Cardinal and diplomat, prominent in Catholic reform, president of the Council of Trent; b. Milan, Jan. 25, 1509; d. Rome, Dec. 1, 1580. As son of the Chancellor of Milan, Girolamo, he came in early contact with the court of Pope Clement VII, who appointed him bishop of Modena in 1529. In the following years he was strongly influenced by the spirituality of the reforming group around Reginald pole, Marcantonio Flaminio, and Gasparo contarini. Pope Paul III sent him as nuncio to Germany in 1536. While there he advocated discussions by Catholic (Johann faber, Albert pigge, Johannes cochlaeus) and Protestant theologians as a preliminary step toward a general council. At the time of the Regensburg religious conference (1541), he was persuaded by the Cardinal Legate Contarini to adopt a conciliatory tone in his negotiation with the Protestants. In a lengthy memorandum submitted to the pope he related the failure of the conference and the largely negative experiences with the German episcopate. This led to a reform directed immediately from Rome. Morone himself brought the first Jesuits to Germany upon his return northward in 1542. As newly created cardinal he was sent as legate to the Council of trent, together with Cardinals Pole and Pietro Paolo Parisio in 1542. When the opening of the council was postponed, Paul entrusted him with the legation in Bologna (papal governor in the Romagna).
Little known but very important are Morone's activities regarding the reunion of the English Church. From 1553 to 1555, at the request of Julius III, he studied the problems related to the English mission of Cardinal Pole. He also paved the way for farseeing solutions in the matter of church lands and of the appointment of bishops. Upon insistence of Charles V and his brother Ferdinand he was sent as legate to the Imperial Diet at Augsburg in 1555. The new pope, Paul IV, did not renew the appointment, however, since he looked upon Morone and Pole as cryptoheretics. In 1556–57 Morone tried to mediate the conflict between the Curia and the House of Hapsburg, but on May 31, 1557, he was seized and imprisoned in the Castel Sant' Angelo on suspicion of heresy. After the pope's death he was immediately freed and fully reinstated. Pope Pius IV at once offered him the post of secretary of state and later, at the reopening of the Council of Trent, considered him his first choice for president of the council. Morone declined both offices. But when the conference had reached a severe crisis in the spring of 1563, he answered the pope's call to help save the work of the council. The great Catholic powers (Spain, France, the Empire) distrusted Rome's willingness to reform and, by following their own aims in Church policy, threatened the autonomy of the council. Again it was Morone who, in Trent as well as at the imperial court in Innsbruck, proved so convincingly the sentiment of the Curia for reform that a positive settlement of the work at Trent with the Catholic powers became possible.
Although repeatedly mentioned as papabile, he always failed to obtain the nomination in view of his record of accusation and imprisonment by the Inquisition. But stamped with the spiritualità of the early Italian reform groups, he never abandoned his innermost convictions. The unusual combination of political insight and deep religiosity made him one of the most striking figures of the post-Tridentine Curia. His concern about the English Catholics prompted him many times to warn against a break with Queen Elizabeth. In Rome he was the most zealous promoter and best judge of her interests. The main part of his work was always concerned with the situation of the Church in Germany: witness the founding of the Collegium Germanicum in Rome (1552), the establishment of a Congregation of Cardinals for Germany, his participation in the Imperial Diet at Regensburg (1576). At the time of the Turkish danger, East European problems occupied his mind. He was especially interested in Russian-Polish relations. The conclusion of the Lepanto League in the Roman conference of 1570–71 was to a large extent a result of his efforts. He succeeded in bringing about at least a temporary compromise between the offensive aims of Spain in the western Mediterranean and the Venetian problems in the eastern Mediterranean. The evidence of his manifold activities for the unity and the religious renewal of Christianity fills many volumes of the Vatican archives. A fitting biography is still lacking.
Bibliography: h. jedin, Krisis und Wendepunkt des Trienter Konzils (Würzburg 1941) v. 1–2. j. grisar, "Die Sendung des Kardinals Morone als Legat zum Reichstag von Augsburg 1555," Zeitschrift des Histor. Vereins für Schwaben 61 (1955): 341–387. h. lutz, Christianitas afflicta: Europa, das Reich und die päpstliche Politik im Niedergang der Hegemonie Kaiser Karls V, 1552–1556 (Göttingen 1964), passim. r. bÄumer, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 10 v. (Freiburg 1957–65) 7:641. w. friedensburg, Nuntiaturberichte aus Deutschland, Abt.1, v. 2 (Gotha 1892). g. constant, La Légation du Cardinal Morone près l'empereur et le concile de Trente, avril-décembre 1563 (Paris 1922).