Writings by Dr. John C. Rao

Truth, Custom, Trent, Baroque Culture, and Spain

Verbo (Madrid, LIX, 597-598, agosto-septiembre-octubre, 2021)

“Christ said ‘I am the Truth’. He did not say, ‘I am custom’.”


I. The Baroque Spirit and the Fullness of the Catholic Tradition

My personal awakening to the full meaning of Catholic Christendom came in the summer of 1973 on my first trip to Rome. Trapped one particularly sultry afternoon in a welter of medieval streets, and eager to locate some cover from the sun and source of liquid refreshment, I was rapidly losing all my interest in tourism. As narrow lanes led to tinier passageways that appeared to be nothing more than escape-tunnel size cracks between the walls of citadel-like palaces, my frustration became ever more intolerable. Finally, when all hope seemed lost, there I was---luxuriating in a magnificent Baroque piazza, equipped with refreshing fountains, watering holes, and stunning architecture, sculpture, and painting, both religious and secular.

What soon dawned on me---and what was then confirmed and sharpened by my reading---was that the architects who had conceived that piazza---which lifted up the spirit while nevertheless offering all that the body could wish---were conscious of the intricate connection of both the basic “stuff” as well as the overall plan of human existence. Their implicit call to discover “more than meets the eye” in the highly diverse, changing, and often very petty components of daily existence---a call reflected throughout the Baroque achievement---drove home the teaching that one could only interpret the particular and often quite quirky components of earthly life properly by looking at them through the eyes of God. If one ignored the jumble of the human condition, in all of its complexity, good and bad, reality was lost; if one discounted the plan behind it, the drama of existence was obscured by what could be taken for a display of nothing more than pathetic meaninglessness.

All this considered, I would argue that the “Baroque” sense of the acceptance of the complexity and difficulties of disciplining the “stuff” of reality as essential parts in the divine plan is not something unique in the history of Christendom, but, rather, a brilliant, particular, historically bound revival and further development of what lies at the very heart of the Catholic Tradition in general. For the implications of this supposedly purely “Baroque” vision---one of conscious use of each and every one of the building blocks of nature, stubbornly marred by sin, to build a stairway to heaven, to achieve the “transformation of all things in Christ”---were being discussed and acted upon with ever greater refinements throughout the history of Christendom from its very outset.

A splendid western Christian contribution to this universal Catholic enterprise took place in the centuries beginning with the monastic reforms promoted by centers like Cluny in Burgundy from the tenth century onwards. At that time, all of the tools of mind and heart jointly needed to understand God’s message, and then bring to fruition the task of transformation in Christ, found powerful intellectual and spiritual supporters, while varied pastoral approaches for imbedding the Truth in the population at large also flourished. Popes like Innocent III brilliantly summarized the thrust of the entire project, vigorously emphasizing as he did the need to nuance pastoral work according to the unique problems of specific individuals and groups, those of the most unlikely candidates for sainthood included.1

Unfortunately, problems that became especially apparent from the thirteenth century onwards interrupted this development of the Catholic Tradition, not just stalling its further unfolding but also placing weighty roadblocks in the path of believers eager to learn of the fullness of the message. Tertullian (c. 155--c. 220), attacking flawed perceptions of the Faith in his own day, rather snidely wrote that Christ said that He was “the Truth”, not what was “customary”. 2 Flawed “customs” obscuring the knowledge and pursuit of the true path to transformation in Christ took deep root in late medieval Christendom, cutting off the natural “stairways to heaven” that Baroque Catholicism was to do so much to open up and widen.

II. A Developing Tradition Obscured by Flawed Customs

Numerous ecclesiastical and secular problems help to explain this interruption of the always difficult pilgrimage to God and its replacement with flawed approaches to learning and putting the Christian message into practice on the individual and corporate level, which, becoming “customary” were erroneously equated with Catholic Truth. Such problems include the inglorious collapse of the Crusading Movement, Church-State battles leading to the establishment of the Papacy in Avignon, the Plague, chaos in the Holy Roman Empire, the Hundred Years’ War, the Great Western Schism, and ultimately the scandalous behavior of many Renaissance clerics and political figures. All of these factors contributed mightily to making the effort of working to transform nature in Christ a task that seemed to be an utterly impossible fool’s task.

More important to our discussion here is the theoretical minefield laid in the lap of Catholics seeking to explore the fullness of the Christian message and put its transformative mission into action. This minefield was also complex in character, although its end effect can be easily explained. Quite simply, it blew to bits the union of the two branches of the sacred sciences whose harmonious cooperation is crucially needed to grasp the Divine Plan: the positive branch, which is concerned with the literary and living historical sources of the Faith, and the speculative, which employs human reason, logic, and philosophy as a whole to explicating the written and living message to guide its proper practical playing out in time. Hotheaded proponents of both speculative and positive theology contributed to the divorce in question.3

St. Bernard (1090-1153) may have been too harsh in his critique of the destructive arrogance of speculative thinkers like Peter Abelard (1079-1142). On the other hand, the complaints of John of Salisbury (1110s-1180), the Bishop of Chartres, regarding an eclipse of all non speculative studies necessary to Christian learning in the face of the Aristotelian onslaught in the twelfth century stimulating an often exaggerated, ideological emphasis upon the value of pure logic, ring all too true. For a rather dry Aristotelian logic and philosophical approach to learning, isolated as it can be from Scripture, the Platonic minded Church Fathers, the living, historical Catholic Tradition, and that feel for rhetoric valuable which is so effective in pastoral work can never be sufficient for the complete understanding of the Christian vision and its practical application.

Nevertheless, the revenge of the enemies of speculative thought was perhaps even more deeply damaging. At the top of the list of these foes of Realist Aristotelian thinkers were extreme Nominalist philosophers who condemned the supposedly blasphemous arrogance of attempting to put the human mind at the service of the message of the Revelation, and insisted that God’s inscrutable “will” must be accepted without trying to extrapolate and understand it. Alas, this apparent exaltation of “Christian humility” actually tended to lead to the equation of “ God’s will” with whatever it was that all too human individuals claimed that will to be.

The same was true of others who criticized the “pridefully ignorant” speculative endeavors of the Realist, Aristotelian Scholastics, and interpreted the “divine will” with their own diverse tools. These further critics included a number of supporters of different schools of mystical thought and many Renaissance Humanists: the former claiming to learn of God’s will by means of the messages imparted through their own interior spiritual lives; the latter through rhetorically inspiring, ancient literary works---at best, those of Scripture and the Church Fathers, and at worst texts that were purely pagan Greco-Roman masterpieces. Legal positivists who were eager to glorify the supposedly “Christian will” of whoever might hold power in the State were another all too prominent group gaining great influence from their assault on a speculative theological identification of truth and falsehood putting obstacles in the way of the exercise of pure coercive force.

In short, the revenge of the enemies of speculative theology guaranteed the victory of the arbitrary will: the will of the ruler, whose judgments are “law” in the mind of the legal positivists; the will of the mystic, to whom God speaks directly; and the will of the Humanist, who turns beautiful words to the service of whatever seems worthy of promoting to him---and profitable to boot. And in the teaching and administrative life of the late medieval Church, what this specifically meant was the exaltation by canonists in the pay of the Holy See of the plenitude of Petrine Power on the basis of papal “will” alone; a tragic application of Nominalist theological principles to the daily practical life of the Body of Christ. Hence, the dangerous words of the canonist in the Determinatio compendiosa of 1342:4

Especially is he, the pope, above every council and statute…; he it is, too, who has no superior on earth; he, the pope, gives dispensations from every law….Again, it is he who possesses the plenitude of power on earth and holds the place and office of the Most High….He it is who alters the substance of a thing, making legitimate what is illegitimate…and of a monk making a canon regular,…he it is who by absolving on earth absolves {also} in heaven, and by binding on earth binds {also} in heaven….Again, it is to him that nobody may say: ‘Why do you do that?’…He it is for whom the will is reason enough, since that which pleases him has the force of law (ei quod placet, legis vigorem habet);…he is not bound by the laws…etc (solutus est legibus). Indeed, the pope is the law itself and a living law (lex viva), to resist which is impermissible. This then is the Catholic and orthodox faith, approved and canonized by the holy fathers of old, from which all justice, religion, sanctity and discipline have emanated. If anyone does not believe it faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved, and without doubt will perish eternally.

