Spinola, Christopher Rojas De

Spinola, Christopher Rojas De a Roman Catholic unionist of the 17th century, was general of the Order of Franciscans in Madrid, then confessor of the empress Theresa (wife of Leopold I) of Austria, and finally bishop of Wiener Neustadt. He died March 12, 1695. He was a skilful diplomatist rather than a great theologian, and as such devoted years of zealous effort to the task of winning back the Protestants, more particularly the Protestants of Hungary and Germany, to the Romish Church. The period seemed favorable for such an undertaking, because many of the courts of Protestant Germany were swayed by a spirit of indifference to religion, while among the people many of the more intelligent were weary of the incessant polemical encounters of theological zealots in every department of the Church. Spinola believed that peaceful negotiation might accomplish what violent measures had failed to effect; and in 1671, after conference with the papal nuncio and authorization by the emperor, he approached different princes and rulers with his plans, which were received with some consideration by reason of the emperor's endorsement, but also with much distrust. He found a most favorable reception in Hanover, whose rulers were Roman Catholics, and whose leading theologian, Molanus (q.v.), and leading philosopher, Leibnitz (q.v.), were both inclined to favor the proposed union. In 1683 Spinola personally offered the following concessions, which, however, were not in writing the communion under both kinds; marriage for priests, and non alienation of spiritual properties which had been secularized; suspension of the decrees of Trent, and consent that the "Neo-Catholics" should not be obliged to make formal retraction, and that they should be admitted to participation in a general council, for which provision was to be made. In return, the Protestants were to acknowledge the supremacy of the pope. Molanus thereupon convened a conference of theologians, which drew up a memorial in response to Spinola (Oeuvres de Bossuet [ed. Versailles], 25, 205, Reguloe circa Christianorum Omnium Ecclesiasticam Reunionem), and which put forth a further tractate, in the main acceding to Spinola's proposition (Methodus Reducendoe Unionis Ecclesiastes inter Romanos et Protestantes). Fortunately no considerable interest in the business was taken by either Church. Bossuet, for example, politely received the papers which were transmitted to him, and then ignored their existence; and when subsequently Leibnitz and Molanus corresponded with him in reference to the subject, he plainly rejected Spinola's terms, and demanded unconditional submission to the pope and the Tridentine Council. The landgrave Ernest of Hesse-Rheinfels, on the other hand, asserted that the sole purpose of the movement was to compromise certain princes and theologians with their own party. Negotiations were nevertheless carried on until 1694, and Spinola was made commissioner-general in charge of the union movement throughout the empire. He retained his hopes of success to the last, but died without having achieved any success whatever. His successor, bishop Graf of Buchheim, renewed the inquiry at the court of Hanover with respect to a possible unification of the churches, and Leibnitz repeated his endeavor to achieve a satisfactory result through the cooperation of Bossuet (1699- 1701), but in vain. See Gieseler, Kirchengesch. 4, 177-181; Hering, Gesch. d. kirchl. Unionsversuche (1838); Zedlitz, Universal-Lexikon, s.v.; the art. Leibnitz u. d. Kirchenvereinagung in the Grenzboten, 1860, Nos. 44 and 45.

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