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Transcript of The Reformation
Key People of
Long before the Reformation started, many people in the Church, both clergy and lay (everyday) people, had been asking for a removal of all of the bad practices going on and for a spiritual reform to bring them closer to God. These reforms had failed to be made because various people who had authority in the Church liked things the way they were because they were gaining from them personally...
The Catholic Reformation
Describe why the Reformation was considered to be a significant aspect within the development of the Christian tradition
This topic explores why, as a result of the Reformation, there are now differences among the Christian Churches today.
It examines how Christianity spread beyond Europe through missionary activity
And it does this mainly through the study of representative figures such as Martin Luther, St Ignatius Loyola and Henry VIII
Areas of Concern
The Rise of Heresy
The Avignon Papacy
The Great Schism
Abuses in the 15th Century
The Winds of Change
In October 1517 a German monk called Martin Luther walked up to the front door of the castle church in the city of Wittenburg and nailed up a list of 95 points he wanted to make.
For many historians this marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
Papal Palace in Avignon, France.
The causes of the reformation go back to the 12th Century.
Many were concerned with the state of the Church.
The Church was in need of reform but failed to reform itself properly.
The power and authority of bishops and popes over people, nobles and royalty.
The threat of “heretical” teachings.
The morally corrupt live styles of some priests, bishops, cardinals and popes.
Areas of Concern
The papacy leaving Rome and establishing itself in Avignon (1305 to 1377)
The time when there was two rival popes at the same time.
Poor papal leadership.
Strange and superstitious religious practices.
Failure to carry out the necessary reforms.
The Rise of Heresy
In the middle ages there were many nonconformists, both groups and individuals, who were branded as heretics and treated most severely.
The Inquisition was established for the sole purpose of hunting down heretics and disposing of them.
For some, these nonconformists were seen as “martyrs” for a cause which continued to grow.
This group of “heretics” were basically overly enthusiastic lay people who, after observing the luxurious excesses of the clergy challenged the apostolic authority of the bishops.
They translated the scriptures into the language of the common people and preached in the market places.
Contempt for ecclesiastical authority seems to be their main “crime”.
Given the strict hierarchy of the Church it is not surprising they were excommunicated and expelled.
Marsilius (1275 – 1342) was the Rector of the University of Paris. In his position he questioned the nature and structure of the Church.
In his opinion the whole community of the faithful constituted the Church not just popes, bishops and priests.
Judicial torture was used by civil authorities in order to extract “confessions” for the Church. It was seen as a very successful way of getting to the truth.
Once convicted of heresy in a Church Court the heretic might be imprisoned or handed over to the secular authorities to be burnt at the stake.
Initially the Church was against the use of violence against heretics but later attitudes changed.
The Church was under threat. Not by an outside aggressor but from within. A hard line was needed to stop the fabric of the Church from being torn apart.
From the 13th Century onwards the systematic repression of heretics was well organized.
Perhaps one of the most famous victims of the “Church” was St Joan of Arc who was unjustly burnt at the stake for heresy in 1431.
John Hus was a theologian from Prague in Bohemia. Earlier he had been inspired by the Englishman, John Wyclif.
In 1418 he was arrested, tortured and then burnt at the stake for his teachings. In response to his death the region of Bohemia went into revolt.
The Avignon Papacy
In 1305 the French pope left Rome and took up residence in the city of Avignon in present day France. The papacy stayed there until 1372.
Avignon was a corrupt city with immorality widespread throughout the papal court.
St Catherine of Siena wrote to Pope Gregory XI encouraging him to reform the Church and to return to Rome.
The return to Rome from Avignon was not without its difficulties.
When Gregory XI died in 1378 the Italian cardinals quickly elected a new pope, Urban VI.
The French cardinals, who were not keen to return to Rome in the first place, did not accept the election of Urban VI so they elected their own pope. He was known as Clement VII.
Clement established himself in Avignon and Urban remained in Rome.
The Church had TWO POPES!