“God’s will”, which over time was equated with “papal will”, was then used to justify endless abuses, the most destructive of which was the persistent treatment of diocesan administration from the standpoint of Roman economic needs rather than local pastoral concerns. Wherever papal will could be enforced, bishoprics were often assigned either to curial officials--to provide, from their endowments, salaries the Papacy could not otherwise pay--or to friends of political allies whose cooperative behavior needed to be rewarded.

Since it was impossible for papal (or political) employees to leave their administrative positions to tend to even one diocese—much less the two or more often entrusted to their misuse—episcopal charges inevitably entailed the same absenteeism practiced by the Roman Pontiff himself while in Avignon. Perhaps the most bizarre development from such unfortunate policies was to be the creation of nominal “bishops” who were occasionally not even priests. Such “bishops” got the revenues from their “property”, and then employed some consecrated hireling to do the episcopal tasks they themselves could not or would not perform. The result, in any event, was crystal clear: local bishops, whose oversight was desperately needed to bring transformation in Christ to fruition in a nuanced way in varied pastoral settings, were systematically hindered from doing what their apostolic task involved. While God might be claimed to “will this”, in practice His truth was being trampled by what had step-by-step had become simply papal and curial “custom”.

III. Spanish Reconnection with the Fullness of the Catholic Vision

In order to reconnect with the fullness of the Catholic vision and give it new life, thereby permitting later “Baroque” culture to do its part in developing that vision still further, two things were first necessary: a recovery of all of the tools required for a sound appreciation of Christian doctrine on the one hand and the kind of nuanced pastoral approach already encouraged by Pope Innocent III to bring that transformative doctrinal message and grace effectively into different groups’ and individuals’ lives on the other. Much was done to encourage recovery of these tools at the Council of Trent. But the Council of Trent would not itself have been capable of fulfilling this task had it not been pushed to do so by outside forces active in such labor for a good long time beforehand, with Spanish influence probably the most important of all.

Let us examine the Spanish role in the recovery of this two-fold set of tools, beginning with those providing doctrinal solidity. The achievement, while great, is, like the divorce of the sacred sciences discussed above, once again rather simple to explain. Spain developed institutions and offered teachers that overcame the self-destructive intellectual battle poisoning the late medieval world, “joining together what no man should put asunder”--- speculative and positive theology---to the perfection of both these partners in seeking divine knowledge.

The first of the great names associated with this fruitful endeavor is the Franciscan Church reformer and statesman, Cardinal Ximenez de Cisneros (1436-1517), who, on 24 July, 1508, founded at the rather modest University at Alcalá de Henares that he himself had for a time attended, the College of San Ildefonso. He brought along with him to enliven his foundation a group of students recruited from the much larger University of Salamanca where he had also studied.5

Francisco de Vitoria (1486–1546), who began teaching at Salamanca in 1524, led that university into its days of greatest renown. He did so not just through his own teaching, but through those of his fellow Dominican disciples as well, especially Domingo de Soto (1494–1560), who had also done some studies at the Alcalá, and Melchior Cano (1509–1560), who was to be influential at the University of Valladolid as well as at Salamanca. The nascent Society of Jesus, so important at Trent, and central to Catholic education in the post-Tridentine “Baroque” world, was to benefit greatly from both the Alcalá and Salamanca, incorporating the “marriage” of speculative and positive theology that these institutions and their greatest representatives had effectively brokered.6

What the Spaniards did was simply to reconnect with the best thinkers of the Realist school of scholastic speculative theology, so badly neglected due to Nominalist and reductionist Renaissance ridicule, and then utilize the logical surgical instruments these Realists so well sharpened in tandem with the literary concerns and skills they learned from the Humanists. St. Thomas Aquinas was at the top of the list of the redeemed Realists, although the works of later thinkers, even Nominalist critics, sometimes expressing a specific thought that was valuable, were not shunned either. Meanwhile, San Idelfonso also promoted the studies of Greek, Hebrew, and rhetoric so dear to Christian Humanist hearts, while those attending the Alcalá, Salamanca, and Valladolid developed that interest in the Scriptures, the Church Fathers and Church History which positive theology cultivates as well. All this together enriched their knowledge of the sources of Catholic Truth, their logical ability to understand its consequences, and their talent for explaining it with a sense of proper style. Once again, what was accomplished at the Alcalá and Salamanca was digested by the Jesuits and fed the successes of their educational network later on.

Allow me to elaborate on this theme just a bit further. It was due to Vitoria’s imparting of his personal marriage of speculative logic and the positive sources and style cultivated by Christian Humanists style to his disciples that Cano was able to produce his magnum opus, De Locis Theologicis (Salamanca, 1563). This work established the foundations of theological science on the basis of Scripture, Sacred History, the Church Fathers, the Councils, the decisions of other ecclesiastical authorities, and the value of the Natural Reason as developed by the Scholastic theologians and science, all, as was to be expected, presented with the best literary flair. It was Vitoria’s open mind that also formed De Soto, who was influential not just with his theological works, but also through his studies of motion---which had an impact on Galileo---linguistic theory, and---by means of his book On Justice and Law---on future treatments of natural law.

All three of these thinkers from Salamanca were convinced that Thomism in particular---once again, a Thomism applied together with the other tools noted above---had immediate practical value for all manner of contemporary issues. Practical applications ranged from Vitoria’s dealing with the proper treatment of the inhabitants of the New World in De Indis, to De Soto’s speculations on just war theory, property rights, contractual law, and economic issues, sharpened by his distinctions of God’s law, positive law, distributive justice, and commutative justice. Such men could not to be neglected by the powers that be---Domingo de Soto, for example, was Emperor Charles V’s confessor---even though the secular authorities did not always like what they heard them saying.

But what about the question of bringing the transformative Christian life down from the theoretical level to the practical daily life of groups and individuals? Cardinal Ximenez is justly remembered for his praiseworthy reforming activities touching primarily on the life of the clergy, in which he benefited from the constant support of Queen Isabella (1451-1504). But for our purposes here, relating the practical revivification by Spain of a Catholic vision that would then impact upon the Council of Trent and the development of Baroque Culture as a whole, the man whose influence we must most emphasize is St. Juan of Avila (1499- 1569).7

Born in Toledo, Juan first attended the University of Salamanca (1513-1517) and then the Alcalá (1520-1526), thus being formed by the mixture of speculative and positive theological and humanist education that both institutions favored. Ordained in 1526, he went to Seville with the idea of preparing for a life in the American missions. A Franciscan in the diocese, recognizing his superior catechetical and preaching skills, urged the Archbishop to keep him in Spain for more local missionary work, throughout the areas of Andalusia just recently brought upon Spanish Christian control. He did so while living together in a loosely structured community of priests engaged in similar labors, all of whose members looked to him for spiritual guidance. His rhetorically refined sermons were said to be “like a gun with much ammunition which when it was fired wounded many birds”.8

Denounced by enemies to the Inquisition, Juan spent 1532-1533 in prison---a time that he claimed was the most productive in his life, and during which he wrote his major work on spiritual direction, Audi, filia, for a young woman living a consecrated life under his tutelage. After being absolved by the Inquisition of all charges against him, he was incardinated in the diocese of Cordoba in 1535, preaching first in that city, and then, for five years down until 1541, in Granada, cementing through all of his labors his reputation as the “Apostle of Andalusia”.

