraffa that the society took its name. It became known as the Order of Theatines after his see of Chieti (Theate). It was no doubt largely due to his administrative ability and power of organization that the society was a success. It found many imitators. A similar society of regular clerks was founded at Somasca in the Milanese, 1528, by Girolamo Miani, son of a Venetian senator; and at Milan the Order of Barnabites was established about 1530 by three noble ecclesiastics, Zaccaria, Ferrari, and Morigia. The Barnabites were extremely successful in their labors; and their society carried into practice far and wide the scheme which Gaetano da Thiene had been the first to conceive for the improvement of the secular clergy

Quietly and unostentatiously, with little active assistance from the papal Court, the regeneration of Catholicism in Italy was thus begun, Caraffa was the guiding genius in the work, so far as a movement which was so wide can be connected with a single man; and it was pregnant with importance for the future that he was growing more and more estranged from the liberal Catholic reformers, with whom he had at one time worked in the Oratory of Divine Love. The path which Contarini and his friends were indicating, greater freedom in discipline, reduction of papal prerogative, and a considerable restatement of the traditional dogma, meant a break with the past which, when its full import dawned upon them, shocked Caraffa and those who clung to medieval Christianity. The Ratisbon proposals of 1541 opened their eyes, and the parting of the ways came. The group of Catholic reformers split in two and the division paralyzed for a time the work which had been begun with the Consilium de emendanda ecclesia. Until it was clear that a reform of morals would not entail any surrender of medieval theology and of the medieval system of Church government, Caraffa and his friends made impossible any general scheme of reform. The new Orders, the Theatines, the Barnabites, and the Capuchins, were restoring Catholicism rapidly on the old lines. Their work went steadily on, and meanwhile it was enough to wait. They were doing the work as Caraffa, and not as Contarini, wanted it to be done. The progress made, however, was not as rapid as might have been wished, until two agencies appeared upon the scene which became the most potent of the forces that regenerated Catholicism, and breathed into it a militant spirit, making all conciliation impossible. The Inquisition -the Holy Office for the Universal Church- and the Society of Jesus were the new organizations which achieved the work.

 

1541-2] Early history of the Inquisition

 

The Inquisition which was set up in Rome in 1542 by the Bull Licet initio was not new, but the adaptation of an old organization to the changed conditions of the times. The tendency to persecute appeared in the Church in very early days, but its lawfulness was always challenged; and it was not until the eleventh and twelfth centuries that any deliberate attempt was made to persecute systematically. A wave of heresy then passed over western Europe. Dualism and Manichaeism, always prevalent in the East, obtained a firm footing in the West; and the south of France became their stronghold. The Church became alarmed at the spread of ideas which not only were subversive of Christian faith but threatened the foundations of society and morals. The crusading spirit was diverted from the infidel to the heretic. The Albigensian crusade achieved its purpose. But something more was needed than an occasional holy war upon heresy. The work was taken in hand at first by the new episcopal Courts, which were beginning to administer the recently codified Canon Law in every diocese. But their action was spasmodic; and in the thirteenth century their efforts were reinforced by a papal Inquisition entrusted to the Dominican and Franciscan Orders. It was regulated by the papal Legates and its authority was enforced by provincial Councils. The Papacy however never had complete control of it; and side by side with it the old episcopal Inquisition went on. The episcopate viewed the papal Inquisition with jealousy, and in the fourteenth century succeeded to some extent in limiting its powers. In the fifteenth century its work was done and its activity ceased. It had stamped out heresy in Central Europe at an awful expenditure of human life and at the cost of a complete perversion of the spirit of Christianity.

At the moment however when it was about to disappear Spain asked for its introduction into that country. The problem of the Moors and the Jews prompted the request; and on November 1,1477, Sixtus IV authorized Ferdinand and Isabella to set up the Inquisition in their States. The Papacy consented with reluctance; and both Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII reserved a right of appeal to the Holy See. But they were both obliged to give way; and by a brief of August 23, 1497, Alexander VI finally abandoned the claim.

The Spanish Inquisition thus, though founded by Rome, did not remain under its direct control. The Spanish monarchy was responsible for it and used it as an instrument of State, though at times the terrific engine which it had created got beyond its control. The thoroughness with which Torquemada did his work achieved its object; and when Ximenes became Chief Inquisitor in 1507 the fierceness of persecution to some extent relaxed. It was this third or Spanish form of the Inquisition the success of which suggested to Caraffa the setting up of an Inquisition in Rome to supervise the whole Church. The idea was warmly supported by Ignatius Loyola; and accordingly Paul III, by a Bull of July 21, 1542, set up the Holy Office of the Universal Church. Six Cardinals were appointed commissioners, and were given powers as Inquisitors in matters of faith on both sides of the Alps. The Papacy thus provided itself with a centralized machinery, which enabled it to supervise the measures taken for checking the spread of the new opinions. Pius IV and Pius V extended the powers of the Inquisition, and its organization reached its most developed form under Sixtus V, who by the Bull Immensa remodelled it along with the other Roman congregations. The number of Cardinals composing it was increased to twelve; and there were in addition a Commissary, an Assessor, and a body of Consultors, who were chosen from among canonists and theologians. Besides these officials, there were numerous Qualificators who gave their opinion on questions submitted to them. There were also an advocate charged with the defence of accused persons, and other subordinates. The Roman Inquisition not only proceeded against any persons directly delated to it, but also heard appeals from the sentences of Courts of the Inquisition in other localities. Inquisitors were in addition sent by it to any place where they appeared to be needed.

Though the sphere of active work of the Roman Inquisition was confined to Italy, it achieved the purpose, not only of stamping out Protestantism in the peninsula, but of bringing back the old intolerant spirit into the government of the Church. Conciliation and confessions of failure could not go hand in hand with the Inquisition. The failure of Contarini at Ratisbon in 1541, followed by the establishment of the Inquisition in 1542, marks the active beginning of the Counter-Reformation in its narrower sense. A restoration of Catholicism by violence and irresistible force was beginning, which was driving the party of conciliation from the field and rendering all their endeavours useless. The proposals of the peacemakers were belied by the actions of the Inquisition.

1521-3] Ignatius Loyola.

The Society of Jesus was the second of the two great organizations which rose up to save the tottering Church. What the papal Inquisition did for Italy the Society of Jesus did for the Catholic Church throughout the world. Where force could not be used, persuasion and the subtler forms of influence were possible ; and in the Society of Jesus the most powerful missionary organization the world has ever seen was placed at the disposal of the Papacy. With rapidity little short of marvelous the Society spread not only throughout Europe but to China and the Indies, and became one of the chief powers in the counsels of the Church. Jesuit Fathers molded to a considerable extent the dogmatic decrees at Trent. The emergence of the Papacy from the ordeal of the Council, with its prerogative increased rather than diminished, was largely due to their efforts.

Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde, their founder, was born in 1491 at the castle of Loyola in Guipuzcoa. He served as a page at the Court of Ferdinand of Aragon, and his youth and early manhood were devoted to the profession of arms. A severe wound which he received at the siege of Pampeluna in 1521 lamed him for life. During a long and painful period of convalescence there fell into his hands several books dealing with the life of Christ and the heroic deeds of the Saints. So deep an impression was made upon his mind that he determined to devote himself entirely to the service of God and transfer his allegiance from an earthly to a heavenly army. Restored to health early in 1522, he set out as a knight errant of Christ and the Virgin. We hear of him first at Montserrat at a shrine of the Virgin famous throughout Spain. But his stay here was short, and we next find him at Manresa not far from Montserrat. At Manresa, according to the traditional story, Ignatius had his celebrated vision lasting for eight days, in which the plan of his society was revealed to him and the method which he worked out in his Spiritual Exercises. There is reason to believe, however, that the evolution of his great idea was a very gradual process, and that he owed more to others than his disciples have been usually willing to admit. At any rate we know for certain that he left Manresa early in 1523 as a pilgrim for the Holy Land. He had already conceived the idea of founding a great society for the service of the Church. But its exact nature was not yet at all clear in his mind. Ignatius had little knowledge of the great world and its needs. To a Spaniard war with the infidel was an obvious idea; and it is not surprising that the reconquest of Jerusalem should occur to him at the first as the most laudable object for his society. His stay at Jerusalem was not, however, very successful. A reckless enthusiast might cause trouble amidst a Mohammadan population; and Ignatius was refused permission to remain in Jerusalem and returned to Venice in 1524.

But the long journey had left its mark on his mind. He perceived his ignorance of the world and his lack of education, and he determined to do his best to remedy these defects. From 1524 to 1528 he studied at the Universities of Barcelona, Alcalá, and Salamanca; and in 1528 he proceeded to the University of Paris. It has been suggested that fear of the Inquisition prompted him to this step; for twice, once at Alcalá and once at Salamanca, he had fallen under its suspicion and narrowly escaped condemnation. At Paris Ignatius proceeded more cautiously; and the seven years of his stay there mark the crisis of his life when the visionary and enthusiast developed into an organizer and leader of men. Patiently and quietly, accepting no rebuff, he gathered round him one by one a little band whom he had infected with his enthusiasm. Pierre Lefèvre, a Savoyard, was his first disciple. Through him he obtained an influence over Francis Xavier, the future Apostle of the Indies, though he was no easy conquest. Diego (Jacobus) Laynez and Alfonso Salmeron, both Spaniards, were the next converts; and Nicholas Bobadilla and Simon Rodriguez soon followed. On August 15, 1534, the seven of them heard mass and received the communion in the church at Montmartre and made a vow of poverty and chastity. They also solemnly bound themselves to go to Jerusalem for the glory of God when they had finished their courses at the University; but, if it was found impossible to do so within a year, they agreed to throw themselves at the feet of the Holy Father and place themselves absolutely at his disposal.

Accordingly in 1537 they left Paris and went to Venice with the object of reaching the Holy Land. On the eve of their leaving Paris Lefèvre had gained three fresh recruits, Claude le Jay, Jean Codure, and Pasquier-Brouet; when Ignatius, who had meanwhile visited Spain, rejoined his companions, the little band had thus increased to ten. They, however, found it impossible to proceed to Jerusalem in consequence of the war with the Turks, and therefore, in accordance with their vow, determined to offer their services to the Pope. It was at Venice that Caraffa and Ignatius met, and it is probable that it was Caraffa’s influence which brought home to Ignatius that there was more important work for him and his disciples nearer home. The infidel was at the time less of a danger to the Church than the heretic; and, just as in the middle ages the transition from a crusade against the one to a crusade against the other was easy, so now it was not difficult to persuade Ignatius that his true mission was the extirpation of Protestantism and the expulsion of half-hearted brethren.

Caraffa would have wished Ignatius and his disciples to unite themselves to his favorite Order of Theatines, but to this Ignatius would in no way consent. He felt his own peculiar mission vividly, and what were to be the characteristic features of his Institute were rapidly taking shape in his mind. Though displeased by the refusal of Ignatius to conform to his wishes, Caraffa none the less gave him every encouragement. Caraffa’s later dislike of the Society when he was Pope was due to deeper causes than Ignatius’ refusal to throw in his lot with him. The diplomatic skill which had marked Ignatius ever since he left Spain in 1528 displayed itself in the caution with which he approached the Holy See. Accompanied by Lefèvre and Laynez, he determined to visit Rome, leaving his other companions to carry on in northern Italy the work of preaching and teaching and the gathering of fresh disciples, which they had begun in Venice. He felt it was necessary to survey the ground at Rome before attempting to settle there. On his journey Ignatius had a vision in a little church not far from Rome, which shows that the worldly wisdom which he had acquired had not dimmed his sense of a divine mission. God appeared to him in this wayside sanctuary, and he heard a voice saying, “Ego vobis Romae propitius ero”.

It was October, 1539, when the three enthusiasts reached Rome. Reform was in the air; and, though, as we have seen, little was done to carry out the suggestions of the Consilium de emendanda ecclesia, yet Paul III was ready to give every encouragement to any scheme for the improvement of the Church which did not call for any great self-denial on the part of the Papacy itself. Ignatius and his companions were accordingly favorably received and authorized to preach a reform of manners in Rome. The door thus being opened, Ignatius felt that the time had come to summon his other disciples to join him. At Easter, 1538, the little band were again united; and the work which they had begun in northern Italy was extended to Rome. Contarini, as well as Caraffa, welcomed new allies and became their protector. It only remained for Ignatius and his friends to draw up a definite Rule and to obtain confirmation from the Pope.