When Clement died in Avignon he was succeeded by Benedict XII. And when Urban died in Rome he was succeeded by Boniface IX.
Both popes tried to excommunicate each other and both tried to initiate a war against the other side.
In 1409 a Council was called in Pisa to resolve the situation.
The Council deposed both popes and appointed Alexander V as the new pope.
The Church now had THREE POPES!!
In 1414 the three popes were:
Gregory XII successor of Boniface IX
John XXIII successor of Alexander V
The situation was resolved at the Council of Constance(1414 – 1418).
John XXIII abdicated.
Gregory XII abdicated.
Benedict XIII was deposed.
In November of 1417 Martin V was elected pope.
With the schism over it was surely time for the Church to turn it’s attention to reform.
The Power of The Pope Threatened
Sadly during much of the 15th Century the papacy was preoccupied with increasing its power and authority.
There was conflict between popes and councils who considered themselves as having greater collective authority than the pope.
Pope Eugenius IV was deposed.
Pope Felix V abdicated.
Abuses in the 15th Century
Eventually the popes regained their authority.
Sadly, some popes, instead of using their position to reform the Church used it to gain favours for their illegitimate children and to restore the architectural glory of Rome.
Ignorant men with little education were ordained priests.
Individuals purchased spiritual positions within the Church with large sums of money.
The burden of Church tax was very heavy.
Christians thought they could escape the penalties of sin by purchasing indulgences.
Some priests, bishops and even popes lived immoral lives.
Superstition played a dominant part in people’s lives.
Believers increasingly trusted in indulgences, relics and pilgrimages as the way of salvation.
Some bishops were worldly and ambitious, often neglecting the spiritual concerns of the diocese.
Some priests became very rich by drawing on the income of several parishes and paying poor priests to do the work for them.
Many who joined Religious Life were motivated by greed, wealth and power.
The religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience were ignored by some immoral religious.
The Renaissance in the 15th Century was a time of great human advancement. Especially in the sciences, arts, architecture and learning.
However it was a period when some of the most notorious popes lived.
During this period several of the popes are alleged to have gained this most sacred office through bribery and corruption.
Examples of papal corruption during the period include:
The votes of cardinals being bought in the papal elections.
Successful candidates rewarded their supporters with ecclesiastical offices.
Two popes openly having mistresses.
Members of the pope’s own family being advanced in the Church.
Alexander VI 1492 - 1503
His son Caesar was first a bishop and later a general in the pope’s army.
A Spanish cardinal fathered six children by his mistress. Later he was elected pope. Some of his children were given high positions in the Church.
Fact or Fiction?
Pope Alexander VI’s daughter Lucretia.
She married twice and had a less than virtuous reputation.
Another pope, Julius II (1503 – 1513) is reputed to have attacked an enemy town with his papal army.
Try to picture His Holiness, the Bishop of Rome, in white shining armour, charging across a field on a warhorse with papal flags flying.
Such disgraceful examples seemed to be an excuse for many priests, bishops and cardinals to break their vows and live immoral and shameful lives.
While some members of the Church’s hierarchy led sinful lives many ordinary Christians remained faithful to the Gospel.
Good people were genuinely appalled by the example set for them and longed for reform.
The Winds of Change
Erasmus was the illegitimate son of a priest. He was also an outspoken critic of the Church.
Of the life of the popes he wrote:
“So many riches, honours, trophies, offices, dispensations, taxes, indulgences; so many horses, mules, guards and so many pleasures….They should have to be replaced by vigils, fasts, tears, prayers, sermons, study and penance.”
The reformers were concerned about the unsound religious practices which pre-occupied the time of the ignorant masses.
Some of these practices seemed to have evolved out of superstition.
One such practice was the gaining of indulgences., which offered release from punishment for the sins committed in this life.
Indulgences were guarantees sold on behalf of the Church.
There seemed to be a lot of misunderstanding on what an indulgence could do.