Juan, as a spiritual guide, was eager to inspire clerics first and foremost to seek internal transformation in Christ as the absolutely indispensable prerequisite for effective pastoral activity. In this regard, he was influenced, like so many others in Spain in this rich sixteenth century by the writings of the Franciscan mystic, Francisco de Osuna (1492/1497-c. 1540). Juan was also convinced that sound intellectual training was essential to the pastoral effectiveness of a holy clergy, and this, of course, would require a mixture of speculative scholastic and positive humanist education. Avila's outstanding work during the middle years of his ministry was the establishment of schools at every level of instruction: schools of doctrine for children and adults, and colleges---the equivalent of our high schools and universities---the most notable of which was that in the Andalusian city of Baeza. Finally, he reminded the clergy under his influence that their pastoral labor had to be flexible in character; they were surgeons of souls, and the diseases that they were required to address were manifold in nature. Practical experience taught him this on a day-to-day basis as the Apostle of Andalusia, his tasks in Granada perhaps most of all.

Granada, both because of its large Moorish population as well as its influx of migrants from other parts of Spain, was a complex, challenging pastoral field of endeavor to say the very least. Nevertheless, Juan of Avila was to have a major impact in the city, directly in the years from 1536-1541, and indirectly thereafter. His direct labor coincided with the latter part of the episcopacy of Gaspar de Ávalos (1485-1545).

Avalos was quite different from St. John, more confrontational than nuanced in his pastoral approach. Nevertheless, with the Archbishop’s assistance, Avila was able to found the Colegio de Santa Catalina in 1537, utilizing it to promote his understanding of what a holy and educated clergy should be like. During these years of personal presence in Granada, Juan also “converted” a number of men who were to follow his guidance not just with respect to the foundations of the spiritual life, but also with regard to the need for diverse, nuanced approaches to different pastoral problems.

One of these “converts” was St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572), the third General of the Society of Jesus, to whose ranks Juan of Avila warmly directed more than thirty young men. He himself would probably have become a Jesuit were it not for the illness that weakened him from 1551 onwards. John was to be instrumental in leading the Jesuits to undertake their great educational apostolate.

Another convert was St. John of God (1495-1550), a truly singular personality, who, after listening merely to one of Avila’s sermons, changed the course of his whole life, dedicating it to religious self-sacrifice. His selfless work with the sick was to lead to the creation of the Brothers Hospitallers. “Will you not do something good for your brothers?” he would ask the people around him as he sought alms for his hospital in Granada; “Is there anyone who will do something good for his own brothers….Who will do something good for himself?”9 A city, many of whose inhabitants at first thought him to be literally insane, and mocked him openly for his madness, was, because of his obvious surrender to Christian charitable love, present in its entirety at his funeral in 1550.

A third convert was the Dominican, Blessed Luis de Granada (1504-1588), who studied at the Colegio de San Gregorio in Valladolid. His multifaceted writings on Scripture, Church History, and dogma were crowned by his ascetical works, most importantly, The Sinner’s Guide (1555). Luis’ preaching was equally brilliant. As might be expected from a follower of St. Juan of Avila, all that he wrote and preached was done with the greatest classical style, though translated into the pastorally effective vernacular: not just the Spanish vernacular, but many different languages in addition.

Avila’s indirect labor with Granada intersects with the story of Pedro Guerrero Logroño Mendoza (1501-1576).10 Guerrero, from an old family of northern Spain, had studied at Salamanca, but then moved on to the Alcalá, where he first met and worked together with St. Juan. It was Avila who recommended Guerrero for Archbishop in 1546 when the Emperor first offered it to himself. He sent his protégé a letter in 1547 as Guerrero took up his position in Granada, urging him on to constant preaching and unflagging pastoral work. “Since the wolves never cease biting and killing”, he concluded, “the prelate should never sleep or shut up”.11

Guerrero did as he was told, realizing, as a good disciple of St. Juan, that he had to focus his labor to begin with on creating a holy and educated clergy. He set up the Colegio Eclesiastico de San Cecilio for the training of clerics, insisting on the best of Humanist preparation for them. Specifying sixteen reform measures for their improvement as clerics, Guerrero sought to carry them out by means of extensive parish visitations throughout the archdiocese. The Archbishop was eager to promote all manner of nuanced pastoral activities as well, giving great support to St. John of God and his Brothers Hospitallers, and encouraging the laity in their efforts alongside those of the clergy.

Guerrero grew to be particularly close to the Jesuits. He liked their flexible confessional nuance, attended their lectures, encouraged the use of the Spiritual Exercises, and approved of their regular public preaching against social ills. Guerrero was deeply attached to the Casa de la Doctrina, established in 1559 by Pedro de Navarro, S.J., another of St. Juan’s followers, in the heart of the Moorish section called the Albaicîn. This institution had an enormous impact on the Moorish converts because of the fact that, like St. Juan and the Archbishop of Granada himself, it placed more emphasis upon personal faith and moral reform to establish one’s title to the name “Catholic” than simply that of being an Old Christian who was perhaps the servant more of “custom” than of Truth. The greatest testament to the Casa’s effectiveness was the hatred that it earned from the stubborn militants of the local Moslem community, who turned against it with a fury in a short-lived revolt later in the sixteenth century.

V. Spain and The Council of Trent

Trent, like many of its more ancient predecessors, was not an “easy” Council. It ultimately met in three sessions—1545-1547, 1551-1552, and 1562-1563, its uninterrupted progress deeply disturbed by political, personality, and procedural questions, alongside bitter, substantive disputes over what the actual “meat” of its labors must be and in what kind of language its decisions should be expressed. Although it was already at the First Session (1545-1547) that the crucial determination to deal with both doctrine and reform together was taken, and the supporters of Scholasticism and Humanism established their twin, indispensable rights to participate in accomplishing this work, there were constant clashes over exactly what this labor was to entail, such disputes spilling over into and even intensifying in the Second (1551-1552) and especially the Third (1562-1563) Sessions.

Spaniards were central to every aspect of these developments, some of them active at one or two Sessions only, others for all three. Educators from Salamanca like the Dominicans Domingo de Soto and Melchior Cano were at times present and very vocal. So were Spanish members of the new Society of Jesus, most importantly Alfonso Salmerón (1515-1585) and Diego Lainez (1512-1565), the new order’s second General. Learned diplomats such as Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503-1575) played their role also. Reforming bishops like Diego de Alaba y Esquivel of Astorgas, Avila, and then Cordoba (d. 1562), Bishop Martin Perez de Ayala (1504-1566) of Gaudix, Segovia, and then Valencia, and, most importantly, Guerrero of Granada, president of the Spanish delegation in 1551-1552 and 1562-1563 were crucial to the proceedings. One physically absent but very clear “presence” was Juan of Avila, whose reform memorials, to be discussed below, were to be pressed by Guerrero with great vigor. All of these men, once again, combined concerns for speculative and positive theology, Scholasticism and Humanism, and the need to imbed a Catholic vision founded on a sound doctrinal basis, in all aspects of life, in nuanced ways, for the sake of transformation in Christ.12

A more extended article would tackle how Spanish influence was central to the establishment of the basic principles of dealing with doctrine and reform and the use of both scholastic and humanist tools, with reference to the heated battles over the definition of “justification” which took place in the First Session, as well as to the often contentious discussions of the Sacraments over all three sittings. These can be followed most fruitfully in the appropriate volumes of Hubert Jedin’s masterful work on the Council of Trent.

