Congregatio de Auxiliis

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The controversies of the Reformation period concerning the operation of God's grace and man's free will, predestination and the many issues that the Council of Trent's Decree on Justification left unsettled forced the subject of the relation between grace and free will on the attention of Catholic theologians of the 16th century. In the years following the council there gradually emerged two opposed explanations of this relationship, one championed by the Dominicans and the other by the Jesuits. The Congregatio was a Roman commission established by the pope then reigning, Clement VIII, to examine the orthodoxy of each opinion and to reconcile both parties involved in the dispute. The theological presupposition common to both schools of thought was the absolute, infallible efficacy of the grace or divine help, necessary to effect the meritorious act or the good act. The center of the dispute, God's grace (auxilium ), gave the name to the controversy; hence the term, the de auxiliis controversy. The point of the controversy crystallized around the question as to whether this infallible efficacy of grace is due to the very nature of the grace itself or to God's eternal knowledge of the use each man would make of all possible graces. The course of the debate and the work of the Roman commission can be described in an account of the events that took place in Spain, Portugal and finally Rome itself.

Spain (1582). The controversy is considered to have begun officially during a dispute in Salamanca, on Jan. 20, 1582, when Prudencio de Montmayor, SJ, denied the Dominican teaching of a divine grace, received in the soul, that predetermines the will to the performance of a particular virtuous action (physical predetermination), on the grounds that it is irreconcilable with human liberty. He was joined in his position by Luis de León, OESA, Juan de Castaneda, OSB, and Miguel Marcos, SJ, but was vigorously attacked by the Dominican Domingo Báñez. On the basis of a report from the Dominicans, the Spanish Grand Inquisitor, Gaspar de Quiroga, prohibited the further teaching of the reported 16 theses in which De Mont-mayor's position was contained.

The phase of the controversy occurring at the University of Louvain, Belgium, during 158788 is here omitted since Portugal and Spain were the centers of attention in the dispute and the two discussions merged into one.

Portugal (1589). On Dec. 22, 1588, the printing of the Jesuit Luis de Molina's Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis was halted; this had been ordered by the censor of the Inquisition, Bartholomaeus Ferreira, OP, who suspected that the 16 theses condemned at Salamanca were contained in the Concordia. The Portuguese Grand Inquisitor, Cardinal Alberto, had the list of the 16 propositions sent from Spain and commissioned Maestro Francisco Cano to examine the Concordia in the light of these theses. The examination proved unfavorable to the work, and in March 1589 Molina received two censures, one from Cano stating that the Concordia contained eight of the propositions already condemned in Castile, the other probably from the Dominicans objecting to 17 more points. In answer to these censures Molina protested in a memorandum to Cardinal Alberto that his work did not contain these propositions. Consequently, Alberto declared the Concordia free of error in July of 1589. In the following September, Molina had a slightly revised draft of his memorandum published as an Appendix ad Concordiam.

