Polishing the Papal image in the Counter-Reformation: The case of Agostino Steuco

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History and Philosophy


Agostino Steuco (d. 1548) pleased Pope Paul III when he agreed to participate in the Council of Trent. Steuco was a forceful proponent of a papacy possessing temporal power and revenues for the sake of the church's spirituality. He believed that the papacy needed temporal power in order to withstand the aggression of kings and princes. Furthermore, the papacy required the ability to finance the sacred ceremonies and other forms and institutions of Catholic piety because those ceremonies, forms, and institutions attracted human beings to religion and stabilized society and civic relationships. Steuco's ideas coincided with humanist notions about the origin of societies and human nature; if the papacy were stripped of temporal power and revenues, sedition, immorality, and social disintegration would characterize the world. [Article abstract]

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