Generally it was thought that the document guaranteed the holder release from punishment in purgatory for sins committed and forgiven in this life.
The money collected was to be used for the building of a new St Peter’s Church in Rome.
All of this for a small price!
Many believed that indulgences could do things like:
Forgive sins, even those which had not been committed yet!
Allow the purchaser to escape purgatory.
Allow the dead to escape purgatory.
With the assistance of fervent preachers very large sums of money were collected.
While most of the money went to Rome for the building of a new St Peters.
Some bishops received a cut of the takings for allowing the indulgence to be preached in their Diocese. This caused a lot of resentment.
The Church made a half hearted attempt to reform itself.
In 1512 the Fifth Lateran Council opened.
It condemned some abuses and set out a programme of reform.
Very little progress was made by the time the Council closed in March of 1517.
The Reformation had begun
In October of the same year a German priest called Martin Luther nailed up 95 theses against indulgences and other abuses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg.
The Poor Men of Lyons, France. (1170)
Marsilius of Padua
Torture and Death in God’s Name
Pain as Purification
The Great Schism
Council of Constance
The Renaissance Popes
Erasmus (1469 – 1536)
The Church's Story - Beginnings to the Reformation
Illegitimate son of a priest, humanist and outspoken critic of the church.
His ideas paved the way for the Reformation and other reformers
Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
Joined the third order of St Dominic at age 16 after years of self imposed solitude.
she looked after the poor and the sick and actively sought to address problems within the Church and society.
E.g. she carried out an extensive correspondence with Pope Gregory XI urging for reform of the Church and the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome and was an adviser to Pope Urban the VI
Martin Luther (1483 - 1546)
Entered an Augustinian monastery and was ordained a priest in 1507.
He was sent to the University of Wittenberg where he became a lecturer in theology and scripture.
Through study of the letters of St Paul he came to believe that Faith alone and scripture alone were the only things that should matter to a Christian. Faith in Gods grace was the only thing to save them.
Martin came up with a list of 95 theses about the errors in the selling and use of indulgences and other related matters which distracted Christians from their faith.
He did not set out to divide the Church, he simply wished to reform it.
He was accused of heresy, excommunicated and had to go into hiding due to his 95 theses. During this time he wrote and publicated more writings regarding various areas of the Catholic Church he had issue with and these spread quickly throughout Germany and beyond due to the printing presses.
He left the monastery and became the head of the new Lutheran church. Germany was divided into pro and anti Lutheran groups and it was from then on that anti-Catholic groups became known as Protestants because they protested against the fact that they did not have the right to practise they own religion as they were a minority group.
Unfortunately for Luther, not all of his followers drew the same messages from the scriptures as he did and other churches besides his own began to develop, each with different teachings.
And so the Protestant Reformation, which began with the aim of reforming the Catholic church from within, ended up adding to the division of the Church, from Catholic and Orthodox to many other Protestant denominations as well.
Albrecht Durer - Praying Hand's
As Lutheranism spread across the European continent, another form of Protestantism developed in Switzerland with the next generation of reformers. Known as the Reformed Church, its prime movers were Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin…
John Calvin's father originally wanted him to be a priest but changed his mind and told him to study law instead.
He did this from 1528 until 1533-34 when he had a sudden conversion experience and went to study theology in Geneva instead.
Calvin followed Martin Luther’s ideas and took them further. He was not simply concerned with a renovation the Church but instead called for a complete rebuilding of it. This was to be a strict reforming of doctrine and life.
These were all done away with and the Eucharist was to be limited to four Sundays a year:
Singing in church
Processions and relics
Calvin wrote a book – Institutes of the Christian Religion – in 1535. This work basically and clearly provided an introduction to reformed Christianity.
Calvin followed many of the same ideas as Luther such as the importance of the Scriptures but he also introduced his own ideas and his doctrine on predestination in particular was meet with wide resistance.
Predestination = having your fate determined for you before you are even born.
According to Calvin people are predestined to either bliss or damnation by God when they die.
