"in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own sight."
By Fr. Tim Henderson: It must have been very difficult for St. Robert Bellarmine to be the rock solid man that he was. He defended the Church against the Protestant Rebellion when the Protestants could level credible Charges against the priests and bishops of the day. Luther and his theology of corruption must have been difficult for Cardinal Bellarmine to refute when the bishops and priests of the Luther’s day were pretty corrupt, and the Church was only then beginning to come out of its malaise.
Then there is the other side of this: the Church was coming down pretty hard on just about anyone who had a thought that was different from what she was teaching at the time. Galileo Galilei is a much celebrated case, but the Truth is that Cardinal Bellarmine had long since exonerated Galileo Galilei of any wrong doing, much to the surprise of the people trying Galileo in the Ecclesiastical courts.
One of the secondary infections of the Protestant Rebellion was that anyone could believe what they wanted… and did. The Church began its slow and painful disintegration that continues to this day.
St. Paul tells us it was occurring in his day, ‘First of all, I hear that when you meet as a Church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it; there have to be factions among you in order that also those who are approved among you may become known. When you meet in one place, then, it is not to eat the Lord's supper, for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper it is.’
Surface, superficial unity. It occurs to this day…
In the day of St. Robert Bellarmine, people were trying to pull the Church right or left or up or down. St. Robert Bellarmine and men like him, like Pius V, kept it on the straight and narrow, and kept Holy Mother Church from imploding completely. How? Because they preached Truth. Sure people did not like it and people stepped away from the Church. One cannot stop that. But St. Robert Bellarmine spoke the Truth gently and let the chips fall where they may, as Christ Himself did, as the Venerable Pope Paul VI did, as this Church has need to do.
Unity based on superficial things will fail; unity based on falsehood and sin will fail. History has shown us this; Salvation History has shown us this. In the example of St. Robert Bellarmine, we see how we as a Church have need to proceed… St. Robert Bellarmine was not afraid of Truth, and that was ultimately what saved Galileo from being invited to a barbeque when he was tried in ecclesiastical court later on, but St. Robert Bellarmine also stood strong with the Truth, and did not live the lie that everybody’s private version of the truth was okay. He upheld that there is a capital ‘T’ Truth and stood for nothing less.