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Counter-Reformation Or Catholic Reformation?? Which Term Do You Think Is Most Appropriate? Essay, Research Paper

This essay is

a response to the question of whether the Catholic reform movement that

predated Lutheran reforms and had its roots in the mid-fourteenth century was of

greater importance for the recovery of the Catholic Church in the wake of the

Reformation than direct reaction to the Protestant Reformation itself. Clerical

absenteeism, nepotism, clerical ignorance and immorality abounded within the

clergy at all levels of the Church, but they had not been suddenly

introduced.? Gregory VII (1078-85),

Innocent III (1198-1216) and Boniface VIII (1294-1303) had made claims about

Papal Infallibility that effectively gave them mastery over all of Christendom,

and it was with some success that Innocent III in particular pursued this

claim.? However, the Great Schism

destroyed the Church?s image and some claims of the Popes were discredited by

the appearance of multiple claimants to the Papal throne.? The move to Avignon was as a result of an

inability to hold onto Rome as a safe haven.?

Thus, the Papacy turned its head to the fundraising necessary for the

return.? Under Clement V, the Papacy in

Avignon took in three times more money than the French Crown.? The resentment generated by the greed of the

Papacy made the return to Rome unnecessarily messy, as Martin V, elected at the

Council of Constance in 1417, was forced to cede much control over national

churches to national governments.? The

role of councils in the solving of the Schism led to an increased level of

prestige for councils and the growth of Conciliarism at a time when the Pope

was being reduced to the level of being just another principality in Europe, as

opposed to the supreme leader of the continent.? Attempts to not only reimpose this leadership but also to

maintain the Papal income for projects such as the new St. Peters? basilica led

to great unpopularity.? This need for

income also caused problems at a local level, as income in England for example

dropped to around ?5 p.a. for some priests, simply because money was being

spirited away to Rome as the Papacy continued to try to draw back Martin V?s

concessions. The

Conciliarists at Constance passed a decree in 1415 claiming that the Councils

were ?a General Council? with ?authority immediately from Christ? and the whole

church including ?the Pope himself? was obliged to heed their demands.? The councillors decided in 1418 that

decennial councils should be called.?

The failure of the concilliar movement can be ascribed not a lack of

support, as the Schism had weakened the Papacy, but interestingly for the

period, to an overly comprehensive representation of competing interest

groups.? Eugenius IV was able to kill

the movement, as it was in the interest of the Papacy to do so, as the Papacy

was generally more worldly than the councillors who wished to debate issues of

faith and church structure.? Just as

fear of another Schism promoted the councilliary movement, fear of the Schism

prevented the Concilliary movement from posing an effective challenge to the

Papacy and thus of posing an effective challenge to the entrenched corruption

of the Church. The problem

for local society was the differing levels of education, wealth and position

amongst the clergy.? This dichotomy was

more obvious in the fifteenth century, as the growth of the universities led to

a greater proportion of extremely well educated clergy emerging, and thus

setting off greater contrast across parishes, or from generation?s priest to

another generation?s priest.? Few

priests understood the Latin of the Mass and few preached sermons.? The sixteenth century was in fact better in

terms of education of the clergy and of the bishopry than previously, but the

laity were in a better position to observe their failings, and it is for this

reason that reformers begun to emerge, as a greater number of people within the

church were educated better, and consequently saw and decided to try to resolve

problems within the Church.? The claim

that the coincidence of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations proves one to

be a reaction to the other is thus unsustainable.? Such a conclusion overlooks the fact that Luther intended his

reformation to be a Catholic reformation, and also goes so far as to claim that

he was the first reformer.? The Catholic

reform movement can be traced to 150 years prior to Luther?s initial

demands.? William of Occam (died 1349)

and Marsilia of Padua (died 1342) were important early reform writers.? Although they had little impact with their

writing at a popular level, Occam was important for his influence on Luther and

Marsilio was used by Thomas Cromwell as justification for the English

Reformation and to prove the long-seated nature of the Church?s problems and

its failure to confront them.? Occam?s Via

Moderna was one of the great texts of the fourteenth century. Such

contemporaries as John Wyclif were more popularly supported, even if Wyclif was

effectively just a bargaining chip between the English Crown and the Papacy. Jan Hus was

next in the line of great pre-Lutheran reformers.? There was no suddenness in Hus?s outbursts as many of the demands

he made, such as for a more pastoral church had been echoed across Europe for

centuries.? The denial of Papal

Supremacy, as with Wyclif, was the thing to which the Church took exception,

leaving Hus?s complaints about abuses of the church to one side.? The mishandling of the affair, notably Hus?s

death at Constance, led the Hussites to survive with some autonomy from the

church thanks to the Compactata drawn up with the Papacy.? Along with even earlier reformers such as

Peter Waldo, whose Waldensians survived from the twelfth century to be absorbed

into the Calvinist fold in Savoy and Piedmont. Other

reformers to note were the mysticists who shared Hussite contempt for church

hierarchy but also for the accumulation of wealth that chartacterised so much

of the contemporary church.? The

Conciliar movement, the medieval mysticists, the Platonic humanists and

revivalists (such as Savonarola of Florence) all demanded reforms. Leo X?s

Lateran Council produced pre-Lutheran suggestions for reform from inside the

Vatican. Many tried to

lead reform by obvious example of holy lives.?

