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Evaluate The Reaction Of The Catholic Church To The Protestant Reformation.

1078 words - 4 pages

The Protestant Reformation was the natural culmination of the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. For centuries before the time of Martin Luther and the period recognized as "The Reformation", clergy and laity alike had complained of the abuses of the Church. Had the Church listened sooner, the abuses could have been rectified, and the protests could have been quelled. Once the Roman Catholic Church realized that something must be done (around the time Luther gained following), the Counter-Reformation came far too late. Certain programs/organizations meant to counter the Protestants lost focus and never executed to the extent necessary. The Council of Trent was an attempt to make a huge proclamation of Roman Catholic faith and was far too little, far too late, and apparently far too trivial in Northern European politics.Ignoring demands for reform before Luther, the Church made fatal errors that would culminate in The Reformation. During the late 15th century, Savonarola gained hold of Florence and instituted strict moral rules on the citizens of a city with high numbers of sodomy cases. Rather than trying to reform the hierarchical Church and its abuses, Savonarola attempted to purge Florentine society of the immoralities of the laity (Savonarola would later be executed for heresy). The earliest fatal mistake of the Church was strongly encouraging the Renaissance; focus was taken away from the Church and placed on the individual during this era. Renaissance ideas revolved around the human condition (or individualism) in a more secular society. General Protestant doctrines revolve around the individual's relationship with Christ and his/her own interpretation of Biblical Scripture. The connections between these doctrines and Renaissance ideas are quite evident and the obvious conclusion is that the "re-birth" was a giving life to a new Christian division simultaneously. This rearranging of focus led highly educated lay and clerical thinkers-thinking being a new concept to those crawling out of the Middle Ages-to question the apparent abuses that were inconsistent with the tradition of the Church such as the sale of indulgences and church relics. If the Church had kept the laity ignorant as in the Middle Ages, it would not have had to worry about questions of abuses to the extent brought by the springing of knowledge in the Renaissance. Eventually the Church would come up with a few ideas to combat the newly labeled "Protestants"; but only after The Reformation was in progress.As the Church would finally come around to understanding the time for change was at hand, two programs appear to combat Protestantism and produce reform-the Inquisition and the Jesuits. Although these two should have aimed to incite reform, they strayed and attempted to combat Protestantism. The Inquisition in the reformative era began in Spain and was later adopted by Italy too. The Spanish Inquisition frequently lost all concentration on the matter at hand (Protestantism)...

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