I think it best to focus our attention on the most explosive Session of all: the Third. By that time the Spanish delegation was not only the biggest, but also the angriest at the Council. This was because it felt that serious reform was being stalled, and that guaranteeing its taking place required tackling an extremely important doctrinal and ecclesiological issue as well, once more illustrating how doctrine and pastoral concerns were intimately connected. Let us go back a bit in time to see how this all was to play out at Trent.

Reforming Spanish bishops, educators, and preachers, were very much aware of the problems afflicting the Universal Church in general and the Papal Court in particular for decades before the opening of the Council.13 When the First Session opened, Spanish delegates were immediately to encounter a great deal of “push back” from the Roman Curia and curial-minded bishops, Italians for the most part, who considered themselves to be the sole stalwart defenders of Catholic “tradition”. These “spoilers”, illustrating Tertullian’s complaint, confused what were deeply rooted, abusive, “customary” beliefs and practices with Sacred Tradition as such. Catholics critical of existing abuses were, in their minds, at the very least, the kind of deluded, destructive zealots that centuries of bureaucratic papal prudence and pragmatism had sought to tame. At worst, they were themselves the true problem of the day, unnecessarily aggravating a Protestant tempest-in-a-teapot that could be quelled through the tried laws and methods of practical professionals.

When the First Session was moved to Bologna, deep inside the Papal State and therefore more subject to curial control than Trent, the Spanish deemed this to be an Italian trick to avoid reform measures, which, indeed were stalled.14 The Second Session, in 1551-1552, saw them blocked as well. It was the Third Session that was to prove definitive for reform, and this, primarily only in the final seven months of its proceedings after a great deal of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Guerrero, who had been so eager to cooperate with his fellow Council Fathers at the Second Session that one of the papal legates said that nothing useful could have ben accomplished without him, had nevertheless come away disillusioned by the obstructionism he had encountered there. When he left to head the Spanish Delegation at the Third Session in 1561, he was a much more angry man, attacked by the Italians as being “harder and more obstinate than a rock”.15 He seems to have relished his reputation, writing to King Philip II: “I believe that I have made myself a troublemaker in the eyes of these men, but that fact causes me no pain whatsoever.”16 Bishop Gonzalez de Mendoza of Salamanca claimed “the Italians hate Guerrero so much that upon hearing that he wants one thing, they do the contrary”. 17 The Archbishop of Granada was convinced that all this was due simply to their corruption, recipients as they were of papal bribes. In later life Guerrero was still calling up references to his bad experiences from conciliar days:18

I have no special permission from the Holy See to dispose freely of certain goods held through the Church, although I easily could have obtained such permission during my second stay at Trent, as did all of the other prelates who graciously accepted such grans. I was likewise invited to do so, but in order to remain free to conduct that business of the council, I neither asked for it nor accepted it.

Juan of Avila was deeply on Guerrero’s mind at the Third Session. The Apostle of Andalusia, whom the Archbishop had wanted to take part in Trent as a peritus, did not attend, but did write two “Memorials”, one for the Second Session in 1551 entitled “Reform of the Ecclesiastical State”, and another for the Third in 1561 labeled “Causes and Remedies of Heresies” to aid the Spanish Delegation in its work. A third document in 1563 called “Treatise on the Priesthood” completed his thoughts on the subject of reform, based as they were on years of experience pursuing it. Guerrero took his writings, and their intimate connection of reform and doctrine, seriously to heart.19

As we have seen, St. Juan of Avila’s ultimate goal was the conversion and transformation of all men in Christ, and this required the labor of priests who were “surgeons of souls” who could deal in a nuanced manner with a myriad of different spiritual illnesses. Hence, the deep concern for the training of the necessary surgeon-priests---the shock troops for the entire Christian project---that we have noted to be such a central part of his labor in southern Spain. That training, first of all, demanded the holiness of the priest himself. No amount of zeal for reform legislation could compensate for the lack of priests---whose chief pastoral tool was the Eucharist, and whose sacral touching of the God-Man whom he distributed to his flock transformed his consecrated existence---who did not pursue the path of self-perfection as their chief personal goal.

Nevertheless, personal priestly sanctification, crucial to the work of aiding the laity, was not something that could effectively be pursued in the Mystical Body of Christ as an atomistic activity. A prayerful, communal fraternal spirit among priests must be cultivated, to serve as a most powerful stimulus to aiming at perfection. We have seen that Juan, during his early priesthood in Seville, had lived with other clerics in a loosely structured community, and for many years afterwards, disciples continued to gather around him to live a kind of non-monastic fraternal life.

Creating this life-long brotherly spirit was something that must itself be stimulated by having those training to become priests first live together before their ordination. Good positive theologian that he was, Juan cited the ancient examples of St. Jerome and St. Ambrose, who founded communities for the training of the clergy, the former telling a young man wanting to become a priest to live in a monastery in such a way that you may deserve to become a cleric. 20 “If we acted as they did”, Juan insisted, “within a few years, there would be a different kind of priest and people than there are now." As he stated in his first memorial of 1551:21

If the Church wants good ministers it must create them; and, if it wants good ‘surgeons of souls’, it must take the responsibiiity of raising them so, as well as the responsibility for the work involved; and, if not, it will not achieve what it desires….A tree, in order to realize its potential, needs, from an early age, to be directed and straightened. The horse and the mule, in order that they learn to take proper steps, must first be under the hand of the trainer. And, similarly, in all human offices, the good official is not born already made, but, rather, must be made.

Bishops, as the servants of their clergy rather than their masters, had the central responsibility in this labor. Avila took it for granted that bishops entering into their dioceses understood that they, too, had to make a general examination of conscience to assure that their primary personal commitment as prelates was to the pursuit of holiness and that venal motivation was rejected in all of the decisions that they made. He then told the bishops that they must stop discussing reform, since there had already been plenty of dialogue. Now we can "excuse ourselves from deliberation and take up the task of putting into practice something that fell into disuse because of the sins and calamities of the Church."22 . There was no need either for making new regulations demanding a serious clergy in their diocese. Once again, there were already enough regulations on the law books, "yet, with all of this, everyone knows how wicked, how ignorant, and how disordered we ecclesiastics can become." 23 Assuring a holy clergy was the task before them, and this, in the long run, could only be achieved through the establishment of seminaries.

Bishops had to be aware that the cause of the ruin of the clergy had been the entrance of worldly people into its ranks; men who had no knowledge of the grandeur of the state they are undertaking and whose hearts were on fire merely with earthly ambitions. To this end, Juan recommended painstaking selection of the candidates who would receive a rigorous, communal, fraternal, spiritual and intellectual formation in the seminary precincts. No one must be allowed to enter the seminary who entered due to property concerns or concupiscence. Hence, the widespread late medieval definition of the life of the priest with primary reference to economic questions---what kind of benefice or “living” he possessed---rather than his spiritual vocation had to be condemned, root and branch.

The Christian people pay dearly when a candidate for the priesthood enters into this path in response not to God's call, but to "the call of money and an easy life". Such priests will unworthily touch the Body of the Lord, the harm of the entirety of the Mystical Body, as "those who were supposed to be shepherds turn themselves into wolves and make carnage in the souls of those they were supposed to bring to life."24 If bishops were going to accept men without the proper spiritual and intellectual capacity, then they should label their chief goal "the cultivation of fields in barren lands".25

No one with any sense, Avila says, would entrust a wounded animal to an untrained veterinarian. How then entrust one for whom Christ died to someone who has no training in the "art of arts," the care of souls?

