What Fr Daniel Donovan writes today are tales we were never taught in a Catholic school or, if they were, in the most fleeting of ways. Following on from his commentary yesterday, Fr Daniel today explores in more detail the goings on in the immediate aftermath of the Council of Trent. This is preparatory to his final commentary tomorrow which compares all this to the situation we are witnessing today.
Trent's Vision and the Inquisition...
The vision of the Council of Trent, to reform and heal the Church was dashed during the papacy of Paul IV whose obsession with heresy and heretics simply prospered Church division. A similar abandonment of the vision of Vatican II by Pope John Paul II has sparked a similar crisis for the Church of the New Millennium. The present Pope Benedict XVI has complicated the rather precarious state of affairs inherited from his predecessor by his claim "to affect the disaffected" without fully, assessing the long term consequences of such a plan for the universal Church.
Julius III, the successor of Paul III, reconvened the Council at Trent in 1551 but was obliged to suspend the Council again, in 1552 following its sixteenth session, in order to pursue a military campaign against the French army. The Pope was obliged to attend to the ongoing problems in Parma and had successfully, managed to evict Duke Ottavia Farnese (grandson of Pope Paul III). The combined imperial and papal armies were defeated by the French army which immediately, reinstated the troublesome Ottavia Farnese in Parma. Humiliated, discouraged and broken Julius was forced into a truce and thereafter retreated to his personal villa outside the Porta del Popolo, to indulge wholeheartedly in "pleasurable pursuits".
Julius did (despite his personal problems) contribute to Church life and world mission. He approved the Society of Jesus (1534) whose members became great missionaries in the Indies, Far East and the Americas. He appointed Cardinal Reginald Pole, the papal legate to England with the expressed purpose of absolving the schism imposed on the English Church under Henry VIII. Under Mary I then the English Church was restored to full communion with Rome. Cardinal Giovanni Morone (1509-1580) was dispatched by the Pope to the Diet of Augsburg, in order to negotiate a plan for the peaceful co-existence of Protestants and Catholics in Germany
Unfortunately, Julius' efforts to broker a peace between Rome and Germany and to implement the decrees of Trent were curtailed by the short papacy of Marcellus II allowing the irascible Paul IV fired by his hatred of heretics to dump the Council and adopt a more military approach through the Inquisition. Pius IV did reconvene Trent (sessions 17-25) in 1562 and Richard McBrien writes that Pius guided the Council to "a successful conclusion the following year" but these final sessions were little more than "an in house affair" for the Catholics with not any Protestant delegates attending for fear of their lives.
Paul IV had headed up the Inquisition and remained committed to the belief that "outside the Church, there is no salvation" and therefore any negotiations with "heretics" who dared to question the Church were simply out of the question. "Heretics" faced the Inquisition which had power to investigate and sentence any person suspected of heresy (even bishops and cardinals) and to imprison or execute them. The disastrous methods of the Inquisition were used to settle and codify the Church, all discussion with the reformed Churches was suspended and the pope himself proved to be the single impetus to the success of the Reformation in England. The autocratic and passionate Paul inspired by a medieval conception of papal supremacy was revolted by Spanish rule in Italy and on the advice of his Cardinal-nephew, Carlo Carafa, allied himself with France and waged war on Spain. The papal forces were defeated by the Duke of Alva who as viceroy of Naples overran the Papal States and forced the pope to accept "the fortunately generous peace of Cave" (Sept 12 1557).
Giovanni Pietro Carafa (1476-1559): Victim or Villain?
Gian Pietro Carafa (Paul IV) said of himself, "I have never conferred a favour on any human being", and on another occasion referring to his fanatical hatred of heretics said, "Even if my own father were a heretic, I would gather the wood to burn him". This callousness which defined his character and relationships projected the image of an unfeeling and insensitive person who had insulated himself from his childhood against his emotional pain and a dysfunctional family. Born into a noble and famous Naples' family, he was taken from his family, at an early age moved to reside in Rome with his Cardinal-uncle, Oliviero Carafa who was responsible for the boy's education in the classics. He was a model student and authors describe his childhood as "blameless" with a melancholic hankering after "strict asceticism" in a religious Order where he might live his dream.
His uncle did not share his nephew's dream and was not about to let his hard work be wasted in some ascetical lifestyle so at eighteen, he introduced his nephew (1494) to the papal court of Alexander VI. What culture shock must Gian Pietro have experienced in that hotbed of Renaissance decadence so at odds with his own ascetic character! Perhaps it was his nephew's sense of horror and rejection of the papal court which motivated his uncle, Oliviero Carafa, to resign his See, Chieti, in 1505 in favour of his nephew and thereby launching his nephew's clerical career. Gian Pietro was ordained priest and bishop that year with his own Diocese, a gift from his uncle.
