Feast of Gaspar Contarini (October 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Cardinal Contarini

Image in the Public Domain

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GASPAR CONTARINI (OCTOBER 16, 1483-AUGUST 24, 1542)

Italian Roman Catholic Cardinal and Agent of Reconciliation

Also known as Gasparo Contarini

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If we wish to put an end to the Lutheran errors and troubles, we need not muster orations, or subtle arguments:  let us rely on the probity of our lives and a humble spirit, desiring nothing but the good of Christ and our neighbors.

–Gaspar Contarini, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 450

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Cardinal Gaspar(o) Contarini comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg’s book.

Contarini, born in Venice on October 16, 1483, sought to be a reconciler during a time of extremes.  He, from nobility, studied philosophy at the University of Padua.  Our saint became a diplomat in the service of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (King Charles I of Spain), and served as Ambassador to the Papal States.  Prior to and during the Protestant Reformation Contarini opposed ecclesiastical corruption and advocated for reform.  In 1510, for example, our saint published his criticism of worldly bishops.  When the Protestant Reformation had started, Contarini reviewed Protestant teachings and found in them much both to praise and criticize.

Contarini was not afraid to speak truth to power.  In 1529, in person, he urged Pope Clement VII (in office November 19, 1523-September 25, 1534) to focus on ecclesiastical reconciliation, not on temporal power.  Clement VII, born Guilio de Medici, did not accept the counsel.  He, a hardliner, as well as a cousin of the late Pope Leo X (in office 1513-1521), was a Supreme Pontiff of his time, unfortunately.

The next Pope was Paul III (in office October 13, 1534-November 10, 1549), born Alessandro Farnese.  His sister was Guilia, mistress of Pope Alexander VI (in office 1492-1503), born Rodrigo Borgia.  Pope Paul III appointed Contarini, a layman, to the College of Cardinals and assigned him to lead a reform commission.  The commission’s report condemned abuses, including simony and the sale of indulgences.

Contarini’s final effort at ecclesiastical reconciliation was the Regensburg conference (1541), between Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church.  He helped to develop agreement on many points, including justification by faith.  This attempt at finding common ground was so controversial on both sides that it failed.  Paul III replaced Contarini with Cardinal Carlo Carafa, a hardliner who established an inquisition instead.

Contarini died of a fever on August 24, 1542.  He was 58 years old.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

–Matthew 5:9, The New American Bible (2011)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, FATHER OF CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY TO THE FAR EAST

THE FEAST OF NELSON MANDELA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, AND RENEWER OF SOCIETY

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Gaspar(o) Contarini,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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