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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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Royal Confessors as Counsellors: Role and Expertise

Royal Confessors as Counsellors: Role and Expertise

(p.67) 3 Royal Confessors as Counsellors: Role and Expertise
Voices of Conscience

Nicole Reinhardt

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the emergence of royal confessors as political counsellors was supported by Botero’s understanding of reason of state. It examines the role model Cardinal Bellarmine sketched out for royal confessors which insisted that confessors had to address the sins of the monarch’s public persona in the first place and pitched them as ideal counsellors against the inadequate counsel provided by flatterers and courtiers. In a second step it analyses how Counter-Reformation moral theology, developed to increase and improve the standards of pastoral care through confession, also provided sophisticated expertise for counselling more widely. The development of the new method of ‘probabilism’ from the late sixteenth century onwards is understood to have been as a particularly qualifying tool that distinguished trained moral theologians in the business of evaluating opinions, which helped to dispel doubt and uncertainty in the process of counselling.

Keywords:   moral theology, Cardinal Bellarmine, probabilism, confession, casuistry, Council of  Trent, Jesuits, Dominicans

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