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

Cervini represented the growing section of the Church


Papal Legates entered Trent in state on the 13th of March (1545). Heavy showers of rain marred the impressive display. They were received by the local clergy with enthusiasm, and by the populace with an absolute indifference. Months passed before the Council was opened. Few delegates were present when the papal Legates arrived. The representatives of the Emperor and those of Venice came early; Bishops arrived in straggling groups during April and May and the months that followed. The necessary papal Brief did not reach the town till the 11th of December, and the Council was formally opened on the 13th. The long leisurely opening was symptomatic of the history of the Council. Its proceedings were spread over a period of eighteen years:--under Pope Paul III., 1545-47, including Sessions i. to x.; under Pope Julius III., 1551-52, including Sessions xi. to xvi.; under Pope Pius IV., 1562-1563, including Sessions xvii. to xxv.[698]

The Papal Legates were Gian Maria Giocchi, Cardinal del Monte, a Tuscan who had early entered the service of the Roman Curia, a profound jurist and a choleric man of fifty-seven (_first_ President); Marcello Cervini, Cardinal da Santa Croce; and Cardinal Reginald Pole, the Englishman. The three represented the three tendencies which were apparent in ecclesiastical Italy. The first belonged to the party which stood by the old unreformed Curia, and wished no change. Cervini represented the growing section of the Church, which

regarded Cardinal Caraffa as their leader. They sought eagerly and earnestly a reform in life and character, especially among the clergy; but refused to make any concessions in doctrines, ceremonies, or institutions to the Protestants. They differed from the more reforming Spanish and French ecclesiastical leaders in their dislike of secular interference, and believed that the Popes should have more rather than less power. Reginald Pole was one of those liberal Roman Catholics of whom Cardinal Contarini was the distinguished leader. He was made a Legate probably to conciliate his associates. He was a man whom most people liked and nobody feared--a harmless, pliant tool in the hands of a diplomatist like Cervini. The new Society of Jesus was represented by Lainez and Salmeron, who went to the Council with the dignity of papal theologians--a title which gave them a special standing and influence.

According to the arrangement come to between the Emperor and the Pope, the Bull summoning the Council declared that it was called for the three purposes of overcoming the religious schism; of reforming the Church; and of calling a united Christendom to a crusade against unbelievers. By general consent the work of the Council was limited to the first two objects. They were stated in terms vague enough to cover real diversity of opinion about the work the Council was expected to do.

Almost all believed that the questions of reforming the Church and dealing with the religious revolt were inseparably connected; but the differences at once emerged when the method of treating the schism was discussed.

Many pious Roman Catholics believed that the Lutheran movement was a divine punishment for the sins of the Church, and that it would disappear if the Church was thoroughly reformed in life and morals. They differed about the agency to be employed to effect the reformation. The Italian party, who followed Cardinal Caraffa, maintained that full powers should be in the hands of the Pope; non-Italians, especially the Spaniards, thought it vain to look for any such reformation so long as the Curia, itself the seat of the greatest corruption, remained unreformed, and contended that the secular authority ought to be allowed more power to put down ecclesiastical scandals.

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