Friday, June 10, 2022

Music on My Mind


Noel Coward, "There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner".

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Mar 'Aphram Suryaya

 Today is the feast of St. Ephrem the Syrian, Deacon and Doctor of the Church. From the First Discourse to Hypatius:

For the Deity gave us Speech that is free like Itself, in order that free Speech might serve our independent Freewill. And by Speech, too, we are the likeness of the Giver of it, inasmuch as by means of it we have impulse and thought for good things; and not only for good things, but we learn also of God, the fountain of good things, by means of Speech (which is) a gift from Him. For by means of this (faculty) which is like God we are clothed with the likeness of God. For divine teaching is the seal of minds, by means of which men who learn are sealed that they may be an image for Him Who knows all. For if by Freewill Adam was the image of God, it is a most praiseworthy thing when, by true knowledge, and by true conduct, a man becomes the image of God. For that independence exists in these also. For animals cannot form in themselves pure thoughts about God, because they have not Speech, that which forms in us the image of the Truth. We have received the gift of Speech that we may not be as speechless animals in our conduct, but that we may in our actions resemble God, the giver of Speech. How great is Speech, a gift which came to make those who receive it like its Giver! And because animals have not Speech they cannot be the likeness of our minds. But because the mind has Speech, it is a great disgrace to it when it is not clothed with the likeness of God; it is a still more grievous shame when animals resemble men, and men do not resemble God. But threefold is the torture doubled when this intermediate (party between God and animals) forsakes the Good above him and degrades himself from his natural rank to put on the likeness of animals in his conduct.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Renaissance Popes: A Study in Reform (Index Post)

 I knew that reform was going to be a big theme going into the series, but as it went on it became clear that it was in a sense the only theme -- the entire Renaissance, whether conciliarist or papalist or Protestant, was obsessed with the idea. Thus I've subtitled the whole series, 'A Study in Reform'.

At some point in the series I got off-count with the number of popes, so I've corrected that here.


1. Martinus V (1417-1431)

2. Eugenius IV (1431-1447)

3. Nicholaus V (1447-1455)

4. Callixtus III (1455-1458)

5. Pius II (1458-1464)

6. Paulus II (1464-1471)

7. Sixtus IV (1471-1484)

8. Innocentius VIII (1484-1492)

9. Alexander VI (1492-1503)

10. Pius III (1503)

11. Iulius II (1503-1513)

12. Leo X (1513-1521) [Part I]

Leo X [Part II]

13. Hadrianus VI (1522-1523)

14. Clemens VII (1523-1534) [Part I]

Clemens VII [Part II]

15. Paulus III (1534-1549)

16. Iulius III (1550-1555)

17. Marcellus II (1555)

18. Paulus IV (1555-1559)

19. Pius IV (1559-1565)


Renaissance Popes: Conclusion

 The Renaissance is an Age of Reform. Church reform is a consistent theme in the career of every pope, every Holy Roman Emperor, every French or English king. In order to understand the Renaissance papacy better, both in its strengths and in its weaknesses, it is useful to think a bit more abstractly about reform. I think this is often not done today, even by people who talk about reform, and it shows. I think as well that it can be shown that many of the corruptions that today are associated with the Renaissance papacy were byproducts of attempts at reform. Reform is easy to talk about. But reform done badly, or misconceived, or improperly supported, often breeds its own corruptions.

Reform is practical, and therefore has to be understood in terms of ends and means. In particular, reform consists of capabilities exercised in means to achieve remedial ends. Not every such exercise of capabilities is reform; admonition, rebuke, and mitigation, for instance, are all remedies to a problem, but considered on their own fall short of reform. Reform requires that the remedial end be actual correction of the problem. If you haven't corrected the problem, you haven't completed the reform.

If reform is a particular kind of exercise of capabilities in means for remedial ends, there are certain things that always need to be considered, with respect to all three elements here, end, means, capability. Since the end always defines the action, we start with the end.

First, the end must be appropriate to its context (which, in cases of reform tends to be a specific set of problems as it intersects with a specific set of cultural and material resources).

Second, the means must be proportionate to the end. That is to say, the means need to be something that can actually achieve the end.

