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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Giovanni Pietro Caraffa and Gaetano da Thiene


monastic revival affected the commonalty; another spoke to the educated classes. As early as 1504 an attempt had been made to reorganise the great Benedictine order, and a number of Benedictine abbeys had united to form a Congregation, which soon after its institution took the name of the Benedictine Mother-Cloister, Monte Cassino. Gregorio Cortese, one of the members of the _Oratory of Divine Love_, entered into the movement, and as Abbot of the Benedictine convent on the Island of Lerina on the Riviera, and afterwards in the convent of San Giorgio Maggiore at Venice, led his monks to show that their convents were the centres of learning dedicated to the service of the Church. He interested himself more especially in historical studies with a view of maintaining the historic traditions of the Church, which were beginning to be shaken by historical criticism, then in its infancy.

The improvement of the secular clergy was more important for the Church in Italy than any reforms of the monastic orders. An attempt to do this was begun by two members of the _Oratory of Divine Love_, Giovanni Pietro Caraffa and Gaetano da Thiene. Their idea was that in every diocese there ought to be a small band of men doing the work of secular clergy but bound by monastic vows. Their idea was taken from Augustine's practice of living monastically with some of his clergy; and fulfilled itself in the order of the Theatines. The name was derived from Theate (Chieti),

the small See of which Caraffa was Bishop. These picked clergy were to be to the Bishop what his staff is to a general. The Theatines were not to be numerous, still less to include the whole secular clergy of a diocese; but they were to incite by precept, and above all by example, to a truly clerical life. The idea spread, and similar associations arose all over Italy.[658]

Such were the preparations in Italy for the Counter-Reformation. There was no prospect of any attempt to set the Church in order while Pope Clement VII. lived. He exhausted all his energies in preventing the summoning of a General Council--a measure on which Charles V. was growing more and more set as the only means of ending the religious dispute in Germany.

The accession of Paul III. (1534) seemed to inaugurate a new era full of hopes for the advocates of reform at the centre of the Roman Church. The new Pope made Gasparo Contarini, Caraffa, Sadoleto, and Pole Cardinals. A Bull, which remained unpublished, was read in the Consistory (January 1536), sketching the possibility of reforming the Curia. The Pope appointed a commission of nine members to report upon the needful reforms, and the commission was everywhere regarded as a sort of preliminary Council, a body of men who were appointed to investigate and tabulate a programme of necessary reforms to be laid before a General Council. The Commissioners were Contarini, Caraffa, Ghiberti, Sadoleto, Pole, Fregoso, all of whom had been members of the _Oratory of Divine Love_, Aleander who had been Nuncio at the Diet of Worms, and Tomaso Badia, Master of the Sacred Palace. They met and drafted a report which was presented to the Pope in 1537, and is known as the _Consilium delectorum

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