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The role of Gian Pietro Carafa in the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Inquisition

A recent study of Gian Pietro Carafa's diplomatic career reconsidered the influence he had over the Roman Catholic Church, especially regarding the Catholic Reformation and Counter Reformation.
The role of Gian Pietro Carafa in the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Inquisition
The EU-funded project CARAFAMCP (The origins of the Roman Inquisition reconsidered: The diplomatic career of Gian Pietro Carafa in England and Spain (1513-19)) was set up to review available knowledge on his early career, before he became Pope Paul IV in 1555.

Unpublished material was discovered in Madrid and together with the re-evaluation of existing sources the project was able to shed new light on Carafa's vocation. The study's goal was to show the continuity of Carafa's character, rather than a watershed between the periods of Counter Reformation and the Catholic Reform.

Reconstructing the path that brought him to the Holy Office of the Inquisition, the research highlights key moments of his career. Carafa's initial ecclesiastic activities were linked to his later Inquisitorial undertakings, showing that his main goal was the preservation of the dignity, rules and hierarchies of the Holy See.

In his infamous Memorial to the pope of 1532, Carafa reflected on how corruption and the loss of Christian values would accentuate heresy among the faithful. His proposed solutions were discouraged at first, due to his criticism of the Pope and those in his environment. In 1542 he was named Prefect of the new Congregation of the Holy Office, after which most of the scenarios he envisaged in his Memorial took place.

From his new position, Carafa was able to put his ideas into action and complete his rise through the ecclesiastical hierarchy, empowering the Congregation’s influence over the shape of Catholic Reform.

The Inquisition's power grew, until it became the head of the Church hierarchy, many members of whom later became Popes. This came as a result of Carafa's strategy to tackle the religious crisis.

Project work gives insight into a part of history of the Roman Catholic Church and also on the censorship and persecution from that era. The research findings demonstrate that the origins of the Catholic Reform go back to the 1510s.

Throughout the project's life cycle, dissemination included five research papers, a bibliography and a dictionary article. Several workshops and conferences were also organised in Belgium, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Carafa's biography will have great significance for the research topics of the Counter Reformation and Catholic Reformation.

Related information


Carafa, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Inquisition, Catholic Reformation, Counter Reformation, Pope
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