Third, the means themselves must be appropriate to their context.

Fourth, the means must be feasible given one's actual capabilities.

Fifth, the capabilities that are exercised must be appropriate to their context.

Things often go wrong when there is failure in any of these matters. For instance, the end must be appropriate to its context. This means, among other things, that it must be something that can genuinely be a reforming end in context. One way in which people violate this is that they take something that was once a subordinate end -- that is, an end that is an end because it is also a means to a higher end -- and they give it a sort of zombie longevity, in which they keep aiming at this end even when its time has passed. The Renaissance suffered from a general bedazzlement with the idea of a general council directly and immediately reforming the Church "in root and branch" or "in head and members". But a general council is a Church instrument (more specifically, it is the Church using itself as a society to address problems); it can be an end, but it is not an end in its own right. But people especially in the early part of the Renaissance kept insisting on calling general councils even when it was clear that they had no definite idea of what problems they would be used to solve. People insisted on it without regard for whether it was appropriate. Vast sums of money were wasted on attempts to call general councils (often unsuccessfully) for things that would obviously have been better handled in other ways.

A major form of problem is also found in other agendas, that is, some end that is not remedial but is in fact governing the choices made. The Christian powers throughout the Renaissance keep talking about reform, but when you look at their actions, their decisions, and often their explicit reasoning, it is clear that the end governing much of their policy with regard to church reform is to redirect funds from the Church (especially the papacy) to themselves. Now, there is no sense whatsoever in which 'church reform' can be stretched so far as to mean 'redirecting money away from ecclesial ministries to Christian kings fighting wars against other Christian kings'. Yet over and over this is what happens, and the reason it happens so consistently is that this was one of the goals. The Christian kingdoms of Europe systematically stripped the Church in order to increase their revenues. When Protestant Sweden or Protestant England literally seized and sold off their monasteries to expand their treasuries, they were engaged in only an extreme form of what the Catholic kingdoms (including themselves) had long been doing already. When Catholic, princes had to be more indirect about it, but they did the same where they could. And this end, which is not a remedial end at all, is often dictating the 'reforms'. Why did the Christian princes keep insisting on general councils? There were several reasons, but one very central one was that the Council of Constance accidentally taught them that they could use a general council to redirect funds from the Church to themselves under the label of 'reform'.

Likewise, the means must be proportionate to the end. One of the continual problems of the Renaissance is that people keep trying to make means work even if they repeatedly fail. The defense of Christendom against the Turks is an excellent example. Over and over again, people try to use the method of crusade. The very most competent organizers among the popes are just barely able to pull something together for a very short while, and yet again and again, the lesson was not learned. (What actually defended Renaissance Christendom from the Ottoman Turks was the Muslim Safavid Empire to the east of the Ottoman Empire, a relatively organized state whose border with the Ottoman Empire was long, was highly contested, and involved no major geographical features that could prevent large armies from invading. It's not that Europe wasn't a high priority for the Ottomans, but Europe was a minor threat, while the Safavids were a major one. And later, what actually blocked Ottoman advance into Europe was not crusade but holy league, the ad hoc, mostly defensive organization that had been adapted to good effect by Alexander VI and refined by Julius II.) What's most remarkable is that crusades had only rarely achieved their goals for centuries. If you wanted to defend Europe against the Ottomans, relying on crusades was not a reasonable means, but it's the one that they kept trying to repeat.

The means must be appropriate to their context. Despite their many failures, the Renaissance popes were mostly men who were very good at this. Even so, we see occasional failures on this point. Adrian VI, for instance, attempted to weed out corruption by removing, left and right, the worldly cardinals that he held lived too luxuriously. You could very well imagine that this would in some contexts have been an excellent to do. What actually happened was that all curial business suddenly collapsed to a crawl. Yes, some of the cardinals under Leo X had grown very worldly. That did not mean that they weren't doing anything important, or that they were doing it incompetently. The Renaissance in fact is unusual in that popes and cardinals tended to be extraordinarily competent people. The cutthroat of Renaissance politics meant in general that if you got that far, you were extremely good at something important. Most bishops in history have been relatively mediocre -- not especially talented, not especially good at organizing, not especially good with money.  But there are periods where this is not the case, and the Renaissance is one of them. The curial officials Adrian inherited may sometimes not have been very good at living devout lives, but they were very good at doing their jobs, and when he got rid of them all of a sudden, nothing worked properly.