For a tree to grow straight, it is necessary to guide and straighten it from the time it is small. For a horse or a mule to be driven, they have to first be under the hand of a trainer. In all human occupations, the skilled person is not born ready-made but must become good at what he does. Becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a carpenter, a shoemaker, or anything else, requires its year or years of initiation and apprenticeship so that the person can learn little by little the skill that afterwards he can exercise without danger. Well, being a priest and becoming a good one is a thing of great perfection and difficulty.

All seminarians, operating in a communal, fraternal, atmosphere of prayer were “vessels” which had to filled to capacity for a task in which the intellect would play its role throughout their lifetime; “so that, growing with age, goodness, and learning, the priest may speak with authority and, without danger, may exercise his high office". They were, after all, learning what it was that St. Gregory the Great called “the art of arts, the care of souls”. Ignorance of doctrine was a tool of the devil, and all seminarians becoming parish priests must be formed doctrinally through knowledge of Scripture and speculative studies. They also were to study “grammar” for at least four or five years, so that they would have the rhetorical skills needed to transmit what they have learned. And they needed to study practical conscience problems so as to address the diversity of diseases that the soul doctor had to handle. Finally, some of their number should be dedicated to higher learning in the Sacred Sciences to help the bishop and other priests as was necessary. They could be a tremendous help in avoiding the errors that can easily creep in when there is a little knowledge and in dealing with difficult cases that are sure to arise.26

As already noted, Archbishop Guerrero had St. Juan of Avila’s reform proposals very much on his mind as leader of the Spanish delegation at the Third Session of the Council of Trent. But given the Papacy’s treatment of diocesan resources as property questions, and its willingness to tolerate episcopal absence and neglect in order to support either certain bishops’ work at the Roman Curia or that of curial officials who had nothing whatsoever to do with local affairs, abuses perpetrated by the Holy See had directly to be addressed as well. To do so meant that the connection of the pastoral and the doctrinal had once more to be raised, this time with respect to basic ecclesiology: namely, the very nature of the Episcopacy, its God-given responsibilities, and its relationship with the Papacy, as well as the question of whether and to what degree the Holy See could act in an erroneous and abusive manner. Interestingly enough, these concerns were in many respects very similar to the very first suggestions for reform coming from the Consilium de emendanda Ecclesia of 1537, commissioned by Pope Paul III, which was highly critical of papal curial practices, identifying them as the central cause of corruption in the Church at large.27

Before any conciliar confrontation with Rome emerged, Guerrero and the Spanish delegation actually worked in union with the papal legates over another doctrinal issue: securing the acceptance of the dogmatic work already done by the Council beforehand. This meant confirmation of the Third Session’s continuity with the previous two rather than its convocation representing a completely fresh beginning. Battle over this matter was joined due to German and French attempts to review the Council’s earlier reassertion of the Catholic Tradition because of the continuing and growing strength of Protestant forces in their own lands. Problems only began once this crucial Papal-Spanish victory was achieved.28

Guerrero believed that the key to moving onto serious reform required wresting control over the conciliar agenda from the pope and the papal legates and putting it into the hands of the council bishops themselves. As he wrote to King Philip II: 29

We complain because we have been denied the right to propose and deal with highly necessary things that are appropriate to such councils, and very important to the wellbeing of the entire Church, especially regarding matters of reformation. It has been nearly twenty years now that such issues have been discussed here, but we have not yet been able to reform even a single abuse at its root among the great quantity of abuses that exist….If this is the way it will be done, then it would be better if you simply ordered us to return to our churches, for nothing will be accomplished.

Philip nearly convinced Rome to allow Guerrero’s deeply desired right of proposal, but Cardinal Giovanni Morone (1509-1580), the chief papal legate, blocked it, horrified that such permission, rather than speeding up business, would guarantee further years of tedious and ultimately fruitless debate. Nevertheless, Pius did allow the delegates to meet unofficially among themselves to make reform proposals that the pope and the papal legates then themselves considered, reworked, and presented for the deliberation of all.

It was because of this concession that Avila’s reform memorials were made known to the Council Fathers. Some of his proposals intersected with those presented by the Portuguese Archbishop of Braga, Bartolomeo de Martyris (1514-1590). When finally brought before the Council for deliberation in July of 1563, the major doctrinal statements that Guerrero put forward regarding the God-given character and responsibilities of the Episcopacy were strongly opposed by the “Curial Party”. To complicate matters still further, although the French, led by Louis Cardinal de Guise (1527-1578), supported major aspects of this Avila inspired reform program, his delegation’s own approach emphasized a different doctrinal vision regarding the Episcopacy that almost no one among the Spanish could ever approve.30

French delegates at Trent did not accept the validity of the Council of Florence, with its powerful defense of papal prerogatives, and looked instead to the teachings of the Councils of Constance and Basel which affirmed the superiority of councils, weakened the ability of the Holy See to guide individual churches, and thus gave support to the rights of bishops and local concerns which in France were referred to as “Gallican liberties”. A Church organized under such guidelines, they argued, followed the ancient Christian model, which was held out by the French as an object of imitation for all problems of teaching and reform.

Papalist bishops---the so-called zelanti, mostly Italians---wished to have Trent confirm the Florentine decrees dealing with papal authority that the French opposed. From their standpoint, support of Constance and Basel meant schismatic Conciliarism at best and heretical Conciliarism at worst. They were backed in their arguments---although more moderately and thoughtfully---by the Spanish Jesuit Lainez, who represented a reform-minded militancy that was nevertheless basically strongly pro-Roman in approach.31

Spanish bishops rejected what they considered to be a fanciful French divinization of an ancient Church whose actual character they felt to be still a subject more of speculation than of real knowledge.32 Still, while accepting the decrees of Florence, they did insist upon their more precise definition of the dignity of the episcopal state as such. Thus, however much they might admit that the individual bishop owed his jurisdiction to Rome and obedience to papal doctrinal leadership, they maintained that the bishop’s role as a direct successor to the Apostles placed him under divine obligation to reside in his diocese and carry out his God-given---not papal given--- responsibilities. Their arguments in this regard were based upon that mixture of positive and speculative theology that they had learned from Vitoria, De Soto, and Juan of Avila.33 As the Bishop of Guadix said, summarizing their position: 34

Not only do bishops hold all that they have by ius divinum, but also, although they are confirmed by the Holy See, they do not by this confirmation cease to hold divine sanction, since neither St. John Chrysostom nor St. Basil nor other ancient prelates can be shown ever to have been confirmed by or even to have received anything from the Roman Pontiff.

Even when, in the course of debate, some Spanish bishops seemed to make what could be construed as extreme statements regarding episcopal right, they did so simply because they wanted to emphasize the necessity of the urgency of the issue and the importance of accepting nuance in local applications of universal Christian precepts. Hence, a conscientious bishop would have to oppose the widespread awarding of dioceses to people who worked in Rome and never actually administered their sees, and the granting of so many exemptions to individuals and religious orders that governance by a resident bishop became frustrating and almost impossible. As an episcopal college, in council, the Spanish bishops felt called upon to demand reform of the papal court itself and eliminate the perpetuation of such abuses.

