Counter Reformation Essay

Submitted By liza712
Words: 810
Pages: 4

Liza Isayeva 10/20/14
Dr. Nardi AP Euro Prd.5
What were the responses of the Catholic authorities in the sixteenth century to the challenges posed by the Lutheran Reformation? Through the spread of Lutheranism and, consequently, the Lutheran Revolution, the power and credibility of the Catholic Church significantly weakened. This in turn elicited what is known as the Catholic or Counter Reformation in which the Catholic Church made its best attempts to redefine their structure and regain power as an institution. In order to do so, Pope Paul III called the Council of Trent which met sporadically in the years 1545-1563, in which the clergy implemented three main courses of action. Those being, 1) clean up the abuses of the Catholic Church, 2) affirm the beliefs of the Catholic Church, and 3) check the growth of Protestantism. The first main course of action followed in response to the Lutheran Revolution was the clean-up of the abuses existing within the Catholic Church. First, the church addressed all of the corrupt practices of the clergy. Such practices included pluralism and absenteeism in which a bishop often had several dioceses but never actually tended to any of them, and rather just collected the money raised in each. Now, bishops were only allowed to hold one diocese and were required to tend to it. Other practices included simony, the buying and selling of church positions and nepotism, the granting of clerical positions based entirely on family lines rather than qualifications. One of the most important corrupt practices of the church addressed at the Council of Trent was the selling of indulgences, which was the main complaint mentioned in Luther’s, 95 Theses. The selling of indulgences was basically asking people to pay a fee to have certain sins forgiven and to be guaranteed entry into heaven. This too was now strictly prohibited. In addition, popes were required to keep their vow of celibacy unlike before and were no longer allowed to hold concubines. Another abuse of the Catholic Church reformed through the Council was the illiteracy among the clergy. To fix this matter, the Council issued seminaries to train priests and ensure they had full qualifications for their position. The next course of action implemented by the Council was to affirm the beliefs of the Catholic Church. While, previously, there had been disputes regarding the tenets of the religion the true meaning of the sacraments, the church affirmed that its initial beliefs are true and are the key to the Catholic religion. The affirmed beliefs include the importance of the seven sacraments and the concept of trans-substantiation in regard to the Holy Eucharist. Trans-substantiation stated that during the ceremony of the Holy Eucharist, the bread and wine given to each person by the priest truly did transform into the blood and body of Christ and the transformation was more literal than symbolic. In addition, the church declared the Pope as the head of the church and the source of truth and authority in the religion. However, one tiny compromise was made. While the Council confirmed the value of religious relics, pilgrimages, and miracles, it also declared the…