The means must also be feasible given our capabilities. I think of all the requirements, this is the one we ourselves perhaps struggle most with. For this series I read a lot of commentary, both scholarly and unscholarly, about the Renaissance papacy, and one of the most common things I found was people criticizing the Renaissance popes for not doing something that, if they had done it, would obviously have been disastrous. I think there is a common view that the way you handle (say) hoarding of benefices is by just stopping people from doing it. But corruptions arise from conditions. The reason why there were so many corruptions with regard to benefices and sell of offices is because the demands of reform and society meant that none of the cardinals ever had enough money to do all the things that they were supposed to be doing. So, naturally, like every human being, they looked for ways to have enough money. The result is what these things were locked in; you could not stop them without shifting the incentives that guaranteed that they would always be arising.

In the Renaissance, the big issue with feasibility was almost always money. This is something that they appreciated very well (perhaps at times to the detriment of appreciating other things) and that for some reason we understand very poorly. The Renaissance popes all have really fancy things. They collect statues, paintings, jewels, fine clothes, and so forth. And over and over you find them criticized for it. In so many cases, I felt like someone needed to sit the critics down and have a little dialogue with them:


ME: OK, so imagine that we have a time machine and you jump back in time and convince the popes to sell off all the art and get rid of Pius II's gemstone collection, and so forth. What then?

CRITIC: What do you mean?

ME: Well, obviously you can't just have piles of money lying around. It's Renaissance Italy; if you have piles of money, it will be get stolen by bandits or something. And you can't give it to a bank, because the bank has a similar problem.

CRITIC: Of course, the point is not to have piles of money but to give it away to the poor.

ME: Ah, noble goal. And then?

CRITIC: What do you mean?

ME: What happens when you have a major expense?

CRITIC: What do you mean?

ME: Exactly what I said. You need a large sum of money. Maybe you need to travel somewhere distant, or hire extra soldiers or guards, or pay a ransom. Or maybe you are hit with plague or famine or invaders and suddenly there are large numbers of people in need. You don't have piles of money lying around, so you have to get it from somewhere.

CRITIC: I guess you'd have to borrow it.

ME: Yes, you'd have to take out a loan, which needs collateral, or, if it were a really serious emergency, you'd have to pawn something, which requires collateral. So, tell me, what would work? It needs to be something easy to transport, something that people tend to want, something that can be used as collateral for very large sums. Do you know of anything that is small, in high demand, and very expensive? It would be useful to have something like that.


It's by no means necessary to deny that all these luxuries were capable of having a corrupting influence. But that doesn't imply that simply eliminating them was a genuine option in the Renaissance, when popes constantly had to take out loans for major expenses and pawn things for emergency expenses. I suspect people have an aversion to thinking that they themselves could be in danger of being corrupted by what they literally find unavoidable, but in reality corruptions often arise because of the things we cannot avoid. They are often rigged-up solutions for dealing with problems that are otherwise usually insurmountable.That is why reform is often so difficult. Renaissance nepotism arose because the demands made on popes repeatedly exceeded the resources that were offered to them, so starting at the beginning with Martin V, they had to fall back on family, and once they dipped into that well, they couldn't stop as long as the incentive structure stayed the same. (The Tridentine papacy's attempt to stamp out nepotism would become almost comical as pope after pope tries to eliminate nepotism and in papacy after papacy has to appoint family members to important positions to get essential things done. Maybe the Renaissance popes should have worked harder to solve the problem, but when after Trent we get a whole string of popes who do try very hard, we discover that it was not as easy as one might have thought.)

The capabilities that are exercised must also be appropriate to their context. A good example of failure on this point is the repeated tendency of the Christian princes, in the name of reform, to try to do things that they did not have the authority to do. It was obviously inappropriate for France and the Empire to wreak havoc with so many papal conclaves in an attempt to get a pope who would do what they wanted; and yet again and again they tried, sometimes to extremely detrimental results for everyone.