The Curial Party insisted that basing residence on divine command to bishops recognized as receiving their power as Successors to the Apostles directly from God would violate the Scriptural teaching of Matthew 16: 18-19 and that it would make the papal governance of the Church impossible. Many zelanti loudly condemned not just the French Gallican position but also the Spanish arguments as heretical. From the standpoint of Guerrero and his fellow Spaniards, opposition to the basing of episcopal authority on divine law was itself unequivocally heretical, refusal to discuss the question outrageous, and failure to do so cause for abandoning any further stay at Trent entirely.35 They were incredulous that the Curial Party claimed that requiring episcopal residence to guarantee good governance of dioceses would somehow “hurt the pope”. Once again, they believed that only reason for this kind of statement was enslavement to a vision of the clerical life as primarily a property rather than a vocational matter; a vision dangerous to the eternal salvation of the priest and his flock. The debate was to prove to be a long and bitter one.36

Ecclesiology proved to be so productive of division that Cardinal Morone and a group of leaders of the various nations at the Council concluded that the only way to deal with the matter and achieve some measure of reform was to abandon a direct treatment of the doctrinal issue. Still, with the Gallican approach muffled through Guise’s aid, a very good deal of the Spanish ecclesiological position entered indirectly into the impressive reform decrees passed in the last sittings the Council in the latter part of 1563.

Council Fathers did, indeed, lay down certain reform guidelines for the papal court itself. The authority of the bishop in the governance of his diocese and the call for his residence therein were significantly strengthened, even without any specific reference to this as a result of his God-given responsibility as a Successor to the Apostles. Exemptions that were previously enjoyed by religious orders, lay patrons, confraternities, and even the Papacy were abolished, regardless of what “immemorial custom” dictated. Permission for preaching and hearing confession was left to the discretion of the local Ordinary. Further detailed reform was left for elaboration at the local level after the Council’s end, but the presence of papal legates at provincial synods seemed to guarantee continued guidance from an internationally minded Papacy.

Avila and Guerrero’s influence are also clearly to be seen in the mandate for the establishment in each diocese of a seminary for the proper training of future priests. The final decree ordering this measure very much reflects Avila’s particular concerns, although in less metaphorical language than noted above. It also recalls Guerrero’s actual 1547 rules for the running of Ecclesiastical College of San Cecilio in Granada, stipulating that seminaries only take young men “whose character and inclination afford a hope that they will always serve in the ecclesiastical ministry”. 37

VI. A Never-Ending Construction of a “Baroque” Christendom: 1563-2021

Serious reform-minded bishops returned home from Trent ready to “take no enemies” in their work for correction of the many deeply rooted abuses in the life of the Church. Although certainly now in possession of an arsenal of new canonical weapons with which to battle for “transformation of all things in Christ”, and well aware of being able to summon fresh, militant forces like the Jesuits to help wield them, they were very quickly to find that their struggle would still by no means be an easy one. For nascent Baroque Catholicism, brilliant though it would prove to be, was not---and could not be---destined to provide a “final word” for a task that would have to respond to ever-new problems, alongside perennial ones, until the end of time. Let us explore this truth briefly, in very broad strokes, focusing primarily on Spain and Spanish territories, in ways that bring us directly to the problem of our own day: the total renunciation of the central project of transformation that characterizes contemporary “mainstream” Catholicism.

First of all, no mere possession of the “right canons” could ever guarantee that those motivated by the proper reforming spirit would infallibly exercise an effective personal activity on behalf of the good cause. This is well demonstrated in the case of even such a sterling prelate like Guerrero of Granada. Weary of his constant, decades-long battle for improvements that he thought to be obviously apostolic in nature and essential to the well being of the Church, he came to view opposition to their implementation as always explicable only by incorrigible corruption. In doing so, he abandoned the nuanced pastoral approach that he had learned from Juan of Avila and had practiced so fruitfully in the first period of his episcopacy. Guerrero now moved so authoritatively against obstacles to his will that his enemies accused him of employing as bishop the same “tyrannical” tools that he had attacked as arbitrary and excessive in the hands of the Papacy.38

In short, the building of effective Catholic stairways to heaven is a work “constantly in progress”. It is permanently threatened not only by outright evil, but also by every flaw of every individual with free will in a world marred by sin---those of good bishops like Guerrero included. Unfortunately, this stubborn truth can---and did---lead in many cases to renewal of a frustration productive of despair; despair over the feasibility of the entire project of transformation in Christ such as already witnessed in the period of the Late Middle Ages. Why bother to work for something that seemed incapable of achievement?

Secondly, and much more importantly, doctrinal problems continued to jeopardize working with nature for the greater glory of God. The Council of Trent realized---more, I would venture to say, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit than through the brilliance and the conscious will of its leadership, which generally fumbled its way to this conclusion---that there could be no firm foundation for efficacious pastoral work without the guidance of sound, revealed teaching, unveiled by the harmonious cooperation of speculative and positive theology. Should this foundation be lacking, pastoral initiatives could once again end by promoting merely “willful” influences which, when deeply rooted, would form “customs” falsely equated with Catholic Truth. This would revive the situation of the Late Middle Ages, but now with still more disastrous long-term consequences hostile to the transformative mission of Christ, since it would be like “a dog returning to its vomit” (2 Peter: 2, 22, citing Proverbs).

Serious dangers to the solidity of that foundation emerged from the fact that what was decided at Trent doctrinally was only accomplished through a great deal of compromise---much of it very grudging compromise to say the very least. Bitter, centuries-long quarrels over unfinished business, especially with respect to the two basic issues of ecclesiology and justification, were to demonstrate the impossibility of avoiding new disputes, and just how much the battling over doctrinal lacunae in the work of the Council was to be exploited on the pastoral level to subvert the work of making of nature a rock solid “stairway to heaven”.

As far as ecclesiology is concerned, we have seen that attempts to tackle one central aspect of the “constitution” of the Mystical Body of Christ---the apostolic character of the Episcopacy and its exact relationship to the Papacy---proved to be so provocative as almost to break up the Third Sitting of the Council in 1562-1563 entirely. What came from the Council remained ambiguous. The Spanish had ensured the passage of reform measures effectively enshrining the divine authority of the bishop as a Successor to the Apostles, but these were accompanied by a statement that “the authority of the Apostolic See both is, and is understood to be, untouched thereby”.39

The touchiness of addressing the respective roles of the clergy and the laity, as primarily reflected historically in the relationship of the Church and officially Christian States whose justification of their work for the social order was deeply intertwined with religious issues, proved to be equally divisive. Both the French and the Spanish bishops were concerned about the growing power of the so-called “New Monarchies” and wished to protect episcopal authority from being usurped by them. The fact that there were problems here that needed to be clarified led Council Fathers to press for discussion of a “reform of the princes” at Trent, and Cardinal Giovanni Morone (1509-1580), who presided, as papal legate, in the Council’s last nine months, to use the threat of this discussion to convince the great powers to come to terms on the episcopal-papal issue. Hence, discussion of the exact relationship of Church and State was also shelved.40

What did such gaps in ecclesiology mean for effective pastoral work? Everyone publicly insisted that such labor was needed, but continued to quarrel over who was to be the most important force propelling it. Was this to be predominantly the responsibility of the Pope, whose prerogatives the Council claimed to have left untouched, or the local bishops, whose authority, in practice, was indeed considerably strengthened by the decisions of Trent? But if the bishops were to be the prime movers in pastoral matters, were they really to be free to do what they deemed important, or were they to become chiefly agents of the Most Christian Kings and Catholic Majesties who generally controlled their nominations, confirmations, and the boundaries of their practical activity? Among many other problems, failure to touch on Church-State issues meant neglect of the whole question of what was going on in the worldwide missions under Spanish and Portuguese control, and whether the spiritual interests of the indigenous colonial peoples were uppermost in governments’ minds or subordinated to secular ones.