Ostentatious piety is derided in the Bible, but such orders as the Order

of Divine Love, which consisted initially of 50 Roman clergymen, tried to drag

the lay and clerical society into a better shape by example alone.? The Order?s most celebrated member,

Contarini, was an unordained member of the Order from an aristocratic Venetian

family and actually became Venetian ambassador to Rome, the Imperial Court and

elsewhere from 1518.? Despite a direct

revelation, he remained unordained and remained within the laity from where he

tried to bring about reform by the example of decency and reason. These lines of

reformers within the old framework predated Luther, but were by no means

unaffected by Luther?s appearance.? The

movement became noticibly more purposeful and more intolerant.? Giberti, another member of the Oratory, was

the chief adviser to Clement VII, and the protagonist of his anti-Spanish

policy and his policy of using France to liberate Italy from foreign

domination.? It was not until Luther?s

advances on one hand and the Sack of Rome on another that he found his way to

the bishopric of Verona.? Placed in such

a position of such influence and given his background at the Oratory, it is

perhaps unsurprising that he became a model bishop, reforming his clergy and

restoring the spirituality of his laity.?

Sadoleto, Carafa and Morone, other Oratory members, took similar roles

in other seats in the absence of Papal leadership.? Reformer bishops were not, however, confined to Italy. Briconnet?s

work at Meaux took on board Luther?s criticisms and worked with them to reform

his diocese whilst remaining orthodox.?

Gropper?s reforms in Cologne under the eye of the archbishop von Wied

were famous, as were the reforms of de la Marque at Liege, who combined

suppression and reform in equal measure.?

Although of similar lineage, attitude and action to Ximenes in Spain,

these reforms were carried out with such ferocity because of the imperative

need to battle Luther. The revival of

religious orders is another aspect of the revival of the Church.? The health of the regular members of the

Church had been seen as an indicator of the health of the whole Church, and by

such a measure, the fifteenth century came off very badly.? As Chaucer said ?a good friar is as rare as

the phoenix?.? Worldliness,

indifference, corruption and declining numbers were motifs of the era.? The reaction to the fall of standards within

the general religious life had led to the Oratory of Divine Love, just as the

fall of the orders led to the growth of reforming movements within the

mendicant orders.? Offshoot movements

professing a more rigid following of the rules imposed on their parent orders

are an indicator of the ill-health of the monastic movement, although their

foundation does show a core of reforming, conscientious, devout and persuasive

members of the movements.? These ?observant?

orders were standing up against the laxity of the orders? attitude to their

intended austerity, apparently diluted by contact with the laity.? As a result, by the early sixteenth century,

the least austere of the ordained were the friars, who having contact with the

laity, were not only corrupted but also seen to be corrupt.? It is no coincidence that Luther was an

ex-friar and that so many of his early colleagues were people fallen from holy

orders. ? Within the community of Camaldoli under the

leadership of such people as Giustiniani, the Camaldolese set up small

settlements across Italy bringing Christianity to the people.? The Capuchins were also set up as an

offshoot of the Franciscan movement with the aim of restoring the movement to

the ideals of their founder.? Confirmed

in 1536 by Paul III, they gained individual recognition and became very popular

advocates of Catholicism as they laboured amongst the poor, sick and destitute.? They attracted friends in high places, such

as Vittoria Colonna, but also excited distrust amongst both the unashamedly

worldly and the overly cool and rational, for they were blunt, direct and

immodest about their devotion.? They

were lucky to survive the defection of their superior, Bernardino Ochino, to

the Lutherans, but they convinced Paul III of their orthodoxy and were allowed

to continue. ??????????? The

influence of the Oratory of Divine Love was also felt in the monastic world.

New orders of ?clerks regular?, were formed.?

Ordinary clergy and laity, as in the Oratory, lived together, took some

monastic vows but formed no houses and lived within the world proper, either as

parish priests or lay community members.?

The Theatines (1524) were founded by Oratarians.? St. Cajetan and Carafa were Neapolitan

aristocrats who moved their order from Rome to Venice, and soon inspired

similar houses.? The Sommaschi (1532)

and the Barbarites (1533) preceded the Ursulites (1535) who were a similar

movement, but for women.? Whereas, the

friars were known for their holiness and piety, these orders became known for

the primacy in their lives of the needy: an aspect still prevalent in the lives

of the monks and friars, but viewed as less important than the offices, prayer

and masses that dominated their lives.?

