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Voices of ConscienceRoyal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France$
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Nicole Reinhardt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198703686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703686.001.0001

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The Confessor’s Paradox

The Confessor’s Paradox

(p.282) 13 The Confessor’s Paradox
Voices of Conscience

Nicole Reinhardt

Oxford University Press

The trilogy on the models for confessors concludes with an analysis of a treatise of advice dedicated in 1686 to the Spanish royal confessor Tomás Carbonell following his disgrace due to factional struggles. Probably written by the Aragonese Carmelite José Capero, it moves the discussion from prophecy to the lessons to be drawn from ecclesiastical history. An in-depth examination of the treatise reveals the author’s engagement with the revived interest in the sources of ancient and medieval ecclesiastical history and a rejection of scholasticism and probabilism as foundations of truthful counsel. The new focus insists on the essentially antagonistic relationship between secular and spiritual power, profoundly transforming the confessor’s role from a counsellor of conscience to a defender of ecclesiastical liberty, privileging clerical authority over moral theological expertise. The treatise moreover suggests a still enigmatic circulation in Spain of prime examples of contemporary positive theology of French provenance.

Keywords:   Andrés Capero, Tomás Carbonell, ecclesiastical history, positive theology, Gallicanism, ecclesiastical liberty, conference of Vincennes, Carmelites

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