BackContentsNext

CAJETAN, ca'j-tan or caj'e-tan, THOMAS: Italian cardinal; b. at Gaeta Feb. 20, 1469; d. at Rome Aug. 9, 1534. His real name was Jacopo Vio, he took the monastic name Thomas, and his surname is from his birthplace. At the age of fifteen he entered the Dominican order, and, devoting himself to studies in the Thomist philosophy, became, before he was thirty, one of its noted teachers; he was made general procurator in 1507 and general a year later. Faithful, to the traditions of the Dominicans, he appears in 1511 as a supporter of the pope against the claims of the Council of Pisa, composing in defense of his position the Tractatus de Comparatione auctoritatis Pape et conciliorum ad invicem. At the Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17) which Julius II. set up in opposition to that of Pisa, Cajetan played the leading rle; and it was he who during the second session of the council brought about the decree recognizing the infallibility of the pope and the superiority of his authority to that of the council. For his services Leo X. made him in 1517 cardinal presbyter of Saint Sisto, Rome, and bestowed on him in the following year the bishopric of Palermo. This he resigned in 1519 to take the bishopric of Gaeta granted him by the emperor Charles V., for whose election Cajetan had labored zealously. In 1518 he was sent as legate to the Diet of Augsburg and to him, at the wish of the Saxon elector, was entrusted the task of examining and testing the teachings of Luther. Treatises of his own, written, without knowledge of Luther's theses, in 1517 show that Luther was justified in his assertion that on the doctrine of dispensation the Church had as yet arrived at no firmly established position; the doctrine of confession Cajetan seemed also to regard as a subject open to controversy. Yet more than investigator and thinker he was politician and prelate, and his appearance at Augsburg in all the splendor of ecclesiastical pomp only served to reveal him to Luther as the type of Roman curialist, hateful to Germans and German Christianity. Cajetan was active in furthering the election of Adrian VI., retained influence under Clement VII., suffered a short term of imprisonment after the storming of Rome by the Constable of Bourbon and by Frundsberg (1527), retired to his bishopric for a few years, and, returning to Rome in 1530, assumed his old position of influence about the person of Clement, in whose behalf he wrote the decision rejecting the appeal for divorce from Catharine of Aragon made by Henry VIII. of England (March 23,1534; printed in Records of the Reformation, ed. N. Power, Oxford, 2 vols., 1870, ii. 532-533). Of the Reformation he remained a steadfast opponent, composing several works directed against Luther, and taking an important share in shaping the policy of the papal delegates in Germany. 1 Learned though he was in the scholastics, he recognized that to fight the Reformers with some chance of success a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures than he possessed was necessary. To this study he devoted himself with characteristic zeal, wrote commentaries on the greater part of the Old and the New Testament, and, in the exposition of his text, which he treated critically, allowed himself considerable latitude in departing from the literal and traditional interpretation. In the very field of Thomist philosophy he showed striking independence of judgment, expressing liberal views on marriage and divorce, denying the existence of a material hell and advocating the celebration of public prayers in the vernacular. The Sorbonne found some of these views heterodox, and in the

339

1570 edition of his celebrated commentary on the Summa of Thomas Aquinas (counted among the best; new ed., Lierre, 1892 sqq.) the objectionable passages were expunged. A complete edition of his works with life appeared in five volumes at Lyons, 1639.

(T. KOLDE.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Besides the Life prefixed to his works, consult: R. Simon, Histoire critique du Vieux Testament, p. 319, Rotterdam, 1678; idem, Histoire des principaux commentateurs du N. T., p. 537, 1639; C. F. Jger, in ZHT, 1858, p. 431.


1 [Cajetan bore witness to Luther's ability when he exclaimed, "Ego nolo amplius cum hac bestia colloqui: habet enim profundos oculos et mirabiles speculationes in capite suo." (I do not want to have any further parley with that beast; for he has sharp eyes and wonderful speculations in his head.)]

BackContentsNext


CCEL home page
This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at
Calvin College. Last modified on 05/10/04. Contact the CCEL.
Calvin seal: My heart I offer you O Lord, promptly and sincerely