The idea of preaching, nursing and teaching the masses as an offering to

God over a life of prayer were not pre-Reformation ideas, and although based on

older foundations, were acted upon, accelerated and altered because of the need

for Counter-Reformation changes. ??????????? The

influence of humanists such as Pole, Morone and Contarini is also vital.? Pole was a cousin of Henry VIII whose temper

was conciliatory and whose guide was reason. Eager to sign treaties and discuss

differences, these humanists were a world apart from such holy fools as Carafa

and Giustiniani who saw differences and unorthodoxy as heresy.? Although all were agreed that the Church

needed reform, the lack of worldliness of Pole compared with the political life

of Giberti and diplomatic experience of Contarini meant that ultimately the

effectiveness of reformers was often based on factors outside theology,

personality and motivation.? Carafa was

very embittered, but along with Contarini and Giberti, was a great reformer,

thanks to his realism and his understanding of the world ?assets, skills lacked

by Clement VII. ??????????? The

Catholic Reformation?s first champion and final supporter was Paul III.? Appreciating the need for reform, he

appointed Contarini.? Although he did

also appoint two of his adolescent grandsons at the same time, the appointment

was a big step.? He would add Pole,

Carafa and Sadoleto amongst others to the College in 1536, another gesture of

his commitment to Reform, and all of these people in 1537 would join a council

of nine to reccoment reforms.? Their

1537 report ?Consilium de emendenda ecclesia? ?had a firm preface about the role of the Papacy in the problems of

the Church, and criticises the self-interest of the Popes and their ?false

councillors.?? The sale of Venal Offices

was specifically criticised.? The failure

to recognise such obvious abuses as the appointment of children, sale of

benefices, pluralism, non-residence, dishonesty and idleness in the Curia,

monastic corruption, dispensions bought and sold, simony and the paucity of the

diocese of Rome itself.? The book was

not really a part of the Counter-Reformation however, eventually finding its

way onto the Index of Prohibited Books.?

Having said that, Paul did try to reform the Datary and the

Penitentiary.? The Sack of Rome however,

had wiped out papal income.? With two

fifths of his predecessor?s income, Paul struggled to make ends meet, and as

such was in no position to reform.? This

attempt by Paul III marked the end of the old Catholic Reform movement as an

independent entity, and its absorption into an assault on Luther and his

colleagues.? This last generation of

pre-reformation theologians were the last hope for genuinely altruistic and

spiritual reformation of the church without the bitter catalyst of the split of

the Church.? ??????????? The

banning of heterodoxical works was just one side to the Counter-Reforms.? The Orthodox was also ratified, clarified

and reasserted.? The four schools of

thought at the time, the pure Thomists (confined to the Dominicans by this

time) who followed Aquinas, the Duns Scotus Thomists, (the via antiqua), the

Nominalists and the Augustinian school.?

.? The high level subtleties

between the four were not as obvious as the differences allowed to continue

between pure orthodoxy and popular Catholicism.? Mariolatry, the worship of Mary and the downgrading of the role

of Christ and the Trinity, genuinely pagan festivals incorporated into

Christianisty and other superstitions were also in need of clarification.? Such clarification was vital for Paul III,

but for Charles V, the issue of repairing the Church by means of repairing the

hierarchies was more important.? The Church

Council, which met from 1545 onward, reflected the desire of Paul III to

clarify doctrine as a means to securing the independence of the Curia to govern

the hierarchy.? Although the Council of

Trent did discuss problems like pluralism and non-residency, its enormous

output was almost entirely concerned with doctrine.? Its composition (Papal Legates) ensured that the attacks on the

Papacy of earlier councils did not occur, and the Council endowed a much

clearer corpus of doctrine to the church.?

The need to clarify the doctrine established the Church?s view of itself

no longer as the Church, but as the Roman Catholic Church ? one of several such

established churches.? It is perhaps

thanks to Carafa and his colleagues that the Council allowed no concessions to

the Protestants.? Paul III hurried the

Council in 1546-7 onto the subjects raised by Luther and the

Counter-Reformation bloc in the Curia got the result they desired.? The Regensburg compromise (?Double