All of this is very negative, so it's worth looking at a clear Renaissance success. Nicholas V establishes a project of evangelizing and inspiring devotion by means of books and buildings. Except perhaps for Adrian VI and Paul IV, all of the Renaissance popes after him were on board with this. There are obvious limits to books-and-buildings evangelism, but I think history has clearly shown since that they were right, and that this was a genuine way to evangelize and inspire Christian devotion -- and that is undeniably a reasonable end for church reform, pursued by an effective means. Not only did they have the capability for it, the Renaissance had an unusually great capability for it; things were feasible for them in matters of architecture and related fields, that would probably not be possible for us. They had the enthusiasm, the well-funded systems of artists' workshops, the artist in constant interaction and competition with each other, the continual discovery of new methods and techniques that they were eager to try out, the humanist vision that, inspiring in itself, could awe when translated to stone and paint, the brilliant minds funneled to the right places and given the means to work on their craft for decades and decades in the most extraordinary circumstances. And the capabilities were being fueled by everything in their society, so everything they did on this basis integrated with all sorts of other things in their society. If you were to propose building big, beautiful church buildings and nice palaces for ecclesiastical use today, people would reject this out of hand; we know this because, the 'big, beautiful church buildings' people are around, and they are constantly mocked by other devout Christians on social media. Perhaps that's right; we certainly don't have Renaissance capabilities in this area, and our capabilities arguably lie in a very different direction. But for Renaissance reformers, it was church reform, and they did it as church reform, and, excelling on every single point -- capabilities, means, and end -- it was a reform that has been unbelievably successful, and continues to be successful. Whatever our own capabilities, we have not done anything that can compete with its success.

It is worth keeping in mind, also, that we are not so clever as we think. When you look at the Renaissance papacy, the customs and culture may be somewhat different, but the mistakes are recognizable, because we continue to make similar ones -- confusing means and ends, advocating ends while simultaneously eliminating the available means for it, not developing the appropriate capabilities for what we intend to do, mismatching means and end in such a way that we end up creating incentives for corruption in the name of reform. We do it all. It is very difficult to argue, though, that we manage to be as impressive in making such mistakes as the Renaissance popes were.


Obviously I am not a historian of the Renaissance. The following historical works I found to be especially helpful (although I often disagree with the  evaluations of the authors):

Ludwig von Pastor, The History of the Popes, Volumes I to XVI, various publishers, 1899-1951. This is still the best way to get the overall view, and I've largely followed him with occasional supplementation or adaptation. The entire forty-volume set is available on Internet Archive; Wikipedia helpfully has the links.

John W. O'Malley, Trent: What Happened at the Council, Belknap Press (Cambridge, MA: 2013).

Christine Shaw, Julius II: The Warrior Pope, Blackwell (Cambridge, MA: 1996).

Monday, June 06, 2022

Renaissance Popes XVII: Pius IV

 Birth Name: Giovanni Angelo Medici

Lived: 1499-1565

Regnal Name: Pius IV

Regnal Life: 1559-1565

Giovanni Angelo Medici was born on Easter Sunday, 1499, in Milan to a rather poor but respectable family. Despite the name, they were not Medici in the sense that we normally mean by 'Medici' in the context of the Renaissance. While the Medici of Milan tended to assume that they were related to the Medici of Florence and so used a similar coat of arms, there is no actual evidence of this. Thus, for instance, Giovanni's oldest brother, Gian Giacomo Medici, who became a famous condottiere, was known by the nickname Il Medeghino, the Little Medici, to distinguish him from the more famous Medici. Giovanni himself was a bright young man and went on to study law at the University of Bologna. He entered the Roman Curia in the papacy of Paul III, who entrusted him with ever-increasing responsibilities in the Papal States and made him a cardinal in 1549. As a cardinal, he got considerable experience on diplomatic missions. All of this practical background would come in handy in his papal career, because he inherited a papacy in considerable disarray but also saw the conclusion of the Council of Trent and thus become the first pope to start figuring out the best ways to implement the conciliar reforms.