Couple the confusion as to which authority should lead the crusade for the transformation of all things in Christ with the intensification of the still more basic debate over how the individual believers engaged in the construction of stairways to heaven were “justified” in the sight of God, and the result had to be a new crisis in the life of what has always been a crisis-filled Church.

Much of this latter struggle was to involve the Society of Jesus---so closely associated in the popular mind with Spain, Trent, and Baroque Culture. It was also to involve St. Juan of Avila and the whole Spanish achievement of the Alcalá and the University of Salamanca, since the Jesuits, with Lainez as the chief instrument for making this a permanent project of the Society, were to “bear the burden of the schools”, with a program and spirit directly redolent of their spirit and structures for incarnating it. As the letter of August 10th, 1560, cementing the Jesuit tie to education stated:41

There are two ways of helping our neighbors: one is in the colleges by the education of youth in letters, learning, and Christian life. The other is to help all universally through preaching, [hearing] confessions, and all the other means in accord with our customary way of proceeding.

One of the most important Spanish Jesuits at the Council, Father Alfonso Salmerón, knew just how much compromise played a role in the conclusion of its dogmatic work from personal experience. He cautioned his confreres against the potentially deadly divisions that could arise from too rigorous demands for sharper definitions of doctrinal matters only partially settled at Trent.42 Nevertheless, this warning proved to be extremely difficult to follow. For Jesuits, Dominicans, and Augustinians quickly engaged in conflict over a more exact identification of the relationship of grace and free will in justification in ways that impacted mightily upon sacramental and devotional practices, spiritual direction, and missionary tools---once again emphasizing the impossibility of separating doctrine and pastoral activity.43

Spain and Spanish territories were central to the battle that was joined, the main lines being formed in favor of or in opposition to the Jesuit Luis de Molina (1535-1600), a professor at a number of different institutions in the Iberian Peninsula and promoter of the “free will friendly” doctrine of probabilism. His battery of “grace favoring” enemies included the disciples of Domingo Bañez (1528 -1604), Dominican Rector of the University of Salamanca, along with those of two teachers from the Spanish Netherlands: Michael Baius (1513-1589), the Rector of the University of Louvain in the Spanish Netherlands, and, much more importantly, Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), Bishop of Ypres and author of the Augustinus, the “Bible” of the subsequent Jansenist movement.

From inconclusive disputations under the presidency of Popes Clement VIII (1592-1605) and Paul V (1605-1621), through reiterated condemnations of laxism and rigorism, semi-Pelagianism and crypto-Protestantism, the debate continued to rage though the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It very quickly invaded the realm of spiritual direction, liturgical, sacramental, and sacramental and devotional life, arousing the interest of kings, law courts, and all ranks of clergy and people, so that anybody who might stake any claim to teaching anything became involved. From shaky victory to temporary defeat to a renewed but fragile ascendance, the free will camp appeared to have won the magisterial doctrinal victory by the time of Clement XI’s (1700-1721) powerful apostolic constitution, Unigenitus, in 1713. Nevertheless, unending, bitter, Janenist-led opposition to Unigenitus turned the tide against it, but in alliance with a variety of other anti-Jesuit forces. These, all together, whatever the particular often quite contradictory goals of each, ended by working to “liberate” pastoral activity not just from doctrinal guidance, but from every supernatural spiritual force whatsoever---grace included---interrupting once gain the project of transformation of all things natural in Christ.

They did so ultimately under anti-supernatural, anti-doctrinal, and inevitably anti-rational “willful” pressures coming, to begin with, from two Protestant sources. 44One of these was Pietism, which sought to avoid the theological disputes that were tearing the Reformation world apart by replacing them with an emphasis upon a “simple” commitment to living the precepts of a moral, charitable Christian life, regarding which everyone could still “obviously” agree. The other, itself partly shaped by Pietism, was Newtonian Physico-Theology, which claimed that God was best adored through the study of the physical, natural laws of His Creation and the practical application for the benefit of mankind as a whole that was given to them through the work of institutions like the Royal Society of London and its imitators. Both of these models placed more hope for building stairways to heaven through focusing upon what seemed to “work” on a natural level to create peace and well-being for the community at large, pointing both to their “successes” in following this path as well as the “failures” of lands still enthralled to supernatural, doctrinal concerns.

The non-Protestant world brought the Pietist and Newtonian Physico-Theological approach to practical fruition by the second half of the eighteenth century. It did so through the policies of supposedly Catholic States who joined in the anti-supernatural, anti-doctrinal, and anti-intellectual campaign out of admiration for countries such as Britain and Prussia, which were already experiencing great successes in marching down the pathway of “whatever works”, without fear of being criticized for dogmatic errors with moral consequences. They did so also out of fear of losing out in the general battle for earthly power and riches if they did not follow suit.

In pursuing their goals, Catholic States found that they could rely on arguments presented to them from the alliance of forces noted above frustrated with what it deemed to be an erroneous, Jesuit manipulated presentation of Roman doctrine. Jansenists, especially, joined in this game because a de-emphasis on doctrine allowed them a chance to pursue their pet projects under the guise of purely “pastoral” activities whose anti-free will direction, doctrinally-charged though it seriously was, would be left to wreak its havoc under the rubric of avoiding “useless theological divisiveness”. State and so-called “Reform Catholic” aims came to mold one another, with a “truly pastoral Christianity” gradually being equated with a dismantling of the rich sacramental, devotional, and liturgical life of a “false”, “Baroque Catholicism” and its replacement with a piety based on “inner feeling”, “simplicity”, and, inevitably, purely naturalist economic development.

Spain and Spanish territories in general succumbed to these pressures under the reign of King Charles III (1759-1788), who had already gained a reputation as a reformer while ruler of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1759). His effort to redirect society to the primary goal of practical, constructive labor was aided by Spaniards such as the Benedictine Benito Jeronimo Feijoo (1676-1764), author of the Teatro critico universal, Pedro Rodriguez de Campomanes (1723-1803), whose Discourse on the Encouragement of Popular Industry (1774) argued for the universal spread of the English-style cooperative scientific movement as the best means of promoting natural efficiency, organizations such as the Basque Economic Society of Friends of the Country, founded in 1763, and bishops such as José Clíment (1706-1781) and Felipe Bertrám (1704-1783). The impact of these measures in secularizing Spain, Italy, and---perhaps more than anywhere else---Latin America, cannot be overemphasized. Things spiritual were reduced to the natural in all fields of endeavor.

Thankfully, the realities of the French Revolution and the fight against it awakened the remnants of what was more than merely a “Baroque” Church to what was eternally essential in her character, long enough to recognize and deconstruct the trick being played on her, and to open the eyes of many purely “pastoral-minded” reformers as well. Rediscovery is the best word to characterize the experience of a great number of committed Catholics of the 1800’s. Throughout the post-French revolutionary Catholic world, thinkers and activists of impressive caliber demonstrated a desire to learn, develop and put into practice truths which had been buried by decades and even centuries of governmental, Jansenist, naturalist, and simple parochial “custom”.45

Depending upon energy, taste, and imagination, this drive led them back to the doctrinal riches of the Fathers of the Church, past the medieval scholastics, past Councils, and to a mystical, devotional, and liturgical life rich in practical pastoral lessons for both the Catholic community and individuals. The centers of re-discovery were lay/clerical circles of believers, religious confraternities, orders restored after the devastation of the Revolution, university faculties, and groups gathering round those journals and newspapers that seemed to spring up everywhere in the course of the nineteenth century. Catholic Spain, which despite the mighty---but somewhat brief---assault against the Baroque, had still managed to retain much of its spirit, and was not missing from this widespread endeavor.

