Exemplary bishops of Catholic Reform: Their ordination as priests

Patrick H. Daly

We continue the series of articles about the ordination day of priests whose lives shaped the history of the Church in the context of the Year of Priests, launched in June 2018 by Archbishop Bernard Longley. Patrick H. Daly, parish priest of Our Lady & St. Anne, Birmingham Diocese, considers the priestly ordination of the two great bishops who set the pastoral tone of the Catholic (Counter) Reformation.

In the half-century which followed the Council of Trent (1545–1563), as the Catholic Church pushed forward its own programme of reform in a concerted attempt to tame the forces of unrest unleashed by the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Pontiffs rushed to populate the niches of the Catholic pantheon with a series of new saints. Some (e.g. Ignatius of Loyola; Philip Neri; Cajetan) were founders of new religious orders, others (e.g. Theresa of Avila) were reformers of older established ones. Some were those in the vanguard of the struggle against Protestantism. In the case where they were bishops, in their person and in their understanding of the ministry the Church had invited them to fulfil, some were so exemplary in their day that they became the template for episcopal virtue not only in the immediate aftermath to Trent but were still seen as ideal bishops right up until Vatican II. The most prominent among these bishops were Charles Borromeo and Francis de Sales.

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