Tomasso de Vio (1469-1534), later known as Cardinal Cajetan, was a well-respected philosopher and theologian who became progressively more enmeshed in the religious and political turmoil of the sixteenth century. He struggled to understand the thrust of Luther's new way of thinking and to bring the Church to deal with the challenge of radical reform in all aspects of Church life. Some of the changes which the Cardinal recommended to several of the popes he served seemed as revolutionary in his own day as they would in the present. Gradually his perception of the Church as an inclusive rather than an exclusive community evolved.
This essay is not intended to be the last word on Cardinal Cajetan's role in the emerging Reformation. Rather, it tries to trace Cajetan's efforts to understand the personalities and forces which both propelled and resisted the unavoidable crisis. He explored every way conceivable to keep the Church intact: in its governance, in its doctrine and discipline, and in its tolerance of error and confusion. Cajetan may well have failed in most of his initiatives, but he stands as a persuasive example of the Church's need at all times for courageous intellectual witnesses, not afraid to think through the roots of the Church's predicament and the solutions it ought to examine.
Providence College Press