A supplication was accordingly drawn up indicating the objects and constitution of their proposed Society. Their petition was referred to a committee of three Cardinals, with Guidiccioni at its head, who at first reported unfavorably on the scheme. The needs of the day required the reform or suppression of existing religious Orders rather than the creation of new. Ignatius was however not discouraged. He worked on; and at length on September 27, 1540, the opposition was overcome, and by the Bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae the Society of Jesus was founded. The Bull contained a recitation of the petition of Ignatius and his companions; and it is the only certain authority in our possession from which we can learn the nature of his plan in its early form. The first thing which strikes the reader is that, while the objects of the Society are clearly indicated, its constitution is only vaguely outlined. Its members are to bear arms in the service of Christ and of the Roman Pontiff, His Vicar, to whom they are to take a special vow of obedience. They are to be the militia of the Holy See, devoting themselves to its service whenever it may direct. As preachers and directors of consciences they are to work for the propagation of the faith, and above all by means of the education of the young. They are to take the vows of poverty and chastity, and obedience to the General whom they set over themselves, in all things which concern the observance of their Rule.

 

The Constitution of the Society. [1540-1

 

The power granted to the General is unprecedented in its extent. The right of command belongs to him entirely. He is to decide for each his vocation and define his work. This is the only indication in the Bull of the elaborate hierarchy of degrees which appears in the later constitution of the Society. At the same time this apparently absolute power granted to the General is limited by the fact that in certain cases he is to take the advice of his council, which is to consist, in important matters, of the greater part of the Society, while in affairs of less moment those members who happen to be in his immediate neighborhood alone need be consulted. Here, and in the insistence on a period of probation before admission to the Society, there is an apparent approximation to the constitutions of the older religious Orders, in which, however much stress might be laid on the duty of obedience to authority, that authority was always bound to act in a canonical and constitutional way. If then the scheme laid before Paul III contained the germ from which the matured constitution of the Society was to grow, yet there were also present in it elements which disguised the extent to which the Society was a new departure. The language of Ignatius’ petition is not inconsistent in its main features with the future constitution of the Society, but it did not necessarily imply it. The unique nature of the new organization was not fully realized by the officials of the Roman Court. The limitation of the number of members to sixty, which was inserted in the Bull, may however show that they did not intend it to grow to unmanageable size until its tendencies revealed themselves more clearly.

On April 4,1541, six out of the original ten members of the Society, who were then in Home - Ignatius, Laynez, Salmeron, Le Jay, Pasquier-Brouet, and Codure - met to elect their General. The four who were absent with the exception of Bobadilla had sent their votes in writing. Ignatius was unanimously elected. He, however, refused the honor; but he was again elected on April 7. At last on April 17 he gave way and on April 22 he received the vows of his companions at the church of San Paolo fuori le mura. Thus began the generalate of Ignatius, which lasted until his death on July 31, 1556. The fame of the new Order soon spread throughout the Catholic world, and many fresh members were admitted to its ranks. A second Bull (Injunctum nobis) was obtained from Paul III, dated March 14, 1543, which repealed the clause of the former Bull limiting the number of members to sixty. Meanwhile Ignatius continued to work at the Constitutions; and the experience which he gained during the first years of the Society’s existence no doubt unconsciously modified his scheme for its government. The great increase in the number of members - an increase which he himself did not altogether welcome - with the consequent mixture of heterogeneous elements in the Society, made it advisable to strengthen the authority of the General and to weaken still further those checks on his power which appear in the petition of 1540. In no other way could the unity of action of the Society be preserved. Judging from the part played after the death of Ignatius by Laynez, it is extremely probable that this development was largely due to his influence.

However this may be, the change undoubtedly took place; and by a Bull of Paul III of October 18, 1549 (Licet debitum pastoralis officii), and by a Bull of Julius III of July 21, 1550 (Exposat pastoralis officii), the power of the General’s Council was still further limited and other changes were made in the original plan. It is clear from the language of both these Bulls that, though further drafts of the Constitutions had been laid before the Papal authorities, Ignatius had not yet reduced them to their final form. From the Bull of Julius III it is evident that the system of a series of degrees in the Society was already shaping itself, but that the government of the Society had not yet become the system of absolutism it afterwards became.

Julius III (1550-5) was kindly disposed towards Ignatius; and during his pontificate the Collegium Romanum and the Collegium Germanicum were set up in Rome, to both of which he granted an annual subsidy. His successor Marcellus II, the Cardinal of Santa Croce, had been one of the Legates at Trent. It was due to his influence that Laynez and Salmeron were present at the Council as the theologians of the Pope. With Marcellus the Counter-Reformation ascended the papal throne; and the Jesuits appeared about to become the predominant influence in the Roman Court. But he died three weeks after his election, and was succeeded by Caraffa, who took the title of Paul IV. The new Pope immediately displayed hostility to the Order. A domiciliary visit was paid to the Gesù and a search made for arms. Paul’s hostility to Spain made him suspect a body which had such close relations with that country. He, however, employed Laynez in connection with his schemes for reform; and it was only after the death of Ignatius that he interfered in the internal affairs of the Society.

Laynez was elected Vicar-General on August 3, 1556, to administer the affairs of the Society until the Congregation could assemble to elect a new General, and to approve the Constitutions which Ignatius had left. For various reasons the meeting of the General Congregation seems to have been delayed; and Laynez spent the time in preparing a final edition of the Institute for submission for its approval. Dissensions meanwhile broke out; Laynez was accused of purposely deferring the meeting of the General Congregation in his own interests. Bobadilla, Rodriguez, and Pasquier-Brouet were the leaders of the opposition. They appealed to the Pope against the arbitrary conduct of the Vicar-General, and requested that the government of the Society during the interregnum might rest with the Council of the Society. The Pope then called upon Laynez to bring before him the Constitutions and rules of the Society. Cardinal Carpi was appointed to enquire into the matter. His report recommended the confirmation of Laynez as Vicar-General, but advised that in future he should be obliged to consult the Council. Laynez, however, managed to obtain from the Pope a second enquiry, which was conducted by Cardinal Ghislieri the future Pius V. It is not clear what the exact result of this second enquiry was, but Laynez skillfully managed to divide the opposition and paralyze its efforts. At length on June 19, 1558, the General Congregation met; and July 2 was appointed for the election of the new General. Twenty Fathers were present. Cardinal Pacheco superintended the election by order of the Pope, and Laynez was elected by thirteen votes out of twenty. The assembly then proceeded to approve the Constitutions in the form they were presented to it by Laynez.

Laynez had apparently won a great triumph. He had quelled the opposition to his authority. He had persuaded the assembly to accept the Latin version by Polanco of Ignatius’ Institute, by which the absolute power of the General was secured. But he had reckoned without the Pope. When Paul IV heard that the General Congregation had confirmed the Constitutions of the Society without consulting him and were about to adjourn, he sent Cardinal Pachecho to demand the insertion of two alterations in the Rule. In the first place, the Jesuits were to be bound to recite the offices of the Church in choir as other religious Orders were bound to do; and in the second place, the office of General was to be for three years only and not for life. Paul IV evidently feared the power which the Constitutions of the Society would give to an able man to wield as he thought fit. The Society might become an imperium in imperio. The “black Pope” might become a dangerous power behind the throne. If we read the story in the light of the later history of the Society, this is not an improbable interpretation of the action of Paul IV.

Laynez saw there was nothing to do but submit. The General Congregation bowed to the wishes of the Holy Father and dispersed. The two alterations of the Rule were not incorporated in it, but are printed as an appendix to the edition published at Rome in December, 1558. Laynez could do nothing but wait for better times. They were not long in coming. On August 18, 1559, Paul IV died and was succeeded by Pius IV, who did not share his predecessor's dislike of the Order. Laynez seized a favorable opportunity of bringing before the Society the question whether a mere informal order of a Pope was binding on them; but they considered it better to bring the matter directly before Pius IV, who revoked the order of his predecessor so far as that was necessary. The Papacy thus gave way in its first struggle with the Society which was to be so often more a master than a servant.

 

The Spiritual Exercises.

 

It has been necessary to describe at considerable length the early history of the government of the Society, in order to show how gradually it revealed its true nature to the world, and that absolutism did not triumph without considerable opposition in the Society itself. The new institution, however, from its very beginning, was the expression of the principle of blind obedience to authority. Other Orders had inculcated it as a virtue; but none had provided so searching a discipline by which complete ascendancy could be attained over its disciples. Moreover its purpose was not merely to produce Christian humility and the spirit of self-denial in the individual. It was to make each member a ready instrument for the purposes of the Society in its warfare with the world. A practical object was always the end in view : the triumph of the Church over hostile forces, the conquest of the hosts of Satan whatever form they might assume. A perpetual warfare was to be waged, and success could only be obtained by faithful obedience to orders. The theory of this discipline is developed in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, a work of genius in devotional literature. Though it owes its form to a considerable extent to the Exercitatorio de la vida espiritual of Dom Garcia de Cisneros, the Benedictine Abbot of Montserrat, published in 1500, which Ignatius no doubt found in use at the convent at Montserrat during his stay there, and to the writings of mystics such as Gerard Zerbold of Zutphen and Mauburnus (Johannes Momboir), members of the Brotherhood of the Common Life, which he probably met with during his stay in Paris, yet it is no mere compilation. The spirit which breathes through its pages differs from that which distinguishes most mystical writings, in that the absorption of the soul in God is not to be the end of action but the source of inspiration for further work. The moral paralysis of pantheism, the danger of all mystics, is avoided. According to the plan of the work the meditations are divided into four main divisions or weeks. In the first period the course of the meditations is conducted so as to produce in the neophyte a kind of hypnotism, a passive state in which he will be ready to receive the impressions that it is desired to make upon him. In the second week the glories of the Heavenly King and the privileges of His service are set before the disciple. The armies of Christ and Satan are contrasted, and the demands that God makes upon men are set forth. The third and fourth weeks are devoted to meditation upon the sacred story, the life and passion of Christ, and the enormity of human sin; and finally the eternal joys of heaven are set before the disciple. To gain them he must give up liberty and the freedom of thinking for himself. Absolute obedience to the bride of Christ, the Church, its doctrines and its life, is the only way of salvation.

Such was the ideal which Ignatius set before the world in the Spiritual Exercises; and its spirit was faithfully reproduced in his Society. The Spiritual Exercises became the Bible of the Order and molded its religious life. The novice on admission was trained in its method. He lost his personality to find it again only in the Society. He himself was but raw material for the Society to mould as it would. All his faculties were to be developed, but the initiative was never left to him. The life of the Society was a life of mutual supervision and subordination. That there were diversities of gifts was fully recognized, but no man might be the judge of his own capabilities. The Society, through its General and those appointed by him, apportioned to each his work. The novices were distinguished according as they were selected for the priesthood or for secular duties; while those whose vocation was not yet clear formed a separate class called “indifferent”. After a novitiate of two years, promotion was given to the grade of “scholastics”. Those who belonged to this class spent some five years in the study of arts, and then acted themselves as teachers of junior classes for a similar period. The study of theology followed for four or five years ; and then admission might be given to the rank of spiritual coadjutors. Others however were confined to the rank of temporal coadjutors. They were employed in the service of the Society and ministered to its needs, and may be compared to the lay-brethren of other Orders. The great majority of members of the Society never passed beyond the rank of spiritual coadjutor. They took part in all the missionary work of the Society, in preaching and teaching. The heads of its Colleges and Residences were taken from this class; but they had no share in the government of the Society, which was confined to the “Professed of the Four Vows”, who were the Society in the strictest sense of the word. Besides the three ordinary vows, they took one of special allegiance to the Pope, undertaking to go whithersoever he might order. The higher offices of the Society were confined to them. Their number was always small in comparison with the total membership of the Society; and at the death of Ignatius they only numbered thirty-five. There was also a small class called the “Professed of the Three Vows”, which only differed from that of the spiritual coadjutors in that the vows were taken in a more solemn way. It was reserved for those who were admitted into the Society for exceptional purposes.

