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Gaspar Contarini

1483-1542. Venetian ambassador and cardinal. After an education at Padua appropriate to his noble birth, he became in 1521 ambassador of the republic of Venice to Charles V. Later he also served in Spain, England, and Rome. A fruit of this activity was his De Magistratibus et Republica Venetorum. His general integrity (in part the result of his adoption of the New Learning) led to Pope Paul III's making him a cardinal in 1535, even though he was a layman. He had previously, however, shown himself to be a competent theologian in his defense of the immortality of the soul (1516) and in his treatise against Luther (1530). He favored reform within the church and for this reason was put on the commission set up by Paul III to suggest reforms. His proposals made in 1537, entitled Consilium de emendanda ecclesia, were too radical for many, and the book was put on the Index* in 1539. Prior to this he became bishop of Belluno. In 1541 he attended the Diet and Conference of Ratisbon where he made a valiant attempt to bring back the Lutheran movement into the church. Also he composed a treatise on Justification which, in the opinion of other Roman Catholics, went too far towards the Protestant doctrine. He died while serving as a legate at Bologna, at a time when the Inquisition* was beginning to make life difficult for reforming Catholics.