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What reforms Pope introduced in Papal office is quiet interesting. Alessandro Farnese, elected pope in 1534 as Paul III, seems likely to prolong the worst aspects of the Renaissance papacy. He was appointed cardinal at the age of twenty-five because his sister Giulia was having an affair with the Borghese Pope, Alexander VI. While a cardinal, he kept a mistress in Rome by whom he had four children. As Pope, he outdoes many of his predecessors in the favors he heaps upon his family. He detaches Parma and Piacenza provinces from the Papal States and turns them into hereditary duchies for his eldest son. Two of his grandsons are in their teens when he creates them cardinals.
Yet, as it turns out this is the Pope who launches the Catholic Reformation!
Two details in particular during Paul's pontificate, signal the start of the Catholic Reformation (also often known as the Counter-Reformation, being the church's response to the Protestant reformers). One is Paul's convening of the Council of Trent in 1545. He achieves this after several attempts and against considerable opposition.
The other great innovation of his reign is more of a God-given accident than any result of papal initiative. Paul is visited in Rome in 1537 by a group of passionately committed students from the University of Paris. Headed by Ignatius of Loyola, they offer their services directly to the pope. These students were deeply impressed by the work of St. Peter at Rome and their youthful minds, notwithstanding other excesses, decide to support him probably because that was best suited to them. Pope also wanted something like this to come up to create his image in the pontificate.
Society of Jesus: 1540-1541
The visit to the pope by Ignatius Loyola has echoes of St Francis and St Dominic with Innocent III. It was history repeats. Unlike those 13th-century saints, with their mission to live and preach among the poor of the expanding towns, St Ignatius is very much of his own time - a man of the 16th century. Where the twin challenge is the drift of much of Europe into the Protestant heresy and the opening up of a far-flung pagan world, bringing fruitful fields for mission work in this new age of ocean travel and exploration. Members of Society of Jesus were, as it were, carrying 'key to Heaven', that is supposed to give Pope the higher authority over other Bishops in Christian world. Ignatius Loyola's inner aim appears to be that, to get hold of that key.
To these challenges, Ignatius can bring the energy and the organizing skills of a trained soldier. Offered a force of spiritual commandos, answerable directly to his person only in fighting Rome's battles, Paul III seizes his chance. In September 1540, he authorizes a new order, to be known as the 'Society of Jesus'. In April 1541 Ignatius's colleagues elect him as the first general; the title, in use to this day, accurately reflects the nature of the campaign being undertaken.
Ignatius writes simple rules for his order. There is to be no specific form of dress, no regular commitment to attend particular services. Jesuits, as they soon come to be called, are to be free to move fast wherever they are needed. Obedience to the pope is central. Jesuit theologians are already at the pope's side during the Council of Trent.
Many priests joined this force and moved all over the world to convert people to Christianity. Other indulged in serving poor people by giving them succor, still others engaged in spreading education to people and still others engaged in medical care and many more were busy managing orphanage, old homes, disabled homes and many such activities; resulting in improving image of Church all over. Many notable Jesuits are revered today all over the world; one name is that of Mother Teresa. This innovation in the Church worked for the cause of Jesus but their aim was not of teaching righteousness but they wanted to use the goodwill they earn by these activities to convert people to Christianity belonging to Roman Catholic Church. This became obvious when people receiving benefits from their services refused to convert to Christianity of Church, the same so-called humble servants of Jesus turned into vicious people treating those who refused very badly.
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