Catholic Reformation Essay

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During the 16th century, Protestantism emerged as a new sect of Christianity. This process was not calm or peaceful in the slightest. Protestant leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin fiercely attacked and denied traditional Catholic beliefs, causing much controversy and debate upon religion. Many regions of Europe as a whole were converted to Protestantism, and many more Protestants emerged in areas where Catholicism remained the state religion. The Catholic faith became less and less appealing to people as the abuses of the clergy were now publicly addressed by reformers and a new, personal approach to religion was offered in Protestantism. In addition, rulers favored Protestantism as a state religion because it meant that no power needed to be shared with the Pope. The church thus needed a response to the Protestant Reformation, as it was going against everything they stood for. This movement against the Protestant Reformation is commonly referred to as the “Catholic Reformation”. This movement was directly operated through the Council of Trent, a council of high cardinals that met from 1645 to 1663. The Council of Trent was able to defend the Catholic faith against the Protestant Reformation by reaffirming Catholic beliefs and addressing the abuses of the church. In addition, separate institutions and religious orders like the Index of Prohibited Works, the Inquisition, and the Jesuits were able to check the growth of Protestantism as well.

The Council of Trent defended the Catholic faith by reaffirming traditional Catholic beliefs in a public manner, with no regards to Protestantism at all. The council of course declared that salvation was achieved through not only faith, but good works as well. The seven sacraments were clearly defined as vehicles of grace. The importance of the church in salvation was also reaffirmed. It was stated that Scripture and tradition were on equal footing, as opposed to the Protestant belief that Scripture was the only...
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