Paul IV died on August 18, 1559.  Rome had burst into riot as soon as it became clear that he was dying, due to the harshness of his reforms; soldiers had to be brought in and for a while Rome was effectively under something like martial law. The cardinals in the conclave had immediately to decide what to do about Cardinal Morone, who was still in prison. Since, despite having been there for years, he hadn't ever been convicted of anything and, for that matter, hadn't even been formally charged with anything specific, they let him out of prison to participate in the conclave.

The fundamental problem faced by the 1559 conclave was that there were too many possible candidates. Each of the three major factions, the French, the Spanish, and the Italian, had several possible candidates, and had difficulty making up their minds about which ones they wanted to put forward. The Spanish also ended up complicating the situation by trying to get one of their early favorites, Cardinal Carpi, elected by acclamation before all of the French cardinals had arrived. They fell short of the votes required, and their attempt made the French even less likely to compromise with them. In all future voting, there would be the recurring problem of the vote being split so many ways that no candidate could reach the threshold for becoming pope. Then the secular princes kept interfering; the French and the Empire were in constant contact with their factions and also kept messing with the vote by trying to make deals with members of the Italian faction. As vote after vote after vote was hung, all the factions started proposing compromise candidates, but the same problem arose: no compromise candidate could get enough votes, given all the competing compromise candidates. As months dragged by, the conclave began to experience attrition as one cardinal died and several others became sick in ways that prevented their participation. This almost broke the deadlock on its own; the French were hardest hit by illness, so the Spanish just narrowly missed making Cardinal Pacheco pope in early December. Even this, however, was not enough. As Christmas drew near, the cardinals began to think that they were handling the matter in the wrong way. The leaders of the factions met to try to come up with one name that they could at least all tolerate. One of the names that came up was Cardinal Medici, and he was elected on Christmas Day, taking the name Pius IV, and crowned on Epiphany. 

Pius, despite his age, was a very energetic man, which is fortunate, because an energetic man was necessary. He had to begin immediately repairing diplomatic relations with the major powers, which had deteriorated in Paul's reign. There was a very long list of things that needed to be done with regard to reform. Pius set up a commission of cardinals for reform of morals in the clergy. He opened an inquiry into the situation of Cardinal Morone, which formally concluded that the entire process had been based on inadequate evidence and had been improperly conducted. He stripped the Roman Inquisition of all the additional kinds of cases that Paul had piled on it, which had gravely overloaded it, and restored it to its proper bounds. Nonetheless, in dealing with Paul's immoderate and sometimes disastrous reforms, Pius always preferred, if he could, to maintain a more restricted version of Paul's reforms than to undo them entirely. For instance, he kept Paul's Index, which had been greeted with derision and shock throughout the Church, but reworked it on much more limited principles, taking into account many of the criticisms. In another instance, Pius had the problem of what to do with all the vagrant monks that Paul had arrested for living outside their monasteries. There were literally hundreds, and Paul's attempt to apply a strict enforcement was clearly unworkable. Many monks were in situations where it was not practicable for them to go immediately back into their monasteries, and there were too many to keep jailed. Even monks who were willing to comply were often not able to do so under Paul's very strict interpretation, and they had nowhere to go if anything prevented an immediate return to the monastery, because Paul had made it illegal for anyone to provide shelter to them. Pius, quickly assessing the situation, settled on the solution that was likely the best one: he gave a blanket amnesty for all past irregularities and set up a process for case-by-case assessment of unusual situations. 

There were other ways in which Pius had to clean up the mess in which Paul's administration had left things. He had to figure out what to do with all of the rioters who had been arrested for rioting as Paul died; in May 1560, he declared a blanket amnesty for them as well, which was very popular. And he opened an investigation into the Carafa family; evidence of along series of crimes, including murder, was uncovered. They were put on trial; Alfonso Carafa was pardoned because of his youth, but the other two were (despite some cardinals advocating clemency) executed -- Carlo Carafa was strangled and Giovanni Carafa was beheaded. The cardinals were not happy at the execution of a fellow cardinal, and Pius took considerable criticism over it, but the pope justified himself on the ground that not only were the crimes involved quite serious, it was absolutely essential not to set a precedent of cardinal-nephews being able to get away with anything. Another major confidant of Pope Paul, Scipione Cardinal Rebiba, was arrested on the accusation of having repeatedly been negligent in his duties; he was eventually set free on the request of almost the whole College of Cardinals.

