Sunday, September 29, 2019

Counter Reformation

Counter Reformation, begun by the Catholic Church with the opening of the Council of Trent, 1545, had two sides. One, the Counter Reformation proper, was a struggle against Protestantism. The other—sometimes called the Catholic Reformation—was a movement for spiritual and moral reform within the Catholic Church (Reardon, 1981). For nearly a century many Catholic leaders had pleaded for a reform of the church â€Å"in head and members. † Little could be done, however, because key church appointments remained in the hands of political leaders.Spain was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of the Counter Reformation. Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros (1436- 1517) as archbishop of Toledo enforced drastic reforms in the church. Shortly before 1517 Giovanni Pietro Caraffa, later Pope Paul IV, helped found in Rome the Oratory of Divine Love, a society of priests committed to prayer and self- reform. In 1524, they disbanded and some of its members founded the Theatin es, an order of priests dedicated to reforming the church. The order spread through Italy, exerting growing influence (Bainton, 1983).In Spain, Saint Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun and mystic, reformed her order and exerted much influence through her writings. Another Spanish mystic and monastic reformer was Saint John of the Cross. Adrian of Utrecht, a Dutch cardinal, was elected pope, Adrian VI in 1522, but died 20 months later. He had tried to make institutional reforms in the church hierarchy and to keep church affairs independent of continental politics, but his efforts were fruitless. Clement VII (pope 1523- 34) was an intelligent clergyman, but timid and indecisive (Reardon, 1981).Paul III (pope 1534- 49) was committed to reforming the church. He was not influenced in church matters by pressure from continental leaders. Paul appointed many reformers to positions of authority. During Paul’s papacy, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, an organization dedicate d to reforming and strengthening the church. Members, called Jesuits, worked as theologians to help clarify and reform church doctrines; as teachers to educate youth in these doctrines; and as missionaries to spread the Gospel to foreign lands.Paul approved the society as a religious order in 1540. The Jesuits guided the Catholic revival and led the Counter Reformation (Bainton, 1983). The Council of Trent marked the beginning of the Counter Reformation. As early as 1534, Paul III had called for an ecumenical council to institute the reform, but his plans were obstructed by corrupt church officials and various continental leaders who wanted to maintain their influence over the church. The council finally convened 1545 and sat for three sessions (1545-47, 1551-52, and 1562-63).It reaffirmed Catholic doctrines, implemented reforms to prevent abuses, and tightened papal discipline over the church. It also gathered church forces into a united front against Protestantism. In 1555 Caraffa became Pope Paul IV. To demonstrate his commitment for reform, he broke with the papal tradition of worldliness and began a life of austerity, a standard which later popes maintained (Reardon, 1981). References: 1. Bainton, R. H. The Age of Reformation. Krieger, 1983. 2. Reardon, B. M. G. Religious Thought in the Reformation. Longman, 1981.

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