At the head of this elaborate hierarchy stood the General. His power was absolute so far as the ordinary affairs of the Society were concerned; but he could not alter its constitution except with the consent of the General Congregation. An intricate system of checks and counter-checks guarded against any part of the huge machine getting beyond his control, a system to which to some extent he also was subject. Six assistants were appointed to keep a watch upon him, and the possibility of his deposition was provided for. Espionage and delation permeated the whole Society. Absolute as his authority was, the General felt that in the Society there was a great impersonal force behind him, which prevented him from departing from the spirit of the founder.

Admirably fitted as such an organization was, with its combination of adaptability and stability, to carry on the work of the Society with the least possible friction, yet it was inevitable that the influx of able men into the Society should lead to a variety of ideas. The intended unity of thought as well as action could only be partially enforced, and the abler minds could not be made to think alike. A considerable Spanish opposition arose in the Society, which criticized what it thought to be certain evil tendencies in the body. Mariana wrote a work on the defects of the Order; and the theory of morals, which Pascal criticized, did not become prevalent in the Society without a struggle. But in its first and golden age such division as there was did not weaken to any appreciable extent its unity of action, and it offered an unbroken front to the enemies of the Church.

The spread of the Society’s organization and the ubiquity of its members in the first years of its existence were remarkable. The Latin countries, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, were soon covered with a network of its institutions; and Jesuit Fathers became an influence in the counsels of Princes. North of the Alps progress was less rapid. In Southern Germany and Austria a foothold was obtained; but it was not until after the final dissolution of the Council of Trent that much progress was made there. In France considerable opposition had to be overcome before the Society could obtain an entry at all; and its afterwards famous College of Clermont long lived a precarious existence. Candid critics in the Church were not wanting. Melchior Cano called the Jesuits the precursors of Antichrist; and St Carlo Borromeo in his later years viewed with suspicion the power and tendencies of the Society. Great as their importance became, almost immediately after their foundation, in the counsels of the Church, their missionary influence, at any rate outside the Latin countries, is commonly antedated. Their educational system, which was a great advance on anything which had gone before, was only gradually developed; and by means of it their greatest services to the Church were rendered. During the years in which the Council of Trent sat, and in those immediately preceding, it was the Inquisition which was the most potent weapon in the hands of the Papacy. The Jesuits rendered yeoman service at the Council itself, and their day came when it was brought to a successful conclusion.

Such were the forces at work in the Church when at length circumstances allowed the long deferred Council to meet. The Christian Renaissance, with its ideal of the unity of faith and reason and its attempt to find a place within the Church for all that was best in the achievements of the human mind, its philosophy, its science, and its art, was rapidly being eclipsed by a new spirit, which claimed for Church authority complete control, and gave little scope to human freedom and self-realization. The sacrifice of the intellect rather than its consecration was demanded. Mankind was to remain in bondage to the dead hand of the past. The progress that was being rapidly made in human knowledge was to be ignored. Catholicism was never to go beyond its medieval exponents. Conciliation and compromise with the new views was consequently treason, and “No surrender” was the cry.

Paul III stood aloof and looked on as the new power grew in strength and made itself felt in the Church. The last of the Renaissance Popes, he was liberal in his sympathies, but he never gave his whole confidence to any party. The reformed and tolerant Catholicism, which seemed about to prevail in the early years of his reign, found itself only partially supported, if not abandoned, and others were allowed to frustrate its efforts. Contarini, on his return to Italy after the Colloquy of Ratisbon, was rewarded with the government of Bologna, but his influence was gone. His death occurred soon after, on August 24, 1542, and he was spared the further disillusionment which the Council would have inevitably brought to him. He was one of the noblest figures in an age of great men, and the blessing of the peacemaker was his. Giberti survived him little more than a year, dying on December 30,1543. The loss of Contarini and Giberti was an irreparable blow to the party of conciliation. Sadoleto, Pole, and Morone survived; but none of them had the force of character to fight a losing cause; and Pole and Morone ended their days in trying to vindicate their orthodoxy, the one by playing the part of a persecutor in England, the other by winding up the Council in the papal interest. For the time, however, Viterbo, of which Pole was governor, became the centre of the remnants of that little band which had first found a common bond in the Oratory of Divine Love. Everything now depended on the coming Council, and there was nothing but to await events.

Though the Colloquy of Ratisbon had failed to achieve any permanent result, yet the Emperor did not altogether despair of conciliation. The varying circumstances of the political situation from time to time affected his attitude towards the Lutherans; but he appears to have had a genuine desire all along for a thorough reformation of abuses in the Church by a General Council, from which the Roman Court itself was not to be exempt. Paul III, on the other hand, had little desire for a Council, at which it was clear, after the events at Ratisbon, that the papal prerogative was likely to be severely handled. It was impossible for him, however, to resist the demands of the Emperor altogether; and, after an interview between them at Lucca, Paul III at length again agreed to summon a Council. Accordingly on May 22, 1542, a Bull was published summoning a General Council to meet at Trent on November 1, 1542. Trent was selected as the place of assembly, with the hope of satisfying the German demand that the Council should meet on German territory. Though the population of Trent was mainly Italian, it was within the Empire and under the protection of Charles1 brother Ferdinand. At the same time it was easy of access to the Italian Bishops, and was not so far distant as to be beyond the Pope's control. It was an ecclesiastical principality under its Bishop, Christofero Madruzzo, Cardinal of Trent.

 

1542-4] The Council of Trent.

 

In August, 1542, Parisio, Morone, and Pole, the Legates appointed to open the Council, started for Trent; and the Council was duly opened on November 1. There were, however, only a few Italian prelates present; and, as no more arrived, by a Bull of July 6, 1543, the Pope again adjourned the Council. The war between Charles and Francis I again made the Council impossible ; and at the Diet of Speier in 1544 it was agreed that all proceedings against the Lutherans should be stayed until a free and general Council could be held in Germany. Charles also promised to hold a Diet in which the religious questions should again be discussed and if possible arranged. The Lutherans were privately assured that an endeavor should be made to frame a scheme of comprehension, and that the Pope should not be allowed to stand in the way.

The proceedings at Speier seriously alarmed the Pope; and on August 5, 1544, he addressed a strong letter of remonstrance to the Emperor. The sin of Eli would be his, he wrote, if he did not lift up his voice against the unwarranted interference in the affairs of religion by the Emperor and the Diet. Toleration was pernicious, and the attempt to regulate the affairs of the Church in a national assembly largely composed of laymen unheard of. He was himself desirous of a reformation, and had declared this often by promising a Council; and it was the Emperor himself who, through the war, was hindering the one means which could restore the peace of Christendom. The Pope now saw that it was necessary for him to take active steps if the control of the situation was not to pass out of his hands. Unless something was done, Charles might be driven to follow the example of Henry VIII, and the German Church might fall away from the Holy See. The Council must be held in order to satisfy Charles, but it must be conducted with quite other objects than those contemplated by him. The formulation of doctrine should be its chief business. The old traditional doctrine of the Church must be laid down afresh so as to make all conciliation of the Protestants impossible. All discussion of the papal prerogatives must be avoided; and the reform of practical abuses must take quite a secondary place. Having enunciated the Church’s doctrine, the Council might leave to the Holy Father the carrying out of such reforms as were necessary. The Council in fact was to be used as an agent of the Counter-Reformation and as another means to the defeat of Protestantism.

All the resources of a skilful and patient diplomacy were now devoted to this end. A Bull was published on September 17, 1544, summoning the Council to meet on March 14, 1545; and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese was sent to Germany to come, if possible, to an understanding with the Emperor. On September 18, 1544, the Treaty of Crépy was signed, and it was no longer so essential to Charles to keep on good terms with the Lutherans. The Emperor and the Papacy soon began to draw nearer to one another. Charles refused to confirm the rights of the Lutherans without regard to the proceedings of the Council, but at the same time he proceeded with the greatest caution. He did not feel strong enough as yet to provoke a general contest with German Protestantism. The Turkish danger was again imminent, and the Imperial treasury was empty. It thus came about that, when at length the Papacy was willing to proceed actively with the Council, the Emperor on the other hand wished to defer it for a time, as it seemed likely to drive the Lutherans to desperation. Charles accordingly at the Diet of Worms in 1545 allowed the religious question to be again discussed, and proposed another colloquy of the theologians. Until the Diet was concluded he requested the Pope to defer the opening of the Council. Paul III vigorously protested against what was nothing short of an insult to the Council; and the negotiations proceeded. Charles even went so far as to propose the transference of the Council to a really German town, from Trent which was only German in name, and the Pope replied by threatening to translate it to Rome or Bologna. Charles then saw that further concession was necessary, as he could not afford to risk the hostility of the whole of Germany, which this transfer would inevitably provoke. In October, 1545, accordingly, after the conclusion of the Diet of Worms, he requested the Pope to open the Council as quickly as possible at Trent ; and informed him that the religious negotiations at the Diet were not seriously intended, and that their only purpose was to deceive the Protestants until his military preparations were ready and he should be able to crush them.

The negotiations that led up to the opening of the Council thus ended in a triumph for the Papacy; and the Protestants had little to expect from a Council which began under such auspices. Their only hope lay in a conflict of interests between the Emperor and the Pope, and these Powers now appeared in close alliance. Their agreement was not however so close as it appeared, and the Papacy felt that only the first step had been gained. Charles, even when in alliance with the Pope, never intended the Council to content itself with a solemn publication of Catholic dogmas to the world. A reform of the Church in head and members was necessary, even if the wishes of the Protestants were to be ignored. Charles never had any intention of merely playing the papal game. The exigencies of the political situation would determine the extent of the concessions he would make to the Papacy; and Paul III felt that it was no easy task which still lay before him.

Paul III deemed it unwise to preside in person at the Council. An old man of nearly eighty, the prospect of the journey and a lengthy sojourn at Trent was alone sufficient to deter him from the idea; besides which it was better for the Papacy to avoid being directly involved in the struggle of parties which was inevitable at the Council. He accordingly appointed three Legates to preside over its meetings and to conduct the business. They were to keep in close communication with Rome, and no important matter was to be decided until he had been consulted. His choice fell upon Giovanni Maria del Monte, Marcello Cervini, Cardinal of Santa Croce, and Reginald Pole. Del Monte and Cervini were entirely devoted to the papal interest. The former was hasty and impatient, a worldly Cardinal of the unreformed papal Court. Cervini represented the party of Caraffa and the new Catholicism, intolerant, narrow, and uncompromising, but keenly anxious for the removal of moral abuses in the Church. Cervini, moreover, was a diplomatist of the first order; and it was due to him that the numerous rocks and shoals on which the Papacy stood in danger of being wrecked during the Council were skillfully avoided. He prevented many a scene, which the haughtiness of del Monte had provoked, from becoming serious; and none knew better how to pour oil on troubled waters. Pole was little more than a cipher from the beginning. His academic mind was helpless amidst the play of living forces in which he found himself; and he had to acquiesce in the policy of his colleagues who had the Papacy behind them. His nomination as Legate was only intended to give the appearance of conciliation to the papal policy, and he felt himself helpless from the first. He spoke several times in favor of moderation, but soon lost heart. His ill health provided him with a convenient pretext to withdraw later from a scene in which he was doomed to be a failure. Great as was his intellectual ability, he had none of the qualities of a leader ; and he was unequal to playing the part that Contarini might have played in the Council.

On March 13, 1545, the Legates made their solemn entry into Trent. They had the vaguest instructions, and could do nothing but wait, while the negotiations mentioned above went on between Charles and the Pope. At length, when a favorable juncture seemed to have arrived, the Pope ordered them to open the Council on December 13, 1545, and bade a number of Italian Bishops make their way to Trent. The attendance at the opening ceremony was but meagre. Besides the Legates and Cardinal Madruzzo, the Bishop of Trent, only four Archbishops, twenty Bishops, and five Generals of Orders, with a small number of theologians, were present. Of the Bishops, five were Spanish and two French ; and Sweden, England, and Ireland were represented by one Bishop each. Cardinal Madruzzo was the only prelate who in any sense could be said to represent the Empire; and the rest were Italians.