Pius also restored an aspect of the Renaissance reforms that Paul had largely left in ruins, namely, the books-and-buildings-and-music approach to evangelism. This seems to have been important to him -- Ludwig von Pastor suggests that it was because he wanted to prove himself a true Medici. Pius actively supported Palestrina and the polyphonic style. He supported the Accademia Vaticana that was organized by Carlo Borromeo, expanded the Vatican Library, gave patronage to scholarship of all kinds. He poured money into architecture and art, supporting Vasari and Michelangelo and others, particular with projects that also had practical use, like fortifications or city improvements. Michelangelo particularly benefited; Paul had stripped him of his pensions, but Pius restored them and actively continued to support Michelangelo until the aging artist's death. None of this was easy -- papal revenue was not what it had been (and a large portion of it went in any case to paying off debts contracted by Paul), and some of Paul's reforms had tightened it further by reducing possible sources of revenue -- and there were plenty of artists who still complained about the slim pickings. All in all, however, much was accomplished, and Pius managed to leave the papal finances in a much better state than he had received it, although he did so by raising taxes (which made him unpopular throughout the States of the Church) and selling offices.

Pius had a very large family, and continued the practice of distributing honors among them. However, the practice was ameliorated by the sheer numbers -- he had so many family members, that he had to be quite selective and limited about what he handed. There was very little danger of most of them exercising an outsized influence. The two exceptions, who were especially favored by Pius, were well chosen, because they were both talented men: his nephews from the Borromeo family. Carlo Borromeo, whom he made cardinal and Apostolic Protonotary, was especially competent. He was also quite a decent man, but in 1562, the other Borromeo nephew, Federigo, died suddenly, and Carlo was devastated by the loss. It led to him changing his life; he received holy orders in 1563 and began living much more strictly and ascetically -- indeed, enough that Pope Pius was concerned that he was being excessive. However, all of these things would contribute to St. Carlo Borromeo becoming one of the primary architects of the new, post-Renaissance reforms.

The question of the reform council, which was one of Pius's fundamental resolutions, was tangled. Many people wanted the Council of Trent continued; others thought that, as it had been so long delayed, it would make more sense to open a new council. The French wanted the decrees so far passed to be recognized and formally implemented; the Empire and the Protestants wanted everything so far to be scrapped and everything to begin again. Of course, there was the perpetual problem that France and the Empire could be guaranteed not to agree on the time and place. The French were also causing trouble; they had in the past repeatedly threatened to convoke their own national council, and now they were already making plans to do it. Pius, once informed of this, realized that there would be no end of trouble if the Gallican bishops succeeded, and resolved to make the general council happen no matter what, in order to forestall a Gallican council. Finally, after endless negotiation, Pius published a bull of convocation on November 29, 1560. The council was to take place at Trent, but, despite the fact that he clearly considered it a continuation, he deliberately avoided taking an explicit position of whether it was formally a continuation or a new council. Pius attempted to get everyone on board over it, but most of the Catholics were mostly vague in their commitments and all of the Protestant cities in the Empire refused to accept it. It was not clear whether the council would actually get off the ground again.

Pius, however, immediately began turning to the question of organizing it. He had some difficulty in getting a papal legate, particularly since he wanted several to represent a wide variety of the Church; he offered the position to Cardinal Morone, but Morone declined. Cardinal Gonzaga tried to decline as well, but the pope was able to convince him, and soon the legates were chosen: Gonzaga, Puteo, Seripando, Hosius, Simonetta. Gonzaga was primarily a diplomat, Simonetta and Puteo were canon lawyers, and Hosius and Seripando were theologians; Hosius had a reputation as a conservative and strict reformer, Seripando as more liberal and willing to compromise.