Under this Calvinist doctrine many people were inspired and filled with the burning desire to prove themselves as worthy of being preselected to go to heaven. Having good health and being successful in business were signs of being one of the Elect of Predestined.
In 1541 Calvin was persuaded to take control of Geneva and its Church. He thought that the way the country was run should be inspired by religious teachings and enforced the judgements of the Church in his rule –
Geneva became an very intolerant place where torture, beheadings and being burned at the stake would be the result of going against churches (and therefore the governments) teachings.
this form of government is called a theocracy
Calvin introduced strict moral codes and the people who followed these were clearly recognisable:
Henry VIII (1491-1547)
Henry VIII Split the Church of England from the Pope's authority in Rome and became head of the Church of England after Pope Clement VII refused to grant him a divorce to his first wife Catherine of Aragon (who had failed to give him a male heir).
The Reformation Parliament passed a number of laws between 1529 and 1536 which resulted in England's break from Rome.
The Supremacy of the Crown Act passed by this parliament established Henry as the head of the Church and he ordered Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to grant his divorce.
Under Henry VIII the Church in England was Catholic in all but allegiance to the pope. The Ten Articles of 1536 and the Six Articles of 1539 reaffirmed the status of the Mass and traditional doctrine (beliefs taught by the Church).
The Church did not become Protestant during Henry's life and his one anti-Catholic move was to close down the monasteries (1534-1541).
Henry VIII was succeeded by his son Edward VI who was young and strongly under the influence of his Protestant uncle, Edward Seymour. He along with Archibishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer abolished Henry's legislation and moved England towards Protestantism.
Fundamental Protestant doctrines were to be read in churches and in 1549 Cranmer produced the Book of Common Prayer which was compulsory, replaced the Catholic missal and completely changed all of the old liturgy.
In 1553 a formal Protestant Creed was also produced which consisted of forty-two articles of belief. This had to be accepted by all English people or they would be punished.
When Edward died he was succeeded by Mary I who returned England to Catholicism. Mary became known as Bloody Mary because of her persecution of many who remained Protestant.
Elizabeth I took over the rule after her half-sister Mary died in 1558. Elizabeth was the real founder of Anglicanism. She took on the role of 'Supreme Governor of the Realm in Matters Spiritual and Temporal'.
She published the 39 Articles defining what Anglicans believed, this turned out to be a compromise with theology very close to Calvinism (Protestant), yet a style of government and worship which was close to Roman Catholicism. This became known as the Elizabethan Settlement. Protestants who protested against this compromise and couldn't accept it became known as Puritans and were regarded as traitors.
In 1559 two acts of Parliament, The Act of Supremacy and The Act of Uniformity, gave whoever was king or queen at the time (at this point Elizabeth) full authority over the Church of England and made all English people follow their rule. This mean that anyone who did not acknowledge this most recent change in religion would also be committing a political crime and punished. Parliament and Elizabeth believed this would be necessary for national security.
In order to help the Catholics in England who did not accept this settlement and were banned from celebrating the seven sacraments, Rome secretly sent a number of priests (who had trained in Rome) into England from 1574. An act was passed in 1585 making this illegal and over 300 people, 123 priests, were executed because of it.
Henry was not a fan of Luther and before his split from Rome he wrote a book called Fidel Defensor (Defense of the Seven Sacraments) in 1527. This book defended the Pope's status and the seven sacraments. Pope Leo X gave Henry the title 'Defender of the Faith'.
By the middle of the 16th century (1500's), however, as the seriousness of the Protestant split became obvious to everyone, there was pressure from within the Catholic Church to sort it's self out properly which resulted in the Church starting its own renewal process...
The Council of Trent
This council was one major element of success of this Catholic reform movement.
