The Catholic Reformation

By Michael A. Mullett | Go to book overview

4

The papacy and the episcopate of the Catholic Reformation

In Chapter 1 we considered the reforming work of popes up to the time of Trent and in Chapter 2 we looked at the involvement of the papacy with the Council between 1545 and 1563. We shall now examine the part played by popes in the implementation of the Tridentine measures in the second half of the sixteenth century and then turn to review the work of bishops in renewing the religious life of their dioceses, culminating in the activity of Carlo Borromeo at Milan.

Although the papacy continued to direct Catholic renewal well into the seventeenth century and beyond, especially with such popes as Urban VIII and Benedict XIV (1740-58), we shall see that the period from the closure of Trent to the end of the sixteenth century was critical to the rebuilding of the institution’s power and prestige in early modern Europe. Pius IV, who had steered the council to a successful conclusion, adopted its measures in the bull Benedictus Dei of January 1564. However, as Ranke found, after the dispersal of the Council, this pope’s personal commitment to reform lapsed. While he made himself popular with the Romans by executing the corrupt Carafa nephews of Paul IV, Pius IV himself dispensed court patronage in the fashion of the popes of the high Renaissance, had three children and appointed to the College of Cardinals a boy and a young man, both from Italian princely families, both well below the canonical age for appointment—clear departures from the Council’s recent directives. With his death in December 1565, the advocates of renewal looked for a restoration of its momentum. When fifty cardinals gathered for the electoral conclave following Pius’s death, the Cardinal of Alessandria, Michele Ghislieri (1504-72), was the obvious standard-bearer of reform in the Carafa tradition. Ghislieri was born at Bosco, near Tortona in northern Italy, ‘of a poor though noble family’ which raised him for the Church. He became a Dominican in 1519, studied theology in Bologna, was ordained in Genoa and taught theology in Pavia for sixteen years. In 1543 Ghislieri made a powerful impact as a reformer at his order’s general chapter in Parma and was subsequently prior of various Dominican convents. His association with the Inquisition, which began when it sent him to reconcile disputes in Switzerland, was strengthened when, on the nomination of Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa, Julius III made him commissary general of the Congregation of the Holy Office. That association with Carafa was consolidated when, following his election as Paul IV, Carafa made him a

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The Catholic Reformation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - ‘reform in Head and Members’ 1
  • 2 - The Council of Trent and the Catholic Reformation 29
  • 3 - New Religious Orders 69
  • 4 - The Papacy and the Episcopate of the Catholic Reformation 111
  • 5 - The Impact of the Catholic Reformation 142
  • 6 - The Catholic Reformation and the People 175
  • 7 - The Catholic Reformation and the Arts 196
  • Notes 215
  • Index 247
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