The first three sessions were spent in making the necessary arrangements for the business of the Council. A division of opinion at once arose as to the exact title to be used. The proposal of the Legates “Sacrosancta Tridentina synodus in Spiritu sancto legitime congregata in ea praesidentibus tribus apostolicae sedis legatis” was not satisfactory to a portion of the Council; and it was proposed to add the words “universalem ecclesiam representans”. The intention of the amendment was to express the superiority of the Council even to the Pope, and to revive the memories of Constance and Basel. The Legates expressed their dislike of it to the Pope on these grounds, though in public they resisted it merely as being unnecessary; and they succeeded in obtaining the rejection of the proposal. A question of more practical importance followed as to the right of voting. At Constance voting had been by nations; and Abbots and theologians, as well as Bishops and Generals of Orders, were allowed to vote. The Bishops were, however, very jealous of their privileges; and it was decided to confine the power of voting to Bishops and heads of religious Orders. The claim of absent Bishops to vote by proxy was rejected by the Legates by order of the Pope. Only Bishops “in partibus” might represent their diocesans. This was a great victory for the curial party. In the absence of voting by nations, it ensured a preponderant influence to the Italian Bishops, who were mostly blind adherents to the Papacy. Many of them were very poor and were in fact dependent upon the Legates for their daily bread. The papal pensions and the hope of being rewarded with lucrative offices kept them loyal to the Curia, the interests of which were largely their own.

It was from the Spanish Bishops on the other hand that the Legates had most to fear. Charles had issued peremptory orders for them to attend the Council; and they became the backbone of the opposition to the pretensions of the Curia. The work of Ximenes had borne good fruit; and the Spanish Bishops were the most learned and the ablest among the members of the Council. Their orthodoxy was unimpeachable, they had no sympathy with the wishes of the moderate party for conciliation in doctrine, but equally with them they were determined to maintain the supremacy of the Council to the Pope, and to remove the abuses of the papal Court. So alarmed were the Legates by their arrival and by the prospects of an increase in their number, that they wrote to the Pope urgently requesting that ten or twelve capable Italian Bishops of proved fidelity might be sent to the Council to resist them.

The divergence between the interests of the Curia with its Italian supporters and the foreign Fathers was plainly revealed when the order of business came to be determined. In his instructions to the Legates Paul III clearly laid down that reform was only a secondary and less important cause of the convocation of the Council. Its principal work was to be the definition of dogma. It was for this latter purpose that Paul III had consented to summon the Council. By proclaiming anew the old dogmas reconciliation with the Protestants would be rendered impossible; and before any reforms hostile to the papal interests could be undertaken it would probably be possible to bring the Council to an end. The Emperor and the Spanish Bishops, together with the few moderate and independent men among the Italians, had however no intention of meekly submitting to the indefinite postponement of the consideration of reform. When the Church had been purified, then the time would come for the discussion of questions of doctrine. Led by Cardinal Madruzzo, who represented the imperial views, they insisted on reform being taken in hand at once. The Legates were placed in a very difficult position and were afraid of risking an open defeat. Feeling ran so high in the Council, that an open revolt was likely if they insisted on beginning with the discussion of doctrine alone. They accordingly, at the suggestion of Thomas Campeggio, the Bishop of Feltre, proposed a compromise, that doctrine and reform should be treated at the same time by the separate commissions, and should come before the Council in alternation; and for this proposal, in spite of the opposition of Cardinal Madruzzo, they obtained a majority on January 22, 1546. The compromise was a partial defeat to the curial party and revealed the strength of the opposition. The Pope was furious and called upon the Legates to get the decision rescinded. The Legates, however, pointed out that this was impossible; and the Pope accordingly acquiesced with a bad grace. He, however, prohibited the discussion of any plan for the reform of the Roman Court until it had been first referred to him. As a consolation the Legates reminded the Pope that they could always lengthen the discussion on the dogmas, so as to receive his opinion on the questions of reform that were under consideration at the same time.

The details of the procedure of the Council were arranged with less difficulty. The whole Synod was divided into three classes, and the work of preparation was distributed between them. A preliminary discussion of each question, after it had been prepared by the theologians and canonists, was to take place in the special congregation to which it was allotted. The matter was then to be further discussed in a General Congregation of the whole Synod; and if approved it was to be promulgated in a solemn session of the Council. The rules of procedure being thus settled, the dogmatic discussions were opened at the Fourth Session, which began on April 8, 1546.

 

The rule of Faith; reform; and Justification. [1546

 

The rule of Faith was first considered. The Nicene Creed including the Filioque had been reaffirmed in the Third Session with the significant description “symbolum fidei quo sancta Romana ecclesia utitur”. The sources of knowledge of religious truth were now examined; and Scripture and tradition were set side by side as having equal authority. Tradition was defined as “traditio Christi” and “traditio apostolorum (Spiritu Sancto dictante)”. The Church alone had the right to expound Scripture; but silence was maintained as to the relations of the Pope and the Church in the matter. The traditional Canon of Scripture was accepted; and the Vulgate was declared the authoritative text, which no one was to presume to reject.

It was not to be expected that these definitions would be accepted without opposition. Nacchianti, Bishop of Chioggia, maintained that Scripture was the sole rule of faith; but he found only six supporters. Others proposed to distinguish between apostolic traditions and tradition in general, but they also met with defeat. The declaration that the text of the Vulgate was infallible was out of harmony with the knowledge of the time, and met with criticism in the papal household itself. The enthusiasm of the theologians at Trent, mostly Dominicans, for medieval theology was almost too zealous to please the Roman Court. The Pope could not help feeling a certain displeasure at the Council coming to a decision on such fundamental points without consulting the Holy See. He directed the Legates to have the decrees of the Fourth Session examined anew; but, on their protesting, he gave way and abandoned the idea of dictating directly to the Council, on condition that its decrees should always be submitted for his approbation before being published.

In accordance with the order of business agreed upon, reform was next taken in hand; and a discussion began upon a difficult point of discipline, the question as to the rules for preaching and catechizing. This raised the contentious question of the relation of the Bishops to the regular clergy. Stormy scenes took place, and reverend prelates gave one another the lie. The Bishops of Fiesole and Chioggia were the most offensive to the Legates, on account of their plain speaking, and their recall from the Council was requested of the Pope. A considerable number of Bishops demanded that there should be no exemptions from episcopal control. The discussion soon passed to wider issues. It was claimed that the residence of Bishops in their dioceses was “jure divino” and that the Pope therefore possessed no power of dispensing with it. The Legates, however, succeeded in keeping to the question immediately before them; and it was finally decided that, while the regulars were to be allowed to preach in the churches of their own Order without episcopal permission, they were to be prohibited from doing so in other churches without the license of the Ordinary.

Original Sin was the next subject of discussion; and this led on to the thorny paths of Free Will and Justification. The Emperor endeavored to defer the discussion on these speculative points; but the Pope was determined to obtain definitions which would make the breach with the Protestants irreparable. The Legates again (June 2, 1546) requested that more Italian Bishops might be sent to the Council to cope with the opposition; and the consideration of the nature of Justification was entered upon. A Neapolitan, Thomas de San Felicio, Bishop of La Cava, and a few theologians, maintained the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, but their views could obtain no hearing; and a scene ensued in which San Felicio and a Greek Bishop fell upon one another, and the latter’s beard was torn out in handfuls. The discussion then confined itself to the mediating view which Contarini had advocated in his Tractatus de Justificatione. Pighius, Pflug, and Gropper had maintained a similar position in Germany; and it had the adherence of some of the ablest Catholic intellects, both north and south of the Alps. Seripando, the General of the Augustinians, was the chief champion in the Council of this view. Seripando in many respects resembled Sadoleto. The best elements of humanism and Christianity were united in him; and the position he took up on this doctrine was in harmony with the traditions of the Augustinian Order. He distinguished between an “inherent” and an “imputed” righteousness; and the “inherent” only justified because of the “imputed” ; the one was needed to complete the other. In the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, however, lay our final hope. The inherent righteousness, the righteousness of works, was by itself of no avail.

It was in this discussion that Laynez and Salmeron, the two Jesuits who had been brought to the Council by Cervini as the Pope’s theologians, first played a prominent part in the debates of the assembly. Ignatius was of opinion that the Council was not of very high importance; but he wished his Society to receive favorable notice there. Laynez and Salmeron had received very careful instructions as to their behavior in the Council. They were to use every opportunity for preaching and carrying on pastoral work. Dogmatics, however, were to be avoided in the pulpit, and no excessive asceticism that might be repellent was to be practised. The Spiritual Exercises were to be introduced whenever an occasion offered itself. In the meetings of the Council they were to speak with moderation and avoid giving offence; but they were to oppose anything approaching to the new views. Every night they were to meet and discuss their joint plans of action with Le Jay.

The politic instructions of Ignatius, which Laynez and Salmeron faithfully carried out, were eminently successful. The Jesuits were exempted from the general prohibition of preaching during the Council, and soon obtained considerable influence with the Spanish Bishops. They came to be known as the great advocates of purity of dogma and scholasticism in the Council; and their importance rapidly increased. When Ignatius wished to recall Laynez, Cervini wrote to say that he was indispensable. With regard to the conflicting claims of the Papacy and the Bishops, Ignatius wished the Jesuits to play the rôle of mediator; but this position was soon abandoned, and they became the scientific supporters of the Roman claims. Their skill in patristic and scholastic quotation was remarkable, and they read to the Council what were whole treatises rather than speeches.

Laynez especially devoted himself to the great question of Justification. While admitting the distinction between “inherent” and “imputed” righteousness, he maintained that the “imputed” righteousness became involved in the “inherent”. The merits of Christ were imparted to man through faith; and we must rely on the merits of Christ not because they complete but because they produce our own. The efficacy of works was thus implied. Seripando had maintained that we must rely on the “imputed” righteousness: the righteousness of Christ was alone true and sufficient, and it was our faith in that which ultimately justified us. Such a view made reconciliation with the Protestants not impossible, while that of Laynez brought all hopes of agreement to an end.

In his speech against Seripando, Laynez pointed out with great skill the weakness of mediating theology; and the superficial clearness of his logic appealed to the assembled Fathers. The moderate party, though unable to persuade the Council of their views, were yet able to obtain a decree on the subject sufficiently ambiguous to allow the possibility of the development of Jansenism in the future. The formula, however, made reconciliation with the Protestants impossible; and the Papacy and the Jesuits thus obtained their object. Pole exhorted the Council not to reject any opinion simply because it was held by Luther, but his voice had little weight. Seripando was left to lead the moderates; and Pole left the Council at the end of June, his health breaking down, and retired to Padua. In August the Pope requested him to return to Trent, but he excused himself ; and in October he was definitely relieved of his functions. Meanwhile the decrees of the Fifth Session were solemnly published on June 17, 1546; and Paul III approved and ratified by a brief the decrees with regard to preaching. Only the Bishop of Fiesole protested against this indirect claim of the Pope that the decrees of the Council required his assent and confirmation.

Though the Legates had successfully steered their way through the discussions on the most fundamental points of doctrine, they still feared the determination of the Emperor and the Spanish Bishops to carry out a thorough reform. To prevent this they endeavored to procure the translation of the Council to an Italian town where it would be more completely under their control. Madruzzo, who was the energetic advocate of the Emperor’s ideas on the subject of reform, had several acrimonius conflicts with the irritable del Monte; and the situation again became strained. Cardinal Pacheco went so far as to accuse the Legates of falsifying the votes. The charge was groundless, but it is an indication how high feeling ran. The Emperor peremptorily refused to consent to the translation of the Council; and the Legates had to content themselves with endeavoring to obtain the solemn publication of the decrees on Justification. A further rampart against the Protestants in the form of doctrinal decrees upon the Sacraments was also prepared; and, while the Emperor endeavored to prevent further definition of doctrine, the Legates did all they could to hasten it on. Fearing to press the Emperor too far, Cervini, diplomatic as ever, proposed a compromise The publication of the decrees on Justification was to be delayed, if the Emperor would consent to the suspension of the Council for six months and to all disciplinary reform being left to the Pope. The Emperor however rejected the proposal at once; and the Legates then, on December 29, 1546, persuaded the Council to agree to the publication of the decrees on Justification at the Sixth Session on January 13, 1547. This was accordingly done; and the decrees were confirmed by the Pope, who, as a concession to the Council in return for the adjournment of the question of the residence of Bishops, proceeded to publish a Bull requiring Cardinals holding bishoprics in plurality to resign them within a certain date. So far as it was carried out, the Bull was little more than a dead letter, as they reserved to themselves many pensions and charges upon the revenues of the sees which they resigned.