Spain (159397). In May of 1590 the Inquisition of Castile commissioned the Universities of Alcalá and Salamanca to prepare a new index of forbidden books and in doing so to examine all works that had appeared since 1583. In 1593 Molina learned that all his writings, including the Concordia and his commentary on the Prima pars of St. Thomas's Summa theologiae, published in 1592, were being investigated in Salamanca. As a precaution against his chief opponents, Domingo Báñez and Francisco Zumel, Dominican professors at the university, Molina sent the Grand Inquisitor Quiroga a report, in December of 1593, in which he charged both Báñez and Zumel with Lutheranism. This was followed in May of 1594 with a list of their heresies and in June of that year with charges against Zumel's recently published commentary on the Summa. The Inquisitor halted the University of Salamanca's proceedings against Molina and ordered it to submit to the Inquisition the material discussed, as well as the writings of Báñez and Zumel. To aggravate this confusion, Henriquez, the only Jesuit at Salamanca, presented the Inquisition with his own censure of Molina's Concordia. Further publicity was given the controversy through the Proceedings in Valladolid (1594). Here, Diego Nuno Calbezudo, OP, had attacked Molina's Concordia in the spring of 1594. The Jesuit Antonio de Padilla replied to this attack by a defense of six theses from the Concordia in a public disputation. On March 28 he followed up this defense with a memorandum to the Inquisition, while Calbezudo on June 7, 1594, gave it a censure of 22 of Molina's propositions. The papal nuncio advised the cardinal secretary of state that the pope reserve the controversy's settlement to himself. On June 28, 1594, the papal secretary of state answered that Rome would reserve the dispute to itself. The Inquisition was directed to forward all documents to Rome; both orders were to send their opinions in writing to the Holy See. On July 21, 1594, Quiroga requested the Universities of Salamanca, Alcalá and Siguenza, as well as 13 bishops and eight doctors of theology, for their opinions of Molina's Concordia. One year later, on June 22, 1595, the University of Salamanca completed a censure of nine propositions of Molina. Paradoxically, in that same year the second revised edition of the Concordia appeared in Antwerp. In their own behalf, the Dominicans formulated between July of 1594 and September of 1595 the Apologia fratrum praedicatorum. To the Inquisition the Jesuits on their part remitted seven written defenses. By the fall of 1597 these documents had been collected and forwarded to Rome.

The Roman Commission (15971601). In November of 1597 Clement VIII appointed a commission consisting of two cardinals, three bishops and five theologians to examine the Concordia and Molina's commentary on the Summa. The commission, after 11 sessions, was convinced that Molina's mode of reconciling divine grace and human liberty was novel, expressly contrary to the teachings of Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and a censure was drawn up with a view to prohibiting the teaching of the Concordia and expurgating several points from the commentary. In the very month that the commission brought its censure to Clement, March of 1598, the last of the documents requested from Spain arrived. In these circumstances, the Concordia could not be condemned without taking into account the previous examinations of which it had been the object; the pope ordered the commission to reevaluate its decision in the light of the new sources. However, far from revising their decision, the members of the papal commission, after a rapid reading of the massive documentation, maintained their decision to condemn the Concordia. Report of the commission's decision caused consternation in Spain; the Jesuits appealed to the pope not to condemn Molina without first having heard him. Many influential friends of the society, including King Philip III, are said to have intervened on his behalf. At such insistence, the pope agreed to alter the procedure by substituting friendly colloquia with the express purpose of reconciling the Dominicans and the Jesuits in their differences over actual grace. Four such conferences only proved the irreducibility of the positions taken by the two orders.

With the breakdown of the colloquia, the pope on April 13, 1600, ordered the commission, which was still working, to prepare a shorter list of the condemned propositions; the same day Molina died at Madrid amid reports that he had been condemned as a heretic and his books burned at Rome. But the appeal of the Jesuits against what seemed imminent condemnation of the 20 propositions as well as the defense of the Concordia by the Carmelite Antonio Bovius prompted the pope to order an oral defense of the theses still condemned before the full commission. In 15 sessions from Jan. 25 to May 7, 1601, the 20 propositions were fully debated. After 21 more sessions the commission decided eight to two to recommend the condemnation of the propositions. On Oct. 24, 1601, the pope instructed the commission to undertake the final editing of the condemnation without the assistance of Bovius and Piombino (regent of the Carmelite College, a defender of the Jesuits, as was Bovius). This was accomplished in ten more sessions without essential change and approved by the commission on Nov. 19, 1601; the pope received it on Dec. 12, 1601.

But once again the pope hesitated to make the final decision. He was besieged by the intercessions of nobles. Several universities condemned the Dominican teaching on physical premotion and defended Molina; they asked that before condemning him, the theologians of northern Europe be heard.