During the papacy of Julius II (1503-1513), the new Bishop of Theate again had his ascetical longings severely challenged by this "warrior pope" who was more frequently on the battlefield than the sanctuary but found time to father a daughter. There is not any record of Julius celebrating the Eucharist but there are many accounts of his military successes. By contrast Gian Pietro is described as "a model Bishop" who upon the death of Julius II was appointed by the new pope, Leo X, as the papal legate to Henry VIII of England (1513-1514) and from 1515-1520 as papal nuncio to Spain. These appointments were rungs on the ladder of Bishop Carafa's career and were scrupulously planned by his uncle, Oliviero. In 1518, Leo X appointed Carafa the Archbishop of Brindisi. Those years as nuncio to Spain fanned his hatred of the Spanish to obsessive levels and together with his intense hatred of the Habsburgs Emperors and heretics, were factors which would determine the political alliances and religious interaction of his papacy.
Leo X died in 1521 and his successor' Hadrian VI lived for less than two years and the career of Archbishop Carafa remained on hold. In November 1523, Giulio de' Medici was elected as Pope Clement VII. With the election of another de' Medici, Archbishop Carafa immediately reappears on the papal radar and appears to be pursuing his own longing to embrace the ascetical life.
Therefore in 1524, Carafa resigned his Archdiocese and petitioned Pope Clement VII to allow him to join Gaetaneo di Thiene (1480-1547) in founding an ascetical Order of the Clerks Regular or Theatines, "dedicated to strict poverty, restoring the apostolic way of life and reforming abuses within the Church". Following the sack of Rome (1527) by Charles V, Carafa, and his Order withdrew to Venice where he would remain until Paul III in 1536 invited him to return to Rome to oversee the cultural reform of the papal Court. His appointment signalled the end of the humanist papacy and a return to scholasticism and his patron, Thomas Aquinas.
Under popes Paul III and Julius III (1536-1553), Carafa was created Cardinal-Priest and subsequently, Cardinal-Bishop (1544). In 1553, he became dean of the College of Cardinals and served in that position until his election as pope in 1555 following the death of Marcellus II (Marcello Cervini). Ignatius Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) commented that "every bone in his body creaked when he heard of the election of Carafa". Paul IV immediately set aside the vision of Trent and plunged the Church into a papal agenda of reform which completely destroyed any possibility of Church healing and the capacity to address the real issues of pastoral concern.
Eric Erikson's psycho-social identity theory analysis provides a valuable window into the character of Paul IV and the factors which have dubbed him as the "most hated Pope in history". His "blameless" childhood with a longing for asceticism and his late teens spent in the papal Court are clearly, at odds with the normal pattern of human development during childhood and early adolescence. That the "blameless child" developed into "hated pope" would indicate the underlying personality issues for the pope whose dysfunctional childhood undermined the development of a real self to provide continuity of identity within the context of role diversification and changing historical circumstances ... Without a real self, there will always be conflict between personal identity and the existing culture so despite Paul's ascetical aspirations, he was and remained a renaissance pope providing for his own family (nepotism) from Church benefices.
More at home in the Office of the Inquisition than in the Petrine Office, Paul recalled Cardinal Pole from England and on the death of Mary I (1558) insisted that all Church properties confiscated under Henry VIII be returned. Vehemently opposed to Elizabeth I and her accession to the English throne, the pope considered her to be "illegitimate". He rejected the peace of Augsburg and imprisoned Cardinal Giovanni Morone (1509-1580) for heresy, because he had negotiated peace with the heretics at Augsburg. Paul's response to the Diet of Augsburg was to extend the powers of the Inquisition appointing the Dominican Cardinal, Michele Ghislieri, (later Pius V, 1566-1572) its Prefect. It was not uncommon for the pope himself to attend sessions of the Inquisition.
In February 1559 just months before his death in August, Paul IV issued an Apostolic Constitution, Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio with the expressed intention of preventing Cardinal Giovanni Morone becoming his successor and Bishop of Rome. Succinctly, the purpose of the Apostolic Exhortation is stated in the Exhortation's preface;
"We refer in particular to those who in this age, impelled by their sinfulness and supported by their cunning, are attacking with unusual learning and malice the discipline of the Orthodox Faith, and who, moreover, by perverting the import of Holy Scripture, are striving to rend the unity of the Catholic Church and the seamless tunic of the Lord."
Persecution of the Jews...
The Jews were targeted by Paul because he maintained that they had conspired with the Protestants to undermine the Church of Rome. Paul's paranoia and suspicions led him to implement a draconian regime against the Jewish people in Rome and the papal territories. Jews were confined to ghettos in Rome and forced to keep strict curfews. All Jews were required to wear distinctive dress which quite unjustly set them apart from the general population as scapegoats for public ridicule.
Paul ordered the bishops resident in Rome to pursue their careers (not unlike present day bishops) to return to their own dioceses and stay there. No doubt the bishops of the day took his command seriously because he was quite prepared to back up his orders with action and even imprisonment.
Paul IV and Carlo Carafa were feared and hated by the people of Rome so following Paul's death; the people expressed their delight, by raiding and firing the Office of the Inquisition. His statue was knocked to the ground and beheaded. It fell to his Successor, Pius IV to arrest the other members of the Carafa Family. Paul's nephew, Carlo, was charged with a range of crimes including murder and heresy and put before the Inquisition. Carlo was sentenced to death but because he was a Cardinal, Carlo could not be executed (strangled) by a Christian but a Muslim was employed to carry out the sentence.
Fr Daniel Donovan, submitted to Catholica 14 May 2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?
©2012 Fr Daniel Donovan