Revisiting sacred propaganda: the Holy Bishop in the seventeenth-century Jansenist quarrel
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Forrestal, Alison. (2004). Revisiting Sacred Propaganda: The Holy Bishop in the Seventeenth-Century Jansenist Quarrel. Reformation & Renaissance Review, 6(1), 7-35. doi: 10.1558/rarr.188.8.131.52508
In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, prelates such as Borromeo of Milan and de Sales of Geneva, began to reinvigorate this hierarchical office, offering models of episcopal government, discipline and pastorate for other prelates to adopt throughout the Catholic ‘Reformation’ church. This article examines a central aspect of this formation: the ways in which the episcopal office could become a weapon in profound theological conflicts over grace, salvation, morality and ecclesiology. In mid-seventeenth-century France, the militant protagonists in the internationally notorious Jansenist conflict used controversial models and theories of episcopacy to defend their own views of morality and doctrine and to condemn their opponents as disobedient traitors of saintly and revered ‘bishops’, including ancients such as Augustine and the Apostles, and near contemporaries such as the famous Borromeo and de Sales. Their adaptation and manipulation of episcopacy highlights the profound dangers that the Catholic church encountered when its members sought to resurrect and energize the office of bishop within the powerful religious and political movement for Catholic reform.