Rapid progress was made meanwhile with the decrees on the Sacraments, while that on the residence of Bishops was again delayed. The view that residence was “jure divino” and therefore not dispensable by the Pope, was again insisted on by the Spanish Bishops; and Carranza wrote a special treatise on the subject. But the servile Italian majority was continually increasing; and, when the independent Bishop of Fiesole maintained that the Episcopate possessed all spiritual powers in itself and that Bishops were not simply the delegates of the Pope, the manuscript of his speech was demanded, in order that he might be proceeded against for derogating from the authority of the Holy See. This was however too much for the Council; and such a storm ensued that his manuscript was returned to him. The Legates however succeeded in avoiding any mention of the Cardinals in the decree on residence, and no reference was made to the question whether it was “jure divino” or not. Residence was simply declared necessary, and power was given to Bishops to visit all the churches of their diocese, including the Cathedral Chapter. The whole decree was, however, limited by the prescription that it was not to diminish in any way the authority of the Holy See. In this form it was solemnly published at the Seventh Session on March 5, 1547, together with decrees on the Sacraments in general, and on baptism and confirmation.

While affairs were thus proceeding in the Council, the Emperor was obtaining a series of successes in Germany which alarmed the Pope. Paul III had no desire to see Charles too powerful, and was afraid that he might come in person to Italy and insist on far-reaching reforms. He therefore determined to authorize the Legates to transfer the Council to Bologna. The translation was not, however, to be carried out on the sole authority of the Legates, but they were to endeavor to obtain a vote of the Council approving of it. A convenient pretext was found in the fact that there had been a few cases of plague in Trent; and, on the ground that the health of the Fathers was endangered, at the Eighth public Session (March 11, 1547) the Council by 38 votes to 14, with 4 abstentions, decided to adjourn to Bologna. Cardinal Pacheco and the Spanish Bishops however remained at Trent and awaited the Emperor’s orders.

Charles was exceedingly angry when he heard the news. He refused in any way to recognize the translation of the Council; and the Spanish Bishops were prohibited from quitting Trent on any pretext whatsoever. They were, however, to refrain from any conciliar act which might provoke a schism. The course of European politics during the next two years has been narrated elsewhere. Charles remained firm. His political difficulties did not diminish, but the mission of Cardinal Sfondrato did not move him, and Paul III was disappointed of his hopes from France. The Diet of Augsburg recognized the prelates at Trent as the true Council; and the Emperor attempted to settle the religious affairs of the nation by the Interim until a General Council acceptable to him should meet. Nothing remained for Paul III but to bow to the inevitable; and on September 17, 1549, he formally suspended the Council of Bologna. The Pope made a show of himself undertaking the reform of the Church, and appointed a commission of Cardinals for the purpose; but before his real intentions in the matter could become clear he died (November 10, 1549).

The Cardinal del Monte came out of the conclave as Julius III on February 7, 1550. Reginald Pole was nearly elected, but Caraffa reminded the Conclave of his Lutheran tendencies at the Council, and succeeded in turning the scale against him. Cervini was the candidate of the party of reaction; but the Imperialists regarded him as their most dangerous enemy at Trent and secured his exclusion. Del Monte, though he had been not less hostile to the interests of the Emperor, might be gained over; and events justified to some extent their anticipations. The new Pope was utterly selfish. He only desired to enjoy the Papacy in peace, and he was quite willing to acquiesce in the Emperor’s wishes, so far as they did not entail any loss of power to the Holy See. He at once agreed to the return of the Council to Trent, and on November 14, 1550, published a Bull summoning it to meet on May 1, 1551. In return for a guarantee from the Emperor that the papal authority should remain intact, he even consented to leave it an open question whether the preceding decisions of the Council were binding and to grant the Lutherans a hearing.

The new Pontificate seemed to be opening under the most favorable auspices. Reform was again entered upon at Rome. A commission of six Cardinals was appointed to consider the conditions of appointment to benefices, and another commission to reform the procedure of Conclaves. Difficulties, however, soon arose. Henry II of France wished the Pope to join a league against the Emperor, and, when he declined, refused to recognize the coming Council. The German Bishops, and still more the Protestants, despaired of any good result from another papal assembly, and showed no eagerness to attend. The Spaniards likewise were reluctant to take a long journey which would probably be fruitless. Only some forty prelates were present at Trent when the Council was reopened on May 1, 1551. Cardinal Marcello Crescenzio, together with two Bishops, Pighino, Archbishop of Siponto, and Lippomano, Bishop of Verona, were the papal representatives. The two Bishops, with the title of Nuncios, were to assist Crescenzio, who alone exercised the legatine authority.

 

1551] Second meeting of the Council.

 

The choice of presidents did not augur well for the success of the Assembly. Crescenzio was a blind adherent of the Papacy, and obstinate to boot; and his assistants were equally attached to the curial party. They well understood that it was their business to proceed further with the emphatic restatement of the old dogma in the interests of the Papacy, which had been so successfully begun. The Papacy had no more intention of conciliation in doctrine than it had during the Sessions held under Paul III. The second meeting at Trent was thus, from the beginning, doomed to failure so far as the Protestants were concerned, as the first had been. The Emperor and the Pope were no more in real agreement than before. The meagre attendance at the opening left no alternative to the Council but to adjourn; and September 1 was accordingly fixed for the first (Twelfth) public Session. By that time the Electors of Mainz and Trier had arrived, together with a few other German and Spanish Bishops. It was agreed to take up the work at the point at which it had been dropped in the previous assembly of the Council; and in this manner all its previous decisions were tacitly confirmed. In such circumstances it was little good attempting to persuade the Protestants to send representatives to the Council ; but nevertheless the Emperor persevered in the attempt.

The doctrine of the Eucharist was the first subject entered upon by the Council. Laynez and Salmeron, who again appeared in the Council as the Pope’s theologians, and with a greater influence than ever, strongly opposed any concession to Protestant views in the matter, even in points of discipline, such as communion in both kinds. The Jesuits had a considerable share in drawing up the decrees and adopted a purely conservative attitude. The German prelates, however, and a few others advocated strongly a concession with regard to the cup. Finally, at the request of the representative of the Emperor, the matter was deferred until the Protestants should arrive. Meanwhile the discussion on reform was resumed. The abuse of the right of appeal to the Pope from the episcopal Courts was prohibited, and the procedure of the Courts regulated. Decrees to this effect, together with the decisions on the Eucharist, omitting those on communion in both kinds, were promulgated at the Thirteenth public Session, which was held on October 11, 1551. A safe-conduct was also granted to the Protestants who should attend the Council, though not until after much negotiation as to its exact wording.

The Legate began now to grow anxious as to the course affairs would take on the arrival of the Protestants, and tried to hasten the deliberations of the Council. At the general Congregation on November 5, Crescenzio proposed that the Fathers, in order to save time, should simply accept or reject the articles that the theologians had prepared. The proposal was, however, rejected by a bare majority. As the two Jesuits were now the most influential among the theologians, the success of the Legate’s proposal would have meant that they would have practically dictated the decrees of the Council.

The Sacraments of Penance and of Extreme Unction were next discussed, together with thirteen further decrees on reform. Many minor grievances were removed, but burning questions were skillfully avoided. The conclusions arrived at were promulgated at the Fourteenth public Session, held on November 25, 1551. At length, in January, 1552, some Protestant delegates arrived in Trent, representing the Duke of Württemberg, the Elector Maurice of Saxony, and a few of the south German towns. The Legate opposed their admission to the public Congregation unless they first accepted all the conclusions of the Council; but the representatives of the Emperor finally overcame the opposition of the Legate, and the delegates were allowed to address the general Congregation on January 24, 1552. The only result was to reveal how wide was the gulf between the Council and the Protestants. Nevertheless, at the Fifteenth public Session on January 25, 1552, it was decided to adjourn the next public Session until March 19, 1552, in order to enable other Protestants to arrive; and another and more explicit safe-conduct was granted to them. The theological discussions meanwhile continued, but nothing was done. It was obvious that the situation was hopeless. In February many of the Bishops departed. In March the Protestant delegates also left; and finally, on the news of the rapid advance of Maurice of Saxony, the Council was suspended on April 28, 1552.

 

1655-9] Policy of Pope Paul IV.

 

The Peace of Passau (1552) and its confirmation at the Diet of Augsburg (1555) marked the failure of the Emperor’s policy. The unity of the Church was definitely broken. The two Confessions were compelled to tolerate one another in their respective spheres; and all attempts at conciliation and compromise were abandoned. So far as the Papacy was concerned, the Council passed away as a bad dream. Julius III determined to risk no more experiments; and the remainder of his pontificate was spent in beautifying his villa near the Porta del Popolo, the Villa di Papa Giulio, which is his chief memorial. On his death on March 24,1555, Cervini at last ascended the papal throne as Marcellus II. He was the first true Pope of the Counter-Reformation, of blameless life and untarnished orthodoxy, and zealous for reform. A friend of the Jesuits, he was at the same time tactful and diplomatic; and he well understood the maxim that on occasions more prudence and less piety was better than more piety and less prudence. But Marcellus II only survived his election three weeks, and was succeeded by the uncompromising Caraffa, who took the title of Paul IV. The Counter-Reformation was now master.

The new reign began in earnest with reform. The Papacy itself would purify the Church and needed no Council to assist it. A Bull was published announcing that the first care of the new Pontiff would be the reform of the universal Church and of the Roman Court. Congregations were appointed to carry out this announcement. Edict after edict was issued for the reform of convents; and the whole method of appointment to clerical offices was overhauled. But what no one could have anticipated happened. Reform and the Catholic reaction were sacrificed to what Paul IV thought were the political interests of the Holy See. He had ever been a hater of Spain, and he now made it his object to free the Papacy from its thralldom. His unworthy nephews attained an ascendancy over him by playing upon the anti-Spanish mania of the old man. The purification of the Church sank into the background.

But the failure of his nephews to achieve the object dearest to his heart opened his eyes towards the end of the year 1558; and, when Cardinal Pacheco had the courage at the session of the Inquisition on January 9, 1559, to reply to Paul’s excited cries of “Reform! Reform!, Holy Father, reform must first of all begin among ourselves”, the Pope was convicted of sin. His nephews were banished, and reform of the whole administration in Church and State was again begun. A large remission of taxation had marked Paul’s accession, and the burdens of the people were now still further lightened. The Dataria, on which all the schemes of reform under Paul III had been shattered, was taken in hand once more, and with a considerable measure of success. The removal of vexatious taxation and of the toll on good works was pressed forward. At the beginning of the reign Ignatius and Laynez had been consulted; and Paul IV realized from the example of their Society that freedom of spiritual services was the road to success. He saw that the whole system of fees levied on every possible occasion was utterly bad. Marriage dispensations, a very profitable source of revenue, he would have none of. Officials must not live by Court fees, nor should their offices be bought and sold, or performed by a deputy who had to make his own profit. In short, the object of Paul’s reforms was to substitute direct for indirect taxation. The levying of tenths was approved; and the people were to be taught that it was their duty to give directly towards the support of the Holy See. At the same time Paul IV recognized that too many of the rights of the Bishops had been absorbed by Rome; and in this way many of his reforms anticipated the ordinances made later in the last Sessions of the Council of Trent.

An equal zeal for purity of doctrine and for purity of life was shown by the energetic old man. The Inquisition exercised its powers with the utmost vigor, and even Cardinals were not spared. Morone was imprisoned; and the suppression of liberal Catholicism as well as Protestant opinions was now definitely taken in hand. The Inquisition and the Index suppressed the slightest tendency to diverge from medieval theology. The spirit of Ignatius and his Society had now taken possession of the Church.