Justification?) was dropped entirely by 1546 and Thomism came into conflict

with the Council.? The Augustinian

compromises to Luther were dropped as the Council?s attitude was that Luther

had taken a step too far and to pander to the Lutherans would be to denigrate

the sanctity of their own religion for the benefits of? heretics to whom their compromises meant

nothing.? The hijacking of the General

Council of the Church ? so long a weapon on the conciliatory parties ? fell

into the hands of Carafa?s hardened group of anti-Protestants. However, one

of the most important aspects of the Catholic fightback was the Society of

Jesus.? Founded by St. Ignatius Loyola,

a Basque ex-soldier, who had met Lutheranism and discovered that he hated it,

the Order?s founders (Loyola, Lefevre, Lainez, Salmeron, Bobadilla, Rodriguez

and Xavier) were gathered by Loyola and made into Loyola?s own disciples.? Loyola?s Spiritual Exercises was a

book of some power and believed in neither mystic retreat, nor in crazed

devotion, but instead in a ?indifference? to the world backed up by knowledge

of God and controlled mystic experience. The vow the

seven took in 1534 to serve the Pope as he wished, or to perform missionary

work in the Holy Land led them to Venice where they intended to go to the

Levant but diplomatic issues prevented their travel.? As a result, they ended up in 1538 in Rome where they formed an

order.? The Society was arranged in

?total obedience? to the ?provost? of the Society and was set up with the aim

of ?teaching Christianity to children and the uneducated.?? Loyola?s assertion that the Society would

?serve as soldiers in faithful obedience to the most holy lord Paul III and his

successors? was what swung Paul III to approve the Society and as such, the

Society, described by Bonney as ?shock troops of the Counter Reformation? was

founded in 1540 by the Bull ?Regimini militantis ecclesiae?. Ignatius

took the first generalship despite gallstones that went undiagnosed for twenty

years, and led the order with great strength for fifteen years.? Short, slight, ill, lame from his wounding

as a soldier at Pamplona, of limited intelligence and never a great preacher,

scholar or theologian, Ignatius was still a great leader, and his mysticism

which increased as he grew older and his coolness and practicality, results of

his untheological attitude to theology resulted in a clear, obvious and

instructive understanding of the soul.?

Trappings of the other orders such as dress, food and daily orders were

abandoned as Loyola wanted his priests to live within the world, not just near

it, and to act accordingly.? The Jesuits

were educated to a very high degree and in modern thought, not just in one

inflexible doctrine. As such, the order was radically different from older

orders. Loyola founded

an order of missionaries at the service of the Pope with the aim of moving east

to the Levant, or west to the New World.?

Loyola did not envisage Christian Germany as being his goal, but the

Pope?s aim was Loyola?s aim, and the Jesuits waded into Germany. So modern and

successful was their programme that the fathers were inundated with requests

from families asking them to teach boys with no intention of becoming

Jesuits.? Germany saw a rash of new

schools founded. Vienna, Cologne, Prague and Ingolstadt all saw large Jesuit

centres established.? Paul came to

welcome the Jesuits and so great was the change in opinion concerning the need

for reform that the humanist Pole was favourite for election to the Papacy.? Alas, they were wrong and by 1542 Giberti

and Contarini were dead. The conciliatory humanist reformers were gone and in

their place, such bitter critics of Luther as Carafa rose.? Although Paul III?s immediate successor

Julius III was a reformer in the mould of Paul III and reconvened the Council

of Trent, he was to be the last of the line of old reformers, as he was

replaced by Carafa. Carafa, even before his appointment as Paul IV, squeezed

the bull ?Licet ab initio? from Paul III revitalising the Italian

inquisition, in a move that set the tone for his papacy.? Modelled on the Spanish Inquisition, the

Italian model, headed by Carafa had the power to confiscate, imprison and

punish throughout the peninsular.? The

Inquisition controlled the growth not only of Protestant, Anabaptist,

Antitrinitarian ideas, but also of some orthodox reform, especially under Paul

IV?s leadership.? Morone was imprisoned

on charges of heresy and Pole was saved only by a timely return to

England.? Under Paul IV, Italy lapsed into

intellectual stagnation.? The Index

Librorum Prohibitorum (1559) was just one aspect of the repression of

Paul?s inquisition. Paul?s

personal dislike of Ignatius almost caused him to dissolve the Society.? Paul IV?s brutality and aggression in such

actions as cleansing the Curia and makes him the first Counter-Reformation

pope, but in his politics (alienating Spain) he almost set the Counter-Reforms

back some time. The period of

1540-1560 saw a move from the humanist reformers who were built in the mould of

Ximenes and Pole and whose basis for reform was a longstanding distain for the

iniquities of the Church to a move to specifically counter the advances of

Luther. As the people who could remember united Christendom died off, the

permanence of the split came to be realised and accepted.? It was in the battle to win back Germany

that the Counter-Reformation was forged as it became to be known and in the

battle against Luther that its weapons: the Inquisition, the Jesuits,

repression and renewed Papal Supremacy ? were forged, ready for the fight with

the less compromising Calvinists.? To

answer, until the election of Paul IV I would use the term Catholic Reformation

and thereafter, I would use the term Counter-Reformation.? Elements of the Catholic Reformation were

concerned specifically with Luther and their development was accelerated by the

need to heal the split, but their principles, literature, aims objectives and

ideology predated Luther as they were in a long line of reformers who,

including the early Luther, punctuated the previous centuries.

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