The Catholic Counter Reformation

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Information about The Catholic Counter Reformation

Published on October 30, 2007

Author: Junyo


The Catholic Counter-Reformation:  The Catholic Counter-Reformation Slide2:  “Counter-Reformation” a term invented by German Protestant historians. Not much liked by Catholic historians, but now generally accepted and used. Phases in papal reaction to Protestantism: Ignoring the problem (up to mid 1530s) Defensive (up to 1560s) Forward-looking, proactive (after 1560s) Early 16th century Popes:  Early 16th century Popes Leo X and the “Luther affair” Adrian VI (1522-23), Dutch, starts serious reform efforts but dies after just 13 months Clement VII (1523-34). Great patron of the arts, learning, the Medici family and Florence. No attempts at reform. “He had no more sense than his uncle Leo X of the urgency and magnitude of what was happening in Germany.” Slide4:  Paul III (1534-49), the first “Counter-Reformation” pope Paul III, an “unlikely reformer, an old-fashioned nepotist who as a cardinal had a mistress who bore him four children.” Viewed the church “as a fortress to be guarded, defended, and kept on the alert” Paul III (1534-49):  Paul III (1534-49) Reinstates the Roman Inquisition – means that “heretics” will go on trial. Public criticism of the church becomes dangerous Approves the Jesuit order in 1540 (more on this soon) And, importantly, convenes the first session of the Council of Trent in 1545 Council of Trent:  Council of Trent Three sessions: the first two “defensive,” the last one, from 1561-63, the most important. Most attendees are Italian bishops. Council of Trent and Catholic doctrine:  Council of Trent and Catholic doctrine “[The Council] left behind a bundle of decrees that defined much of Catholicism for the next four centuries” No compromise with Protestant beliefs – i.e., “If anyone says that by faith alone the impious is justified, let him be anathema.” Tradition and the Bible for authority All seven sacraments are valid, transubstantiation is right, etc. Idea instead is to “define Catholic teaching much more sharply than it had been before.” Theological works of Thomas Aquinas are key “Tridentine” reforms:  “Tridentine” reforms Especially important: for the first time, seminaries are established for priests in every diocese. Every priest must be educated. Bishops are charged to make regular visitations Did not touch question of papal reform. No other council called for 300 years! Other milestones:  Other milestones 1559, the Index of Prohibited Books – Catholics must not read Protestant works or even vernacular Bibles 1566, the Roman Catechism, Catholic response to all the Protestant catechisms 1570, the Roman Missal, a uniform liturgy for the Mass that would be used in every Catholic church throughout the world Slide10:  “In a much stronger sense than before the Reformation, the Catholic Church became Roman Catholic.” Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation:  Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation Jesuits often called the “shock troops” of the Counter-Reformation. Extremely dedicated, well-educated, disciplined set of men focused on revival of Catholicism: “indefatigable preachers, great missionaries, and formidable polemicists.” They help reconvert southern Germany and Poland to Catholicism Loyola and the Society of Jesus:  Loyola and the Society of Jesus Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) Son of poor Basque nobleman, becomes a soldier until wounded at age 30. Religious conversion as he recovers. 1522, becomes pilgrim and then goes to a monastery The Spiritual Exercises:  The Spiritual Exercises In monastery, has a vision 8 days long! Spiritual Exercises the result: meant as a devotional handbook for a Christian One exercise: a month of isolation and self-examination of sin Published 1548 The fundamental source of Jesuit spirituality Slide14:  In 1534, Loyola and six friends at the Univ. of Paris vow to go on Crusade against the Turks, but in Venice, cannot find a ship to take them to Palestine Plan B: go to Rome and dedicate themselves to the pope. So they do. 1537, Paul III ordains them as priests, and they work preaching and helping people in Rome Slide15:  1540, Formation of the Society of Jesus Paul III decides they should be allowed to start a new religious order. Initial idea: Preachers who are loyal only to the pope The Jesuit superior general lives in Rome and is elected for life. Much more centralized than the friars, for instance. Slide16:  Rapid expansion: At death of Loyola in 1556, 1000 Jesuits; in 1566, 3000; in 1600, 8,500; in 1700, 20,000 Jesuits as confessors:  Jesuits as confessors Some Jesuits become personal confessors to important Catholic rulers, such as the king of France and Holy Roman Emperor A Catholic kind of throne/altar alliance To left: Lamormaini, confessor to emperor Ferdinand II during 30 Years War Jesuits and education:  Jesuits and education Somewhat “accidental,” not part of the original mission, but quickly becomes very important Jesuits establish excellent schools across Europe 144 schools by 1579 372 schools by 1615 Many famous Europeans educated by Jesuits: both Descartes and Voltaire, for instance. Even Protestants attend. Jesuits and overseas missions:  Jesuits and overseas missions Jesuits not just in Europe – they go to China, Japan, north and south America, and beyond. Their letters are often the first European perspectives on other peoples of the globe

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