In the last post of this series—part 1—it was discussed the historical disagreement of Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States, arguing in his esteemed work Common Sense that theologically the ‘anti-monarchical’ passages of scripture had never been addressed—especially by those who supported monarchy as the best form of government. As Illustrated in that particular post, Sacred Scripture has been theologically examined in that light by John Calvin who argued for the supremacy of aristocracy in his Institutes. The synthesis by Calvin was then refuted by Catholic theologian St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine. Bellarmine has been a forgotten man in both history and Catholic circles, so it would be prudent to give a short bio on the man.
St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine lived from 1542-1621. Bellarmine born in the Tuscany region of central Italy. He was a sort of prodigy in his youth that disappointed his father when he decided he had a vocation to the priesthood, as his father desired him to become a lawyer to enhance their family station. In 1560, Bellarmine becomes a Jesuit entering as an initiate. Bellarmine was sent to study at the famed Louvain University in Belgium in 1569—the same place that Ven. Fulton Sheen would attend centuries later; after his studies, he would become a professor of theology at what is now known as the Pontifical Gregorian University. During the course of Bellarmine’s education and professorship, he taught himself both Greek and Hebrew to teach courses on the languages. Bellarmine was so respected by his intellectual prowess that at three separate conclaves he received votes and support to be elected Pope rather than respectively: Pope Leo XI, Pope Paul V, and Pope Gregory XV.
The Institutes, and other arguments of Protestantism, prompted a very lengthy response from St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine called De Controversiis which is a very interesting text because it is a text written for the sole purpose to reject Protestantism by perhaps one of the very few Catholic Churchman who read Protestant works. Ryan Grant, translator of the text explains that it was discovered at the Gregorian institute that Bellarmine “not only had a perfect familiarity with the works of major Protestants, but also had a seemingly photographic memory of the teachings of the Fathers.” The appeal of Bellarmine is the systematic synthesis in response to texts like the Institutes. Bellarmine sets out to respond to objections of Catholic teachings by appealing to Sacred Scripture and concluding with the teachings of the Church Fathers and their understanding of the text.
The text has largely been forgotten even in Catholic circles—especially post-Vatican II—in large part because of its support for the monarchy and the authority of the papacy which is considered to be an abomination to modernity. The issue of the papacy was not addressed at the council of Trent due to political interest; however, Bellarmine’s work does prove that the issue of Papal Supremacy is not one that originates in the 19th century like many conciliar theologians attempt to currently teach Catholics.
All of the considered, De Controversiis is also a controversial text in Catholicism (Well, the folks that know it exists) because it is a text used by Sedevacantist—those who argue there is no validly elected Pope since usually Pope Pius XII—to argue that Popes who commit heresy are no longer Pope. Scholars, even traditional Catholic ones like Ryan Grant, do not agree with this Sedevacantist position on Bellarmine.
Nonetheless, Grant notes that Bellarmine’s work on the Papacy, “not only refutes Protestant teaching, but lays down the theological foundations which would make their way into the definitions of the First Vatican Council[…] Yet today some would think a treatise like this redundant […] however, this work is still valuable […] many Protestants still teach that Rome is the Antichrist, and oppose any dialogue with Catholics.”
 Robert Bellarmine, trans. Ryan Grant, De Controversiis: On The Roman Pontiff Vol. 1 Post Falls: Mediatrix Press, 2017), ii.
 Ibid, iii.