The third phase of the Council of Trent opened on January 18, 1562, and, despite the fact that there had been every reason to expect that it would be poorly attended, over a hundred bishops were already in Trent when it opened. There was a crisis almost immediately. The Spanish wanted it formally declared a continuation; the legates were under instructions to avoid doing this. Finally, the Spanish were willing to back down, once the legates made clear that they would avoid any indication that it was not a continuation, and that it if it were feasible there would be an official declaration of continuation in a later session. The reason the continuation-or-not was such an important one was that the decrees of the prior phases were in an ambiguous territory as to how authoritative they were, because while often implemented, the popes had not yet formally recognized them as decrees of a general council, for the simple reason that the council business had not yet finished; if, however, the newly convoked council was a continuation of the prior council, the prior decrees would be given the same formal stamp as the new decrees when the council officially closed.

Pius's plan was to tie up all the loose ends with a few doctrinal decrees, but he ran into the problem that the Christian princes (and therefore their representative bishops) wanted practical reforms. One point of reform was particularly thorny, namely, the question of how best to proceed with the requirement that each bishop reside in his diocese; the bishops were heavily divided on the basis for such a requirement, and therefore could not come to an agreement about how it should be handled. What is more, a significant number of bishops were inclined to refuse to consider any other reforms or doctrinal matters before the residence reforms had been completed, which threatened to bring the council to a complete standstill. Extensive negotiations were required to get the easier decree on communion handled first. This ended up being wise, because the decrees on holy orders and residence took several months of argument, and the council was nearly suspended in the process when disease killed Gonzaga, Seripando, and others. Pius, however, came to believe it would be a severe mistake to suspend the council rather than carry it through to completion, and so he replaced Gonzaga and Seripando with Morone and Navagero. Both were major Church diplomats, and Morone had been working with Borromeo to help organize the council from the pope's end, so he was second only to Borromeo in understanding the pope's intentions. Choosing Morone was a stroke of brilliance; due to his prior career, he had an excellent relationship with the Emperor Ferdinand, and he was able to convince the Empire, whose support up to this point had been lukewarm and suspicious, to back the pope somewhat more fully, despite the slow progress and the Emperor's belief that the pope was meddling too much in it. Morone was also able slowly to navigate the assembled bishops through the questions of holy orders and residence, carefully setting aside any issue (like papal supremacy) on which the bishops could not come to a definite agreed formulation; this he did under instructions from Pius, who held that it was generally better to have no decree at all than a half-decree that caused only confusion. 

As the council slowly began to pick up pace, Pius was able, through his legates, to insist that the council must also consider reform of the Christian princes and the laity. Unsurprisingly, the Catholic powers protested this vehemently. But it was a crucial issue. Since the Council of Constance, the Christian powers had actively meddled with reform, and they had done so for a very clear reason: revenue. The princes had been so insistent on reform the whole time, in fact, because they saw it as a way to redirect revenue that was going to the Church to their own coffers. Now, to be sure, they also had genuine concerns elsewhere. But when you look at the corruptions and problems faced by the Renaissance Church, it is remarkable how many of them were due in great measure, and sometimes wholly, to the meddling of the princes. The Christian princes had been obsessed with ecclesial reform through the entire Renaissance; but they never meant reform of themselves. Because of the opposition, the reform of princes that was proposed by the legates was eventually very mild, but even that was not acceptable to the Emperor and to the French king. The French went so far as to declare that the council had not authority to reform the state. Nonetheless the bishops were broadly in support of it. Nobody knew better than they how hampered they had often been due to civil interference. So Pius did some horse-trading; Ferdinand's son Maximilian had been elected King of the Romans, and Pius offered to recognize the election if Ferdinand would back down enough to let the council finish its work. The council produced doctrinal and reform decrees on matrimony, and then another decree on matters relating to ecclesiastical governance, including mild and restricted versions of the proposed limitations on civil interference. While there were a few people who wished to prolong the council, pointing to the many things that had still not been discussed, there was a general feeling that the end was in sight. And it was; the council had one more session hurriedly and briefly dealing with miscellaneous subjects in both doctrine and reform, and closed. Many things were left on the table, either only partially dealt with or not dealt with at all. But the Council of Trent, in all three phases, was confirmed, and this is a reasonable place to mark the end of the Renaissance period of the Church and the beginning of its Tridentine period, although the transition from one period to another is always a bit blurred and fuzzy.