Paul IV, however, died on August 18, 1559; and an immediate reaction set in in Rome. The severity of his measures had made him many enemies; and even among those in favor of reform there was a considerable number who had no wish that it should be the arbitrary work of the Pope. All the Cardinals accordingly, before entering the Conclave, bound themselves to summon anew the General Council in the case of their being elected; and on December 26, 1559, Giovanni Angelo de' Medici was elected Pope. He was a Milanese, of middle-class origin, and unconnected with the great Florentine family. Learned and kindly and of exemplary life, he was better acquainted with the times in which he lived than his predecessor had been. He wished to live at peace with all men, and to win the support of the Catholic monarchs for the Holy See. At the same time, he had no intention of suffering any diminution of the papal prerogative. Before his accession he had expressed himself in favor of concessions in discipline, such as the practice of communion in both kinds; and he believed that by this means a Council might heal the divisions of the Catholic world without endangering the rights of the Holy See. Events showed that it was not so easy to confine the issues to such narrow lines; but at the opening of his reign Pius IV looked forward to a Council with no misgiving.

The Emperor Ferdinand and Francis II of France greeted with approval the proposals of the Pope to hold a Council. But they at once proceeded to name conditions which were received with little favor at Rome. Complete freedom must be given to the Council. It must be held in a German town, and it should work above all for the reconciliation of the Protestants. In view of these proposals, Pius IV, chiefly under the influence of his nephew Carlo Borromeo, Secretary of State, drew back from the idea of a Council. The Pope, in his turn, made impossible conditions, and considered the question of carrying out the necessary reforms by means of Congregations of Cardinals. Events in France, however, compelled the Pope to proceed with the proposed Council. The States-General at Orleans (January 10, 1561) ordered the French Bishops to meet on January 20, 1561, to prepare for a National Council if the announcement which had been made of a General Council were not carried out. A papal Bull had been issued on November 29, 1560, summoning a Council to Trent for April 6, 1561; and Pius hastened to assure the French of the seriousness of his intentions. The French national synod was accordingly abandoned; and Trent was accepted as the place of meeting. Before the assembly could meet there was, however, another difficulty to be settled. The Emperor and the French government wished for an explicit declaration that the Council was a new assembly, and not merely a continuation of the previous Sessions at Trent as Philip II and the Spanish Church insisted. The sympathies of the Pope were with Philip; but it was necessary not to offend the Emperor and the French. Accordingly the question was left in doubt, and no definite pronouncement was made on the matter.

Meanwhile the preparations for the Council went on. The Pope instructed his Nuncios to invite all Christian Princes to the Council, whether schismatic or not. The Protestant Powers, however, had little confidence in the proposed assembly; and it soon became clear that the Council would be confined to the nations still in communion with the See of Rome. Ferdinand, however, and the French government had no intention of allowing the Council simply to register the wishes of the Curia. Both Powers wished for concessions which might unite to the Church the moderate Protestants and disaffected Catholics in their dominions. The reforms which, they desired are enumerated in the instructions given to the French ambassadors at the Council, and in the Libel of Reformation which the Emperor caused to be drawn up. The Mass in the vulgar tongue, revision of the service books, communion in both kinds, the marriage of priests, reform of the Curia and a reduction in the number of Cardinals, the enforcement of residence on ecclesiastics, the abolition of the whole system of dispensations and exemptions, and a limitation of the power of excommunication, were among the chief points demanded. The whole Church system was in fact to be revised, and the share of the Papacy in its government to be reduced. Bavaria supported most of these demands; and in fact nearly all Catholics north of the Alps desired a radical reform of the Church.

Philip II and the Spanish Bishops, on the other hand, wished for no alteration in the ritual and practice of the Church; but they equally desired a thorough reform of the Curia and a diminution of the papal authority. At the same time they wished it to be distinctly declared that the assembly was a continuation of the previous Council, and that an effectual bar should be thus provided against any advances towards Protestantism. The Spanish Bishops were opposed, even more strongly than the papal Court, to any alteration in the discipline and practice of the Church. The division among the Catholic Powers gave the Papacy a means of which it was quick to avail itself. The history of the third meeting of the Council of Trent is mainly the story of the skilful diplomacy with which the Papacy played off one nation against another and succeeded in bringing all efforts for radical reform to naught. The task was not difficult, as there was little cooperation among the Powers even in the pursuit of objects which they had in common ; and the Council ended in strengthening rather than weakening the papal grip upon the Church. The Papacy supported by the Italian episcopate defied the Christian world.

No less than five Legates were appointed to preside over the Council. At their head was placed Ercole di Gonzaga, Cardinal of Mantua, brother of the Duke, a man of conciliatory disposition; and he had for his colleagues Girolamo Seripando, the former General of the Augustinians, who had played a prominent part in the earlier Sessions, Luigi Simonetta, and Jacopo Puteo, both of them canonists of renown, and Stanislaus Hosius, who had worked hard against heresy in Poland. The last-named three were firmly devoted to the papal interests. Puteo, however, soon fell ill, and his place was taken by Cardinal Marc d'Altemps, Bishop of Constance, a young man of little experience. Ludovico Madruzzo, nephew of Cardinal Madruzzo, had succeeded his uncle in the bishopric of Trent, and received the Legates on their arrival on April 16, 1561.

 

Third meeting of the Council at Trent. [1561-2

 

The Bishops, however, arrived but slowly, and summer and autumn went by. At length the Pope could wait no longer, and fixed the first (Seventeenth) Session for January 18, 1562. There were then assembled for the opening of the Council five Cardinals, three Patriarchs, eleven Archbishops, ninety Bishops, four Generals of Orders, and four Abbots. The first business undertaken by the Council was the question of an Index of Prohibited Books. It was decided to revise the Index issued by Paul IV; and a commission of eighteen prelates was appointed for the purpose. A safe-conduct was then granted to any Protestants who might come to the Council in the same terms as that granted under Julius III. But this was nothing more than a formality, as there was not the least prospect that any would attend. It was, however, necessary to satisfy the Emperor so far. Although the numbers present at the opening of the Council were greater than they had ever been in any of the earlier Sessions at Trent or Bologna, the assembly was purely a gathering of the Catholic world. There was no longer even the possibility, which had existed at an earlier date, of a frank meeting of the Protestants and a consideration of their objections. The Papacy had defeated the attempt before, and mutual distrust now made it hopeless. The interest of the third meeting of the Council lies in the effort made by certain elements in Catholicism to readjust the balance of forces in the government of the Church, and to satisfy the needs of Catholics north of the Alps.

The cleft between the parties revealed itself at the very beginning of the Council. The Legates inserted in the decree concerning the opening of the Council the words “proponentibus legatis ac praesidentibus”. Against this the Spanish Bishops, led by Guerrero, Archbishop of Granada, protested. Its object was to diminish the independent power of the Council apart from the Pope, by taking away its right of initiative. Any proposals hurtful to the Papacy and the Curia would thus be barred. Philip II through his ambassadors supported the objections of the Spanish Bishops to the clause. The Legates however explained the words away, and the opposition had not the courage to bring the matter to the vote. The situation at first was not very promising for the opposition. A little group of Spanish Bishops, led by a determined man, the Archbishop of Granada, stood face to face with an overwhelming number of Italian prelates, the great majority of whom were devoted to or dependent upon the Curia. A few northern Bishops and a few independent Italians supported them, but they were not certain of the help even of all the Spaniards. Some of these, chief of whom was the Bishop of Salamanca, had already been won over by the Curia. Behind the Spanish Bishops, however, were the Catholic Powers. All alike were determined to maintain the liberty of the Council to declare its supremacy over the Pope, and to free the Church from the curial despotism. There was, however, no harmony of action and a singular lack of cooperation among them, even for the objects which they had in common. Moreover their efforts were ultimately paralyzed by the fact that, while the Emperor and France desired the Council to start entirely afresh and to make concessions in Church ritual and practice which would meet the needs of their respective countries, Spain, on the other hand, was determined that the Council should be considered a continuation of the old, and develop the old dogma and practice on the traditional lines. The skilled intriguers of the Curia found a promising field for their work.

The second (Eighteenth) public Session was held on February 26, 1562. The resolutions with regard to the Index and the safe-conduct to the Protestants were then published. The Congregations, meanwhile, proceeded with their work; and doctrine and reform were taken in hand together as before. The decrees on the Eucharist were taken up at the point where they had been left in 1552. Communion in both kinds, and the communion of children, remained to be considered. The articles of reform dealt with diocesan and parochial administration; and the question of the residence of Bishops was again raised. Simonetta endeavored to avoid a declaration on the subject; but to this the Council would not consent; and on March 11, 1562, its discussion was begun by the general Congregation. The Council was unanimous as to the necessity of residence; the only disagreement was as to its being “jure divino” or merely “lege ecclesiastica”. This indirectly raised the question of the limits of papal authority; and the controversy soon became heated. The Legates were not agreed as to the attitude they should adopt. Simonetta opposed any concession on the subject, while the Cardinal of Mantua and Seripando hesitated. At length, on April 20, the Legates put the question to the vote. 66 voted for the divine nature of the obligation of residence, while 71 either rejected it or voted for remitting the question to the Pope. The result was not altogether pleasing to the Curial party. Only a minority had voted for a direct negative on the subject. Simonetta wrote secret letters to Rome, accusing his colleagues of betraying the interests of the Holy See by precipitately putting the matter to the vote. The whole Council was now in a state of confusion. The Cardinal of Mantua and Seripando ceased to feel sure of their ground. The papal letters to the Legates changed their tone. Borromeo urged Simonetta to oppose any action of his colleagues which would be hurtful to the interests of the Holy See. The recall of the Cardinal of Mantua was seriously considered at Home. Everything stood still while frequent letters were exchanged between the Legates and Rome. The French ambassador profanely remarked that the Council was not free, as the Holy Spirit came to Trent in the courier's bag from Rome.

To add to the difficulties of the Legates, on June 2 a despatch arrived from Rome ordering the Council to be definitely declared a continuation. Philip II had insisted on this, and the Pope had had to give way. But, no sooner had the news arrived, than the French and Imperial ambassadors declared that they and the prelates of their respective countries would take no further part in the Council if this were done. There was nothing for the Legates to do but to temporize, in spite of the distinct orders of the Pope; and on June 6 the Twentieth Session was held, merely to be prorogued. Meanwhile, the general Congregation continued the discussion of the decrees on the Eucharist; and here the question of communion in both kinds caused further trouble. A cross division of parties arose, Spain and Italy against France and Germany. The Imperial ambassadors allowed themselves to be outwitted by the Legates. The consideration of Ferdinand’s Libel of Reformation was deferred; and the Council occupied itself with matters of purely secondary importance. The Legates knew well how to follow Borromeo’s advice and to gain “il beneficio del tempo”.

Pius IV meanwhile hesitated. He gave way to the Legates on the point of the continuation and left the logic of facts to demonstrate its reality. He mollified Philip as best he could. With regard to the obligation of residence nothing was done. After the vote of April 20 the Legates had referred it to the Pope, and rumors reached Trent that Pius had declared it to be “jure divino” but this was not confirmed. The Curia came to no decision. It was unwise to run counter to the opinion of the great majority of the Catholic world in the matter, and the question was left in suspense. To show the zeal of the Papacy three Bulls were published at the end of May reforming the Apostolic Chamber, the Penitentiary, and the Chancery; and meanwhile the Council marked time.

So hopeless did the situation appear that the Pope even contemplated the transference of the Council to an Italian town and a complete breach with the non-Italian nations. So strong an opposition, however, showed itself to the mere suggestion that the idea had to be abandoned; and other means were adopted to bring the Council to a more reasonable frame of mind. Carlo Visconti, afterwards Bishop of Ventimiglia, the Pope’s confidential agent at Trent, worked unceasingly to increase the papal influence in the Council. The old methods were pursued with the Italian Episcopate. When a Bishop arrived at Trent, Visconti consulted with the Legates as to whether he should receive payment for his services or not. Those who could not be reached by pensions were not always proof against the hope of promotion in the Church. When these methods failed, threats were sometimes effective. The few independent Bishops underwent the most outrageous provocations and too easily lost heart. They gave up the struggle before it was half begun. The papal diplomacy was completely successful; and Philip was persuaded to order the Spanish Bishops to let the question of the divine obligation of residence drop for a while. Pius made matters smoother by taking the hint from Visconti to treat the Cardinal of Mantua with more consideration, and flattered many of the Bishops of the opposition with complimentary letters. Simonetta was warned not to show excessive zeal, and he and the Cardinal of Mantua were publicly reconciled.

