Among them were Cardinals Gasparo Contarini(1483-1542), Giovanni Pietro Carafa, Jacopo Sadoleto, and Reginald Pole. These "Italian evangelicals" proposed to reform the Catholic church through a spiritual renewal and internalisation of faith by each individual. Intense study of scripture and justification by faith were seen as the means to that end. The Spirituali took many of their ideas from older Catholic texts but they were certainly inspired by the Protestant Reformation, especially Calvinism. The most notable expression of Spirituali doctrine was the Beneficio di Cristo, written in a first version by the Benedictine monk Benedetto Fontanini 1543 and later revised by the poet and humanist Marcantonio Flaminio.
However, although Spirituali occupied positions of high power within the church hierarchy, they failed to achieve much change and more "fundamentalist" currents, such as the Jesuits, set the church on a course of confrontation with the Protestants at the Council of Trent. It has been speculated that the Spirituali's lack of success stemmed from their hope for Church reform without a challenge to Catholic authority; that is to say, for a peaceful renewal from within. This made them suspect to both Protestants and conservative Catholics and made the movement ineffective.