Both the variety of reforms and the fact that many reforms were only partly done meant that Pius IV and his immediate successors would have an immense importance in implementing it. Many of the things that are associated with the Tridentine or Counter-Reformation period of the Church were not directly due to Trent, but were really the particular ways in which the popes, and bishops like Borromeo under whom the see of Milan became the widely copied standard model of a Catholic diocese for the next several hundred years, decided to implement the rather flexible reform decrees.  But this is as it should be; the problem the Renaissance reform councils had always had was that events moved much too swiftly for them to micromanage. By establishing a more flexible framework and allowing the popes and bishops to fill in the details to meet the challenges they found in implementation, Trent succeeded as a reform council in a way that none of the others had. In many ways, Constance and Basel had been outright failures, with Constance's primary achievement (the solution to the Western Schism) really being due to the pope rather than anything it had done. As the Council of Florence, the Council of Basel had been turned by Eugene IV into a successful union council, but as a reform council in itself, Basel was a complete disaster and created another schism. The Fifth Council of Lateran was more successful, but it was an anemic success because it could not provide anything that was adequate to the swiftly changing landscape of its time. Only the Council of Trent, which during its entire duration had seemed likely to fail, succeeded. It did not succeed at everything, because it could not cover everything. But it laid down principles and guidelines that could be effectively used in a wide variety of situations and (a not unimportant point) often working out how to pay for and organize the implementation, and for the next several generations 'church reform' no longer meant what it had through most of the Renaissance but instead meant 'implementing the council'. The popes filled in the details -- summarizing council doctrine in the Tridentine Creed (which Pius did shortly after the end of the council), reforming the Index, creating the catechism, regularizing the missal and the breviary, establishing regular seminaries on Tridentine principles. 

Despite his apparently inexhaustible energy, Pius IV was getting on in years, and suffered occasional health problems. He was particularly susceptible to attacks of gout, which came with increasing frequency, and in early December of 1565 was sick more often than not. He died December 9. He had been very much a Renaissance pope in many ways, but he oversaw the transition to something new, laying the foundations on which his successor, St. Pius V, and his nephew, St. Charles Borromeo, would stabilize the new approach to reform. Pius V would very much not be a Renaissance pope but a Tridentine one; and he was in many ways what Paul IV hoped to be but failed to be, severe and not temperamentally inclined to moderation in reform, and some of what he did would have to be moderated by his successor, Gregory XIII. But the tenure of Pius IV had established something very important, which was that moderate reforms often worked better than stringent ones, and for the next several generations even severe popes like Pius V would at least make an effort to incorporate leniency and balance into their implementations.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Links of Note

 * John Danaher, Darwin's Logical Argument for Natural Selection, at "Philosophical Disquisitions"

* Samuel Reis-Dennis and Abram Brummett, Are conscientious objectors morally obligated to refer? (PDF)

* Raff Donelson, Natural Punishment (PDF)

* Eric Wiland and Julia Driver, Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe, at the SEP

* Stephen T. Asma, Imaginology, at

* Also at Aeon, Philip Freeman, Aristotle Goes to Hollywood.

* Charles Goldhaber, Hume's Real Riches (PDF), discusses Hume on cheerfulness.

* Neri Marsili, Towards a Unified Theory of Illocutionary Normativity (PDF)

* Stephane Serafin, Kerry Sun, & Xavier Fouccroulle Menard, Notwithstanding Judicial Specification: The Notwithstanding Clause within a Juridical Order (PDF)

* Jeffrey Whittaker, The Many Traditions of Tolkien

* Yuan Yi Zhu, The Mystical Power of the Monarchy, reflects on Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee.

* Andrew Stephenson, Existence and Modality in Kant: Lessons from Barcan (PDF)

* Katherine Cassesse interviews Zena Hitz at the APA Blog.

* As many as fifty people may be dead in a terrorist attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Nigeria.