The Twenty-first public Session was at length held on July 21, 1562, and the decrees on the Eucharist and on reform were solemnly published, the questions of the possibility of granting the chalice and the nature of the obligation of residence being skilfully avoided. The Council went on to discuss the doctrine of the Mass ; and further decrees dealing with reform were drawn up. The Imperial ambassadors, who throughout the Council displayed little tact, pressed on the Legates an immediate consideration of the Emperor's demands for the use of the chalice in Germany. The Pope all along had not felt strongly on the point ; and so persistent was the German demand that he was prepared to accede to it. The Spanish and Italian opposition to the concession was, however, very strong, and Laynez threw all his influence into the scale against it. He read a lengthy theological treatise on the subject, and influenced many votes. In these circumstances it would have been wise for the Emperor to proceed cautiously and not run the risk of an open defeat. The ambassadors, however, thought otherwise ; and on August 22 the Cardinal of Mantua submitted the Emperor's proposal to the Council. The voting took place on September 6, when 29 voted in the affirmative simply; 31 in the affirmative with the proviso that the matter should be referred to the Pope; 19 were in favour of its being granted in Hungary and Bohemia alone; 38 rejected it absolutely; 10 did the same but desired to leave the definite decision to the Pope; 24 were in favour of its being left to the Pope without the Council expressing an opinion ; and 14 thought the matter not yet ripe for decision. It was a discouraging result for the Imperial ambassadors, but they made one more effort and moved a decree recommending to the Pope the request of the Emperor. This was, however, rejected by 79 to 69. The Cardinal of Mantua, however, came to the rescue, to avoid a breach with the Emperor, and on September 16 moved to refer the matter simply to the Pope, without any expression of opinion on the part of the Council. Simonetta gave his support to this proposal, and it was carried by 98 votes to 38. The Emperor thus at the best could get nothing from the Council, and was referred back to the Pope. At the Twenty-second public Session, which took place on the following day (September 17, 1562), the decrees on the Mass and a series of minor reforms were approved; but even then 31 Bishops voted against any reference of the question of the chalice to the Pope.

Sacrament of Orders.

The Council then took up the discussion of the Sacrament of Orders. Though there was little disagreement as to the nature of the grace conferred in ordination, yet the question of the relations of the various members of the hierarchy to one another and to the Pope was likely to cause difficulty, and troubled waters were soon again entered upon. The French and Imperial ambassadors protested against any further definition of dogmas, and demanded that the Council should await the arrival of the French and German Bishops who were on their way. A thorough reform of the Church might then be entered upon. They further complained of the haste in which proceedings were conducted. The Legates only communicated the decrees on reform to the Bishops two days before the general Congregations, and it was impossible to examine them properly in that time. The Legates returned an evasive answer, and the discussions on the Sacrament of Orders were proceeded with. The papal legion was strengthened by the arrival of more Italian Bishops; and at the same time several of the more independent prelates left Trent. The Spaniards felt that it was necessary to assert themselves again; and on November 3 the Archbishop of Granada propounded the view that Bishops were the Vicars of Christ by the divine law under His chief Vicar the Bishop of Rome. This raised the whole question of the Pope’s supremacy, and an angry debate ensued. The Bishop of Segovia went so far as to say that the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome was unknown to the primitive Church. Laynez again made himself the chief advocate of the papal prerogative and displayed a violent hostility to the Episcopate. In the midst of these discussions the Cardinal of Lorraine arrived with twelve French Bishops and three Abbots on November 13, 1562. The attitude which he would adopt was eagerly awaited by both parties. On November 23 the Cardinal appeared in the assembly and in a speech made similar demands to those made by the Emperor in the Libel of Reformation, and a little later declared himself in favor of the divine right of the Episcopate. On January a, 1563, the French demands were formally presented to the Legates. The articles were thirty-four in number and embraced most of the proposals previously demanded by the Emperor. They suffered the same fate as his and were simply forwarded to Rome for consideration.

It was now obvious to all that the Papacy had no intention of carrying out any reforms of importance. The papal policy was clearly expressed in a letter of Borromeo to the Legates, in which he informed them that they must keep two objects in sight, that of strengthening the papal power over the Council, and that of procuring its speedy dissolution. To this intent the Legates endeavored to have the Pope described as “rector universalis ecclesiae” in the canon dealing with the Episcopate; but owing to the opposition of the Cardinal of Lorraine they failed. The interminable discussions continued; month after month passed by and nothing was done. At the beginning of February Ferdinand had moved to Innsbruck with the object of being nearer the scene of affairs. The Legates thereupon sent Commendone to see him and endeavor to come to some understanding. His embassy, however, had little success and he soon returned to Trent.

All turned now upon the action of France and the Emperor. On February 12, 1563, the Cardinal of Lorraine journeyed to Innsbruck to confer with Ferdinand; and there he found assembled with the Emperor, Maximilian, King of the Romans, Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, and the Archbishop of Salzburg. The Cardinal, in a memorandum which he presented to the Emperor, attributed the barren result of the Council to the fact that only matters which had been approved of at Rome were allowed to be decided at Trent. The overwhelming majority of Italian Bishops, and the fact that the right of initiative rested with the Legates alone, prevented any real reform. As a remedy the Cardinal suggested that the Ambassadors should have the right of making proposals directly to the Council, and that a larger number of non-Italian Bishops should be sent for to counterbalance the Italian majority. Above all, the Emperor should come in person to Trent and exercise his influence upon the Council.

Ferdinand, however, saw little hope in these proposals. It was a practical impossibility to find any other non-Italian Bishops who would go to Trent; and his own presence would give the papal party an opportunity of raising the cry that the Council was not free. To attempt to give the Ambassadors a right of initiative in the Council would only lead to the breaking up of the assembly. The Emperor was, in fact, fast losing hope of obtaining any good from the Council. The failure to obtain the concession of the chalice from the Council in September, 1562, was a great disappointment to him; and the slow progress that the Council had made since that time filled him with despair. At the beginning of March, 1563, he turned to the Pope instead of to the Council, in the hope of persuading him to bring about some effective reforms. The Pope threw all the blame for the delay upon the Council, and especially upon the Spanish Bishops for raising theoretic and useless questions. In this way one country could be played off against another. The Papacy perceived, however, that Ferdinand’s confidence in the Council was much shaken, and determined to send a Cardinal to Innsbruck to endeavor to alienate him from it still further.

The new Legates. Canisius. [1563

Meanwhile at Trent still further delay was caused by the death of two of the Legates. The Cardinal of Mantua died on March 2, and Cardinal Seripando on March 17, 1563. Cardinal d'Altemps had returned to Rome some time previously; and Simonetta and Hosius did not care to act alone. They accordingly wrote to the Pope asking that two new Legates might be sent. The papal choice fell upon Morone and Navagero. The former was now a devoted servant of the Papacy and had reestablished his reputation for orthodoxy. He was, however, very acceptable to the Emperor and the moderate party still had some hopes of him. Navagero, on the other hand, was an open adherent of the curial party. The new Legates arrived at Trent on April 13, 1563. Morone, after an introductory discourse to the assembled Fathers, at once set out for Innsbruck. The Jesuit Father, Canisius, was with the Emperor and acted as the agent of the Roman Court in the Imperial entourage. This remarkable man, the first German Jesuit, was perhaps the ablest of the leaders of the Catholic reaction in Germany. Alike at Cologne, where he withstood the influence of the Archbishop Hermann von Wied, and at Ingolstadt, where in 1550 he became Rector of the University, he turned back the advancing tide of Protestantism. In 1552 Ferdinand, then King of the Romans, had summoned him to Vienna, and Canisius soon obtained considerable influence over him. At Ferdinand’s request Canisius drew up a Catechism, which was translated into many languages and from which thousands were instructed in the rudiments of the Catholic faith. His Summa Doctrinae Christianae became the text-book of Catholic teachers and preachers throughout Germany. When Ignatius set up a Province of his Society in Upper Germany, it was only natural that he should place Canisius at its head. Directly Canisius heard of the arrival of Morone at Trent he sent urgent messages to him to come to Innsbruck as soon as possible. France and Spain had not yet agreed upon active cooperation with the Emperor; but with so many objects in common an agreement as to a course of action might occur at any moment. Canisius skillfully prepared the way for Morone. He pointed out to Ferdinand that by an amicable arrangement with the Holy Father he might obtain more than he would ever get from the Council. Ferdinand began to waver. His previous policy had ended in failure. Philip had been unmoved by his warning that reform of the rites and ceremonies of the Church, and not only of its discipline, was necessary to preserve Germany to the Church. By means of the Council he had achieved nothing. Morone now arrived with the definite offer of the concession of the chalice directly the Council should be terminated; and Ferdinand was won over. He agreed to give the Legates his support, and declared himself content with the minor reforms that the Legates proposed to put before the Council. The Papacy had thus gained the first step. It remained to come to terms with the Cardinal of Lorraine and Philip II.

Morone returned to Trent on May 27, and the discussions on the Sacrament of Orders were actively resumed. It was finally decided to avoid all mention of the disputed points as to the direct divine origin of episcopal authority and whether residence was “jure divino” or not. The decrees in this ambiguous form were published at the Twenty-third public Session on July 15, 1563. The difficulties of the Legates were, however, not yet over. Philip sent to the Council a new ambassador, the Count de Luna, who was instructed to demand anew the suppression of the formula “proponentibus legati” and pressed forward the formulation of doctrine and a thorough reform of discipline. But the Emperor gave his support to the Legates, and the situation remained unchanged. National feeling now ran very high, and a dispute as to precedence between the French and Spanish ambassadors nearly brought the Council to an end. The state of tension is well illustrated by the interjection of a member of the Curialist party after a French prelate had denounced the abuses of the Roman Court; “a scabie Hispana incidimus in morbum Gallicum”.

Meanwhile efforts were being made to draw the Cardinal of Lorraine over to the papal party. A man of little sincerity, able and ambitious, he considered his own interests alone. After the death of his brother, the Duc de Guise, and the conclusion of the Treaty of Amboise, his position was not very secure at home; and in those circumstances the friendship of the Holy See was not to be despised. The papal diplomacy began its work early in the year 1563; and by the end of June the Cardinal was won over. Through his influence the French government agreed in August to the Council being brought to an end on the terms which the Emperor had accepted. The French Bishops meekly followed the lead of the Cardinal and ceased to oppose the policy of the Legates. The Spaniards alone remained, and agreement with them was not so easy. They were the puritans of the Council. Political expediency had no meaning to them. As they could not be bought, the only thing for the Papacy to do was to outmaneuver them.

Close of the Council of Trent. [1563

Direct appeals to Philip II to consent to the Council being brought to an end failed; so there was for the time nothing to be done but to allow the Council to occupy itself in matters which were comparatively of little importance. The Sacrament of Matrimony was discussed and its nature defined. The marriage of priests was forbidden without any opposition, though the Imperial ambassadors made a feeble protest. The question of clandestine marriages gave some trouble. They had admittedly given rise to great abuses, but the view that the Sacraments were ipso facto operative (ex opère operato), drove many of the prelates to advocate their recognition. Finally, however, they were, by 133 votes to 59, declared invalid. The work of reform was also continued. The Legates brought forward a series of decrees for the reform of the morals and discipline of the clergy. They involved the abandonment by the Curia of many valuable privileges, but at the same time they entrenched upon the rights of the State. To ecclesiastical tribunals powers were assigned which no government could afford to tolerate; the rights of patrons were interfered with; and immunities of the clergy, which had long been abandoned in practice, were again claimed. The Catholic Powers for once united in their protests, and the more extravagant claims were withdrawn in consequence. The conduct of the Cardinal of Lorraine in this matter shows how completely he had thrown in his lot with the Holy See. He had visited Rome in September, and his head was completely turned by the flattery which he received. He went so far as to advise the French government to submit to some of the extravagant claims put forth on behalf of the clergy; but his advice was not followed. The Council now resolved itself into chaos. The control of the Legates became little more than nominal. Pius himself had consented to a reform of the Cardinals being included in the general reform of the clergy; but the Italian Episcopate were not willing to see what they regarded as the privileges of their nation swept away. They succeeded in reducing the proposed reforms of the Sacred College to a mere shadow. The French ambassadors withdrew to Venice, hopeless of any good coming out of such an assembly. The firmness of the Spanish Bishops, however, prevented the scheme of reform being completely nullified by reservations and exceptions ; and on November 11, 1563, the Twenty-fourth public Session was held, and the decree on matrimony and twenty-one out of the forty-two decrees on reform proposed by the Legates were promulgated, the remaining decrees being deferred to a later Session.

