Of a sudden, as if in another gust of passion, he made a clean sweep of the obstacles which his own perversity had placed in his path, and then took up in terrible earnest the work of church reform.
Continuing The Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation,
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Previously in The Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation.
Place: Trento, Italy
But once more the seductions of the temporal power overcame its holder. Caraffa’s residence in Spain, and enthusiasm for the religious ideals and methods prevalent there, had not eradicated the bitterly anti-Spanish feeling inborn in him as a Neapolitan, and Charles V, returning hatred for hatred, had done his utmost to offend the dignity and damage the interests of the Cardinal. To these personal and national sentiments had been added the conviction that the Emperor’s dealings with the German Protestants had encouraged them to deal a deadly blow to the unity and strength of the Church; and thus Paul IV allowed himself to be borne away by passion. His fiery temperament, fretted rather than soothed by old age, left him and those around him no peace; he maltreated the imperialist cardinals and the dependents of the Emperor within his reach, and sought to instigate the French government to take up arms once more.
Of a sudden, as if in another gust of passion, he made a clean sweep of the obstacles which his own perversity had placed in his path, and then took up in terrible earnest the work of church reform. He would allow no appointment savoring of corruption to any spiritual office; he would hear of no exception to the duty of residence; he completely abolished dispensations for marriages within prohibited degrees. Into the general management of the churches of the city, as well as into that of his own papal court, he introduced so strict a discipline that Rome was likened to a well-conducted monastery. But the agency which above all others he encouraged was that which his own advice had established in the centre of the Catholic world — the Inquisition. From the sacred college downward, no sphere of life was exempted from its control; and his intolerance extended itself to the very Jews whose privileges in the papal states he ruthlessly revoked. On his death-bed he recommended the Inquisition with the holy see itself to the pious cardinals surrounding him. It was afterward observed that many reforms decreed in its third period by the Council of Trent were copied from the ordinances issued by Paul IV in this memorable _biennium_. But inasmuch as during his pontificate the Church of Rome had lost ground in almost every country of Europe except Italy and Spain, his death (August 18, 1559) naturally brought with it a widespread renewal of the demand for remedies more effective than those supplied by his feverish activity and by the operations of his favorite institution.
Personally, Pius IV (1559-1566) was regarded, and probably chosen, as an opponent of the late Pope; his family history inclined him to the Imperial interest, and he was understood to favor concessions to Germany with a view of bringing her stray sheep back into the fold. But in general he furthered rather than arrested the religious reaction. Above all, the Inquisition, though he is not known to have done anything to intensify its rigor or augment its authority, went on as before. Carlo Borromeo,[*] the nephew of Pius IV, served the holy see in a spirit of unselfish devotion, and began those efforts on behalf of religion which in the end obtained for him a place among the saints of the Church — a position not reached by many popes’ nephews. With the aid of this influence, Pius IV came to perceive that the future, both of the Church and of the papacy, depended on the spirit of confidence and cohesion which could be infused into the former; nor had he from the very outset of his pontificate ever doubted the expediency of reassembling the council at Trent.
[*] Count Carlo Borromeo, Italian cardinal, Archbishop of Milan, was one of the most noted of the ecclesiastical reformers. He was canonized in 1610.
The emperor Ferdinand and the French Government, who persisted in treating the reunion of the Church as the primary object of the council, at first strongly urged the substitution for Trent of a genuinely German or French town, where the German bishops, and perhaps even the Protestants, would feel no scruple about attending. But a totally free and new council of this description lay outside the horizon of the papacy; and Pius IV might have let fall the plan altogether but for the fear of the entire separation in that event of the Gallican Church from Rome. In France, Protestantism had made considerable strides during the reign of Henry II (1547-1559). About six weeks before the death of Henry the first national synod of Protestants was held at Paris (May, 1559). Under Francis II the Guise influence became paramount, and the persecution of the Protestants continued. But though the suppression, just before this, of the so-called conspiracy of Amboise had temporarily added to the power of the Guises, it had also made the Queen-mother, Catherine de’ Medici, resolve not to let the power of the state pass wholly out of her hands. Hence the appointment of the large-hearted L’Hospital as chancellor, and the assembly of notables at Fontainebleau (August), where the grievances against Rome found full expression, and where arrangements were made for a meeting of the States-general and a national council of the French Church. This resolution determined Pius IV to lose no further time. On November 29, 1560, he issued a bull summoning all the prelates and princes of Christendom to Trent for the following Easter. The invitation included both Eastern schismatics and Western heretics, Elizabeth of England among the rest; but neither she nor the German Protestant princes assembled at Naumburg, nor the kings of the Scandinavian North, would so much as receive the papal summons. In France the death of Francis II (December 5, 1560) further depressed the Guise influence; and Catherine entered into negotiations with the Pope with a view to concessions such as would satisfy the Huguenots while approved by the French bishops. The “Edict of January” (1562), which followed, long remained a sort of standard of fair concessions to the Huguenots.
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