Nevertheless, the most powerful forces in the outside world were to remain dedicated to the anti-Catholic naturalist spirit. Moreover, their fellow traveling “Reform Catholic” allies, while temporarily forced by a union of the Papacy with the nineteenth century “Baroque” revival movement to go underground, by no means disappeared. Both of these forces, together, aided by accidental political circumstances, were strong enough to thwart the revivalist attempt at Vatican One to deal with the lacunae of the ecclesiological problem through a doctrinally rich and much detailed definition of the “Constitution” of the Mystical Body obviously aimed at the project of “transforming all things in Christ”. This projected succeeded only in defining Papal Infallibility---out of context---and in a manner that was to have serious consequences in creating the exaggerated Ultramontanism of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Militant Catholics, both cleric and lay, dedicated to the need to gain a sound doctrinal foundation in order to conduct an effective pastoral labor for transformation of all things in Christ did yeoman service in a myriad of ways in the years after First Vatican Council. They succeeded in developing still further and in a number of respects still more brilliantly what is, once again, not merely Baroque Culture but the full Catholic Tradition. Sad to say, inevitable personal failings and internal battles regarding how to accomplish this task also continued unabated.

Unfortunately, the solidity of the alliance of outside naturalist forces with internal proponents of a “non-doctrinal” Catholicism, immeasurably strengthened due to the unexpected addition to this federation of the Papacy itself---a Papacy that could count on obedience to an exaggerated estimation of papal infallibility and authority---proved capable, from the 1960s onwards, of having a Second Vatican Council separate “the pastoral” from the “doctrinal” once more. The consequences have been as palpable as they were inevitable: the redefinition of what is “Catholic” under the pressure of whatever the strongest “will” in any given place may be. These “wills” have proven to be “legion”, quite diverse, but all purely secular and ever more unrecognizable as having anything whatsoever to do with the Roman Faith. Alas, after sixty years of influence, wherever such “wills” dominate, their definition of what is Catholic has become “customary”.

But what is “customary” is not what is “True”. What is customary in a purely naturalist form cannot take the stubborn, sinfully marred, but nevertheless God-created and Christ redeemed “stuff” of life and lead men into a glorious Roman piazza where things earthly and divine are united. It cannot build stairways to heaven since heaven has been denied its central role as guide to the architects necessary for this task. Such staircases require the “Baroque” spirit; the Catholic spirit; the spirit that Spain did so much to revive in the sixteenth century; the spirit that Verbo contributes to maintaining still today.

1 On Innocent, see J. Powell, ed., Innocent III: Vicar of Christ or Lord of the World? (Catholic U, 1994), pp. 1-33, 178-184; On the whole Clunaic Movement, see J. Rao, Black Legends and the Light of the World (Remnant Press, 2011), pp.117-170.

2 De virginibus velandis I, 1 in: Corpus Christianorum seu nova Patrum collection [CChr] II, 1209).

3 The best text to use to follow the unfortunate development discussed below is G. de Lagarde, La naissance de l’esprit laique au declin du moyen age (Nauwelaerts, Five Volumes, 1958). See, also, Rao, Op. cit., pp. 171-246.

4 F. Oakley, The Western Church in the Late Middle Ages (Cornell, 1985), p. 165.

5 On the Alcalá, see https://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=419; L.Fernández de Retana, Cisneros y su siglo (Wentworth Press, 2019); https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0040563917744653?journalCode=tsja

6 P.O. Kristeller, Renaissance Thought: The Classic, Scholastic, and Humanist Strains (Harper, 1961); H. Jedin, Geschichte des Konzils von Trient, Four Volumes (Herder, 1950-1975). Jedin’s book catalogues the Spanish contribution throughout its four volumes. To begin with, one could look at Volume I, 114, 123, 129, 321, 420, 428, 445, 502, 607; Francisco de Vitoria: Political Writings, translated by J, Lawrence, ed. J. Lawrence and A. Pagden  (Cambridge, 1991); Christianity and Natural Law, ed. N. Doe (Cambridge, 1917); JJP Camacho, “Domingo de Soto en el Origen de la ciencia moderna”. Lucia IS (1994) Revista de Filosofia 7:455–475; https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03251a.htm; “Humanism and Scholasticism in Sixteenth Century Academe: Five Student Orations from the University of Salamanca”, https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Humanism+and+Scholasticism+in+Sixteenth-+Century+Academe.+Five...-a064057474 http://cdn.theologicalstudies.net/59/59.3/59.3.3.pdf.

7 For all the below, see D. Coleman, Creating Christian Granada (Cornell, 2003), pp. 137-144; for Avalos, pp. 119-129; on his “converts”, pp. 9-10, 93, 143-144.

8 Ibid., p. 140.

9 Coleman, Op. Cit., pp. 130-137; citation from p. 132.

10 Ibid., pp. 144-176.

11 Ibid., p. 149.

12 See Jedin, Op. cit., II, III, IV, passim; also Coleman, Op. cit., pp. 144-176.

13 Jedin, Op. cit. I, 106-108, 123-124

14Jedin, Op. Cit. , II, 353-376.

15Coleman, Op. Cit., p. 145.

16 Ibid., pp. 145-147.

17 Ibid., p. 66.

18 Ibid., p. 167

19 Coleman, Op. cit., pp. 139, 171; Sr. Joan Gormley, “St. Juan of Avila and the Reform of the Priesthood”, https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=6038; NB: there are no page numbers to be cited from the Gormley article.

20 Juan de Avila, Memorial I. 12. Avila says this quotation is from Augustine, but it is actually from Jerome, Epist. 125, 17.

21 Ibid. ; Coleman, Op. cit., p. 173

22 Juan, Op. Cit., 11.

23 Ibid., 3.

24 Juan of Avila, Treatise on the Priesthood, 42.

25 Sr. Gormley, Op.cit.; Juan of Avila, Memorial, I, 9.

26 Sr. Gormley, Op. cit.

27 Coleman, Op.cit., pp. 168-176.

28 Coleman, Op. cit., p. 168; Jedin, , Op. cit., IV, 1, 76-93.

29 Coleman, Op. cit., p. 170; See also, p. 135; Jedin, Op. cit., IV, 1, 76-93.

30 Coleman, Op. cit., pp. 168-176; Jedin, Op. cit., IV, 1, 94-263.

31 Jedin, Op. cit., IV, 1, 210-263.

32 Ibid., IV, 2, pp. 37-49.

33 Ibid., IV, 1, 1131; IV, 2, 32

34 Coleman, Op. cit., p. 169.

35 Coleman, Op. cit., pp. 169-176.

36 Jedin, Op. cit., IV, 1, 2, passim.

37 Coleman, Op. cit., p. 173, pp. 166-176; Jedin, Op. cit., IV, 2, 29-189.

38 Coleman, Op. cit., pp. 177-180.

39 Coleman, Op. cit. 176.

40 Jedin, Op. cit., IV, 2, 121-139.

41 Letter to the superiors of the Society, Rome, August 10, 1560, in Epistolae et acta Patris Jacobi Lainii secundi praepositi generalis Societatis Jesu ex autographis vel originalibus exemplis potissimum deprompta a patribus ejusdem Societatis edita, vol. 5, 1560–1561 (Madrid: G. López del Horno, 1915), 165–67, here 165.

42 W.V. Bangert, W.V., Storia della Compagnia di Gesù (Marietti, 1990), p. 342.

43 For the grace-free will discussion, see Rao, Op. cit., pp. 361-367.

44 For the whole of the following discussion, including its Spanish application, See Rao, Op. cit., pp. 313-389.

45 For all of the following, see Rao, Op. cit., pp. 390-631.

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