Everything was now subordinated to bringing the Council to an end. The Papacy ordered the Legates to withdraw the proposals which infringed the rights of the State; and canons dealing with the remaining matters under discussion were drawn up with feverish haste. Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, and Indulgences were hastily defined; and twenty more decrees of reformation were prepared. The Spanish ambassador and the Spanish Bishops maintained their protests to the end, but with no avail. A rumor that the Pope was dying hastened matters still faster. The Twenty-fifth Session was opened on December 3, 1563; and on December 4 the Council was brought to an end amid the acclamations of the assembled Fathers. 255 members of the Council signed its decrees, the four Legates, Cardinal Madruzzo and the Cardinal of Lorraine, 3 Patriarchs, 25 Archbishops, 168 Bishops, 7 Abbots, 7 Generals of Orders, and 39 who were absent represented by their proctors.

With the close of the Council of Trent the determination of the principles which were to regulate the reorganization of the Catholic Church was completed. There followed, under the direction of the Papacy, an application and working out in detail of those principles, which was a task of many years; but the struggle was over and the battle won. Medieval theology had been emphatically restated. The scission of Christendom into two halves, each going its own way regardless of the other, was definitely confirmed. The spirit of dogmatic certainty, which drew its chief nourishment from Spanish soil and of which the Society of Jesus was the clearest expression, was to be the predominating influence for the future in the Church. Her doctrine was now completely articulated for the first time. Matters which the medieval Church had left to the speculations of the Schools were now authoritatively settled; and the Church was provided with a logical presentation of her position, definitely marking it off from all other circles of ideas. The issues had been put before the world, and it remained for Catholicism and Protestantism to fight the battle to the bitter end.

Though the triumph of the Counter-Reformation thus enabled the Church to present a united front as against Protestantism, it is not true that all opposition to the prevailing tendencies within the Church had been silenced. Many of the dogmatic decrees of Trent were as such a compromise. The great decree on Justification preserved room in the Church for those Augustinian ideas which the Church had never been completely able to assimilate, and which found subsequent expression in Jansenism. Great as was the influence of the Jesuits at Trent, they did not succeed in winning a complete triumph for their theology. This was not, however, of so great consequence as might appear; for all particular dogmas were beginning to sink into the background, compared with the one great principle that the use and wont of the Roman Church is law, and that to the Pope alone appertains the right to expound the teaching of the Church. The complete expression of this principle was impossible at Trent; the hostile elements were too strong; but the way was laid open. The papal supremacy over the Church received a new extension as the result of the work of the Council. The confirmation of the Pope was acknowledged to be necessary for the validation of its decrees. The supreme power in the universal Church was admitted to rest in the Roman Pontiffs. They were the Vicars of Christ on earth. The attempt to enunciate the direct divine authority of the episcopate was frustrated. The Vaticanum was only the logical outcome of certain elements in the Tridentinum.

The decrees on reformation successfully removed the worst abuses which had brought the Church and the clergy into contempt. The authority of the Bishops over their clergy, both secular and regular, was considerably strengthened; and means were provided for the removal of evil livers and the incompetent. The parochial clergy were compelled to preach; and the whole discipline of the Church was improved. The practical reform, however, that was most far-reaching in its results was probably the establishment of seminaries for the education of the clergy in each diocese. This measure provided the Church with an adequate supply of trained men for its service, and removed the reproach which had formerly rested on the clerical state. At the same time it made the clergy a body more distinct from the laity than they had ever been before. It narrowed the interests of the clergy, and made them to a considerable extent the blind instruments of their superiors. Together with the system of celibacy, it separated the clergy from the ordinary social life of the people, and accentuated the division between the Church and the modern world.

The Council left to the Papacy the right of interpreting its decrees; and Pius IV hastened to enunciate this principle in the Bull Benedictus Deus (January .26, 1564), which confirmed its proceedings. No prelate was to publish any gloss upon the decrees of the Council or venture to interpret them without papal authorization. In 1588 Sixtus V set up a special Congregation of the Council of Trent, to supervise the carrying out of its decisions. Meanwhile the Papacy anxiously endeavored to persuade the Catholic Powers to accept in their entirety the decrees of the Council; but with the decrees on doctrine governments did not concern themselves. They were accepted throughout the Catholic Church, but with the decrees on discipline it was different. Even in the modified form which they received after the protests of the ambassadors, they infringed many ancient rights of the secular power in various countries, rights which it was not likely would be easily abandoned. In the end the decrees on discipline were only accepted in their entirety by the Emperor Ferdinand for his hereditary dominions, by Portugal, and by the King of Poland. France and the Empire never accepted them, while Spain and Venice received them with a reservation of their own rights which had practically the same effect. There were limits beyond which no modern State could allow the papal claims to go.

The tasks which the Council had left to the Pope were actively taken in hand. The Breviary and the Missal were revised, and a new edition of the Corpus Juris Canonici was published. A purification of Church music was begun. A commission of eight Cardinals was appointed on August 2, 1564; and in Palestrina a genius arose who became the founder of modern Church music. His famous Missa di Papa Marcello, performed before the commission on April 28, 1565, subordinated the music to the words, and substituted a dignified and masterly simplicity for the florid and decadent style which had hitherto characterized ecclesiastical music in Rome. The most important task left to the Papacy was however the preparation of an Index of Prohibited Books. So early as 1479 Sixtus IV had empowered the University of Cologne to inflict penalties on printers, purchasers, and readers of heretical books.

The Index of Prohibited Books.

This was confirmed and extended by the Bull Inter multiplices of Alexander VI in 1501. At the Fifth Lateran Leo X in 1515 authorized the Master of the Sacred Palace to act as censor in Rome and the papal States; and the Inquisition in 1543 began to regard the censorship as one of its functions. The first lists of prohibited books were however drawn up in 1546 and 1550 at Louvain, in 1549 at Cologne, and by the Sorbonne between 1544 and 1551. The first papal Index was that of Paul IV, which was published in 1559. It was arranged alphabetically but under each letter came three categories. The first class consisted of the heresiarchs, all of whose writings were prohibited. This was a mere list of names. The second class consisted of writers, some of whose productions, which were enumerated, tended to heresy, impiety, magic, or immorality. The third class consisted of writings, chiefly anonymous, which were unwholesome in doctrine. The Index of Paul IV met with much opposition; and Naples, Milan, Florence, and Venice refused to print or enforce it. Pius IV modified it in 1561 by allowing the use of non-Catholic editions of the Fathers and other inoffensive writings to licensed readers, provided comments by heretics of the first class had been previously erased. No Index Expurgatorius, however, as distinguished from an Index Librorum Prohibitorum, was ever published officially at Rome. The harder work of pointing out particular passages which must be deleted was only undertaken in Spain. The Papacy contented itself with prohibiting books altogether or with a “donec corrigatur” of which nothing came.

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum of Paul IV was however condemned at Trent as a bad piece of work; and a commission was appointed to revise it. Ten rules to be observed were drawn up, but the work itself was left to the Papacy. The new Index was published by the Papacy in March, 1564, and is known as the Tridentine Index. The Index of Paul IV was improved, and some of its worst blunders removed. It was accepted by Portugal, Belgium, Bavaria, and parts of Italy. In 1571 Pius V set up a special Congregation of the Index distinct from the Inquisition; and in 1588 this body was empowered by Sixtus V to undertake further revision of the Index. Twenty-two new rules took the place of the ten laid down at Trent; and this new Index was published in 1590. Shortly after its publication, however, Sixtus V died; and Clement VIII restored the Tridentine rules and issued another Index in 1596. The materials collected for the Index of 1590 were used, though the Spanish Index of Quiroga published in 1584 was one of the chief sources. The Index of 1596 remained the standard, though additions were made to it, until the middle of the eighteenth century.

So far as the southern nations were concerned the Index achieved its work. The peoples who continued to adhere to the Catholic Church were cut off from the culture and science of the North, and a serious blow was dealt to human progress. It was impossible for such measures to succeed ultimately; but for a time at any rate they were a serious hindrance to the advance of knowledge. The learned Jesuit Canisius, in a striking letter written to the Duke of Bavaria in 1581, printed in Reusc’s great history of the Index, pointed out the futility of such measures. Repression by Edicts and Indexes could never succeed, construction was needed as well as destruction, and good authors must be provided to take the place of bad. A revival of Catholic scholarship, such as Canisius advocated, marked the close of the sixteenth century, a revival in which his own Order played a prominent part. Rome became again a centre of Christian learning; and the Annals of Baronius were worthy to stand by the Centuries of Magdeburg: New editions of the Fathers were prepared. In 1587 appeared the Roman edition of the Septuagint, and both Sixtus V and Clement VIII endeavored to improve the text of the Vulgate. Historical scholarship ceased to be the monopoly of one party. The Jesuits were the equals in learning of their adversaries and their educational system was immeasurably superior. Protestantism in Germany was torn asunder by petty feuds; and by sheer force of superior ability and unremitting labor Catholicism was restored, first in the Rhine lands and then on the Danube. The story of this work, the success of which drove Protestantism to desperation and assisted to provoke the Thirty Years’ War, is beyond our scope. It is sufficient to notice here that it was the fruit of that new Catholicism which emerged triumphant from the Council of Trent. Saintliness of life and the beauty of holiness were again exhibited to the world in a Carlo Borromeo and a Filippo Neri; while Protestantism was too often sinking into a time-serving Erastianism or developing an arid scholasticism of its own which quenched the springs of religious life.

Increased centralization in government and strict definition of dogma made Catholicism after Trent a far more powerful fighting force than it had ever been before, but it was only at the price of drawing in its borders and limiting its sympathies. There is a curious likeness in essence, though in forms of expression they are poles asunder, between Puritanism in England and the movement of which Caraffa and Ignatius are the typical representatives in the Roman Church. Both alike subordinate the wider interests of humanity to the supposed requirements of religious faith. The sacred was rigidly marked off from the profane; and the culture of the world and its wisdom were banned and avoided as evil in themselves. The world was given up as hopeless, and the attempt to separate its evil from its good was abandoned. The work which Clement of Alexandria and Origen had begun for the ancient Church, and Thomas Aquinas and the great Schoolmen had achieved for the Church of the Middle Ages, was not done anew for the modern world. The true Renaissance was not absorbed into the circle of ecclesiastical ideas; and the medieval conception of Catholicity was limited rather than widened. The modern world, if not actually hostile to the Church, grew up apart from it and by its side rather than under its influence. The kingdom of intellectual unity which Raffaelle had depicted for Julius II on the walls of the Vatican was not realized. The leaders of the Christian Renaissance had not the moral enthusiasm or the force of character necessary for the task. As the gentle Andrewes and the gracious Falkland had to give way before the sterner enthusiasm and the narrow pedantry of Laud, which in its turn fell before a more single-minded but still narrower creed, so Contarini and his associates abdicated the leadership to Ignatius and Caraffa. Neither Pole nor Morone had the spirit of martyrdom; and freedom could not triumph without its roll of martyrs. It was left to the sects in the future to vindicate the rights of conscience, and to extort by force from without what liberal churchmen had failed to achieve within the Church. There was a touch of the dilettante spirit in the aristocratic circles of the Catholic reformers in Italy at the opening of the sixteenth century which paralyzed their efforts and enervated their moral fibre. The movement was too academic to influence the world effectively. Some of its members fell into the sins which they themselves had denounced, and like Cortese ended their lives in joining in the hunt for benefices. The rest contented themselves with a lower ideal as best they could, and stood helplessly aside. The Church was reformed and underwent a moral regeneration ; but religious and intellectual freedom were left further off than ever. The issues at stake were, however, made clear, and the parties in the great struggle were definitely marked out. A modus vivendi between authority and liberty could not be found. Neither would tolerate the other, and Europe was doomed to be the battlefield of the contending principles. The sword alone could be the arbiter.