This was a General Council of the Church- a formal meeting of Bishops to discuss issues facing the Church - which aimed to:
- Clearly state Catholic teachings (especially those which had been challenged by Reformers)
- To reform abuses (e.g. fake relics and indulgences)
- To provide structures and guidelines for a renewal of Catholic life
- Some even hoped to make up with the Protestants (some attended the second part of the Council but no agreement was reached)
This turned out to be one of the most important Councils in Church history and it was largely responsible for revitalizing the Catholic Church, setting it on the right track which it would follow for the next 400 years
- The Council takes its name from the city of Trent (Trentino) in Northern Italy (close to German Protestant lands) where it took place.
- It lasted for 18 years 1545-1563 and had three stages:
1) Sessions 1-8 (1545-1549), interrupted by plague
2) Sessions 9-14 (1551-1552) cut short by war
3) Sessions 15-25 (1562-1563) final sessions.
- The number of Bishops present varied from 30-200
The work of the Council of Trent can be divided into two main categories; one concerned with doctrine (beliefs), the other concerned with the organization or discipline of the Church:
- Human nature is not totally depraved, and Justification (Salvation) comes through faith, hope and charity (love) which comes through good work
- Both Scripture and Tradition are expressions of God's revelation (inspired by God)
- The doctrine (belief in) transubstantiation (bread and wine are actually transformed into the body and blood of Jesus) was upheld
- The seven sacraments are upheld
- The Mass is a sacrifice. At every Mass the sacrifice of Christ is represented by the priest who is given the power to do this through the Holy Orders (the Sacrament of becoming a priest)
- The position of the Pope as the successor (person who carried on from) of St Peter and the Vicar (representative) of Christ was affirmed
These points were highlighted/defended by the Council as key beliefs of Catholicism.
These reforms were decided on by the Council to get the Church back in order
- A seminary, a place where priests were educated was set up in each diocese
- Decrees were passed against pluralism and absenteeism. This meant that Bishops and others who held religious offices could no longer be appointed multiple diocese or positions (pluralism) which they would earn from without performing their duties there (absenteeism)
- Indulgence selling was abolished (gotten rid of)
Reform in Practice
Pope Pius IV confirmed all of the decrees passed by the bishops of the Council and issued a summary of the main doctrines of the Council in the form of a creed to be publicly recited by Bishops and clergy.
Fortunately for the Catholic Church, the popes of this time were seriously committed to this reforming of the Church.
A new index (list) of Forbidden Books was created which aimed to prevent the spread if heretical ideas (ideas going against the Church's beliefs and teachings). This was updated occasionally and was used right up until the 1960's
The Roman Catechism was produced in 1566 which was a clear summary of Catholic beliefs. This was made to help priests educate lay (common) people on Catholic belief and practise's.
The Roman Missal (1570) set out a reformed and uniform order of Mass to be followed throughout the Catholic world.
These are important examples of the Catholic Church using the printing press to its own advantage
The Inquisition was brought back into use which was a controversial move. The Inquisition was a Church court used for trying people for heresy first used in the 13th century.
The Inquisition was known for its use of torture to extract confessions and the execution of some of those who were condemned.
The Popes also reformed the central groups which governed the Church, the Curia (a group of officials who govern the Catholic Church) and the College of Cardinals (advisers of the Pope).
The Society of Jesus
Pope Paul III, who called the Council of Trent, was looking for dedicated people to help him with the task of Reforming the Catholic Church. In 1540 he issued St. Ignatius of Loyola with the task of forming a Religious Order called the Society of Jesus. This group, which started out as Ignatius and nine dedicated friends, soon came to be called 'Jesuits' and all members took a special vow of obedience to the Pope.
Ignatius of Loyola devoted his life to developing the work of the Society and they became a leading force in the Catholic Reformation, growing from the original group of ten to over a thousand by 1556. By 1650 there were over 15,000. The Jesuits saw the importance of Education and set u schools, universities and acted as tutors for the children of influential Catholic families.
Many members of the Society of Jesus worked as missionaries in Asia and North and South America. One such missionary was St. Francis Xavier, a good friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola whom he had met studying theology in Paris. This evangelizing effort in Asia and the Americas was an important feature of the Catholic Reformation.
Missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were quite slow to realise that mission methods would have little chance of success unless they were adapted to the local customs of the people and still allowed them some expression of their own ancient cultures. However, three Italian Jesuit priests, Father Matteo Ricci SJ, Father Michele Ruggieri SJ and Father Roberto de Nobili SJ, are good examples of missionaries who did realise this.
St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)
Ignatius was a soldier until he was badly injured in the leg 1521 and spent months healing and not being able to move around. During this inactive time Ignatius read a copy of the Gospels, a a book on the Lives of the Saints which convinced him to change his life (his 'conversion'). He gave up on being a soldier, influenced by the likes of St. Francis of Assisi, and decided to become a great follower of Jesus.
Ignatius began to wear beggars clothes and drastically changed his way of life placing a great focus on prayer and fasting. He went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and wrote down his reflections which were published into a book - The Spiritual exercises..
Ignatius soent several years studying theology at universities in Spain and France and while he was in Paris he gathered together a group of friends who also wanted to devote their lives to God in a special way. They traveled to Rome with the intention of placing themselves in the service of the Pope.
Pope Paul III allowed Ignatius to form a new Religious Order called the Society of Jesus.in 1540 (see Catholic Reformation section for more info). Ignatius and many of his followers were later declared Saints of the Church. He was canonised by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.
St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552)
Francis was a friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola and Joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) with him. When the King of Portugal asked for some Jesuit missionaries to go to India, Francis was chosen to go. It was a hard journey which took a year and 29 days until they finally reached Goa, India, a colony of Portugal.
Francis found that in Goa, the rich Portuguese exploited the poor and treated them very badly. The people of Goa were mostly Christian and had been baptised as Catholic but they had very little instruction on their faith and it meant little to them. Francis left Goa not long after arriving and set out for Parava in Southern India.
Francis worked among the People of Parava for the next seven years. He lived like them, shared their food, learned to speak their language a little and taught them basic prayers and the Ten Commandments. He taught the children, looked after the sick and the poor, and said a Mass each week for the lepers.
At first, Francis was like all missionaries of his time and thought that all non-Christians were enemies of God and sought to wipe out their religious beliefs. Later, however, when he traveled to Japan in 1549, he came to understand the culture and values of this ancient people. He no longer believed he needed to destory other beliefs or places of worship but rather to change them by introducing Christian ideas.
Francis spent two years in Japan doing missionary work. After small Christian communities had began to grow there he decided to move on to China in 1552. Before arriving in China he became seriously ill and passed away.
The motto of the Society of Jesus is:
All to the greater glory of God
The Jesuits have provided some of the greatest leaders, teachers, missionaries and scholars in the Church ever since.
Converted Rome to Christianity
After the over-the-top glories of the Renaissance period (c.1500-1800) the Catholic Church had picked up some bad practices, such as the sale of something called 'indulgences' to raise money for questionable causes.
Meanwhile, Catholic missionaries traveled to distant countries and continents where they spread the Word of God to new peoples, such as those in Latin America, Africa, India, China and Japan.
By the mid-seventeenth century (c.1850) the way Catholicism had been spread throughout Europe had completely changed. These divisions in Christianity led to bloody wars as Catholic and Protestant (non-Catholic Christian) nations battled against one another.
Other 'reformers' (people who wanted to make a change to the Church's bad practices) were encouraged to follow his example and join the effort to reform (change/fix) the Church. The Catholic Church refused to listen to any of these proposals so the unity of Christianity became broken.
A man called Martin Luther, a German theologian publicly spoke out against such practices and is commonly said to have begun what came to be known as the 'Reformation'.
How has the Reformation affected us?
The Church is still divided but works to build unity
The Church keeps up to date on the issues which affect all of us e.g. stresses on our environment and things which put the sacredness of life at risk
The Church does not involve itself in the running of countries but has strong messages on how people and the environment should be respected.