The Papal Disputations (160206). To resolve the impasse, the pope decided to convene the commission in his presence and have the theologians of both orders debate the issues. The commissions eventually consisted of 15 cardinals, five bishops and the seven theologians who had been working with the commission through the earlier stages of the debate. The disputing parties were represented by their superiors general and theologians from each order: for the Dominicans, Diego Alvarez and Thomas de León spoke; while the Jesuits countered with Gregory of Valencia, Pedro de Arrubal and Ferdinand de la Bastida. The debates began on March 20, 1602. Clement had indicated his desire to hear the comparison of Molina's teaching to that of St. Augustine. He had two questions. (1) Does St. Augustine or Molina give more power to free will? (2) Does one read in Augustine's works or is it in his thought that God has established with Christ the infallible law that every time man does what he is able, God will give him His grace? On the first question, seven propositions of Molina concerning human freedom were to be compared with the teaching of Augustine and were disputed in debates two to eight; the decision of the consultors was that Molina's propositions were irreconcilable with Augustine's teaching. The second question discussed in the ninth debate resulted in the consultors voting that the law of grace mentioned there could not be found in Augustine. Fourteen more propositions of Molina were then examined to test their agreement with the teachings of the Semi-Pelagian John Cassian. These were disputed in debates 9 to 18 with the consultors finding agreement between the teachings of Molina and Cassian. Next, the discussion centered on Molina's teaching on repentance and its agreement with the Council of Trent. This was debated in the 19th session, and the decision of the consultors again was against Molina. The ensuing debates from June 23, 1603, to Jan. 21, 1605, were concerned with the essence and first principle of the supernaturality of the virtuous act (debates 20 to 33); the problem of God's mediate knowledge, scientia media (34 to 36); predestination (37); and the origin of the right use of actual grace (38). On all points the votes of the consultors were against Molina. Then Molina's Concordia was thoroughly debated. However, on March 4, 1605, Clement died without having promulgated a decision.

After the brief pontificate of Leo XI (April 124, 1605), Paul V was elected pope (May 16, 1605). As a cardinal he had attended all the previous debates and on Sept. 14, 1605, he had them resumed. In debates 39 to 47 (Sept. 20, 1605 to Feb. 22, 1606) the Dominican teaching on grace of itself efficacious (gratia ex se efficax ) was debated. The consultors decided that efficacious grace could be described as physice determinans, that the teaching of both Augustine and Thomas supported gratia ex se efficax, and that this teaching had nothing to do with Calvinism. The last session took place on March 1, 1606, ending the wearying 85 sessions and 47 debates. The remainder of 1606 was taken up with the pope's obtaining the decision of the consultors, first each consultor's separate vote and then the commission's common vote. The result was that the majority of the consultors recommended the condemnation of the 42 propositions of Molina.

The Decision (1607). On the feast of St. Augustine, Aug. 28, 1607, the pope convened the cardinal consultors at the Quirinal. Of the eight cardinals present only the Dominican Bernerius declared that it was necessary to condemn the 42 propositions of Molina; two others, Givry and Blanchette, favored the Dominican position but thought that a condemnation would be premature; while Bellarmine and Du Perron thought that the physical predetermination was Calvinistic. Paul then declared that the Dominican position was far from Calvinistic and that the Jesuits in their views were not Pelagians. Both orders were allowed to defend their own teachings, but were enjoined not to censure or condemn the opposite opinion and were commanded to await the final decision of the Holy See. No decision on the matter has yet been made. With a view to restoring harmony between Dominicans and Jesuits, Paul, by a decree of the Inquisition in 1611, forbade the publication of books on the subject of efficacious grace without the authority of the Holy See. Pope Urban VIII, by decrees of 1625 and 1641, sustained this prohibition and added penalties to it; Innocent X did the same in 1654.

See Also: bÁÑez and baÑezianism; molina, luis de; molinism; congruism; free will and grace; grace, controversies on; grace, efficacious; omniscience; grace, articles on; predestination, articles on.

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Congregatio de Auxiliis

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