The Catholic Reformation
The Catholic Reformation started as an intellectual force against Protestantism. The thoughts of reformation of the Catholic Church had existed long before Luther came, however, no drastic steps were undertaken. The Catholic Reformation was a political, religious, cultural, and intellectual upsurge across the whole Catholic Europe which determined beliefs and structures of the modern countries.
During the Renaissance period, the society started changing rapidly. On the other hand, the Catholic Church could not respond to these changes systematically as it was too slow to recognize the innovations of Luther. The Church was over-intrusive into the political and social life, taking too much responsibility and does not remain any more just a religious institutions which was called for to promote people’s faith. Moreover, the feeling of sanctity of the Church was disappearing, and the trust of people was lost, giving way to the scare in front of this powerful unit which overtook the rights of the judge (Hitchcock, 2001).
The catholic clergy was extremely wealthy and powerful at that time, and many people did not approve it, referring to the belief that the religious persons should lead comparatively ascetic way of life and serve the God. Moreover, the Church made religion superstitious, formalistic, encouraging people to believe that by performing a set of pre-determined rituals without paying too much attention to personal concerns and needs, they can live in harmony with the God. The reformers of the late medieval period wanted more personal approach to religion. By 1500, it was clear for the majority of reasonable people that there was an urge for reform (The Reformation, n.d.).
The Catholic Reformation reaffirmed all practices and discussed doctrines. The steps to counter the existing superstitions were made, though still catechizing. The efforts to change the Church’s structures were applied, in order to make it more spiritual entity in the core (Hitchcock, 2001).
During the period of eighteen years (from 1545 till 1563), the Council of Trent articulated the answers of the Church to the public which were supposed to solve the problems and trigger the Reformation. This Council changed a lot of negative sides of the Church: the disciplined became much better, the parish was improved, and the organization of all religious institutions was more effective. Bishops did not meet for solving political issues anymore, and if some did, it was highly disapproved (The Reformation, 2011).
The main achievement of the Catholic Reformation was the spiritual, educative, and literate Church and, therefore, the whole nations who closely depended on it. New religious orders (for example, Jesuits) combined intellectualism with spirituality. Spanish and Roman inquisitions were reorganized in order to fight away the dangers of Protestant heresy (The Reformation, 2011).
With changes in the religious system came changes of the political sector. In Northern Europe, for instance, many blood-shedding persecutions and rebellions arose: 40 percent of the whole German population was lost in the Thirty Years’ War. However, the positive sides of the Reformation were obvious: Cultural and intellectual flourishing took over, marking a new era for many countries (Sproul, n.d.). Nowadays, we cannot say that this Reformation if over, as the Church still tries to influence the way of development of the whole society, fostering constant fights between different religious minorities. The sooner the Church will start act only on spirituality and morality, the better for all people.
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