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Understanding Counter Reformation Essay

3702 words - 15 pages

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Understanding Counter Reformation

In order to understand the Counter Reformation one must consider the political factors and motivators behind them as well as the belief factors when examining clashes with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church during 16th century experienced a reformation that was both politically and belief driven. The Catholic Reformation also known as the Counter Reformation allowed the church to clearly define its position, eliminate unchristian practices and examine its role in world.
This paper will address the political motivators of the Counter Reformation, the unchristian practices that fueled corruption and the clearly defined religious concerns of reformers. It will establish that the use of patronage and nepotism ultimately undermined the spiritual piety of the church. Also, the movements that brought spirituality back to the church will be addressed along with those movements that led to separation from church. In detailing the events and character of this era and analyzing the outcomes of reform it will be concluded that the Counter Reformation was the beginning of a stronger church and an end to an era that quite possibly could have led to the dissolution of the Catholic Church.
One must understand the political make up of the Catholic Church during this period prior to addressing the reforms to the church. The church was far more than a religious institution. The Catholic Church was supreme in Europe. The power of the pope was total and this was supplemented by the power the Holy Roman Emperor had as temporal defender of the Catholic Church. Even though the church had no determinate territory it was a state. It had a monarch as a pope, it princes in prelates and its subjects in Western Christendom. It had legislative assemblies in ecumenical councils, a constitution in cannon law, and fiscal agency in the Curia. It went to war, negotiated treaties and collected taxies. The church was the Holy Roman Empire with a stronghold throughout Europe. But this would quickly change.(www.History)
At the time of the reformation there was great concern that the Old Church with all its history and tradition was in trouble. This concern came from both within the church and outside the church. Protestant and Catholic reformers alike were troubled by the corruption in the church and its inner workings. Reformers saw that the Christian faith had in many ways been taken captive by a religious system more interested in politics and social accomplishment than in following the example of Christ. They saw the church and its leadership filled with corruption and greed. The Renaissance popes who led the church were not spiritual leaders. Those at the top of the clergy were wealthy and lived lavish lifestyles. They indulged in nepotism, power politics and patronage. Furthermore, the priests at the bottom were poor and unable to administer to the multiple parishes in their charge. Thus it can be said that...

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