Disillusionment with the Catholic Church

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Jessy Burton
Mr. Read
G2
5/7/13

Although Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” on the door of a church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, there were a lot of people that were unhappy with the way things were. People grew dissatisfied with the way the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church in the fifteenth century for many reasons. Some were religious, some were political, and others grew out of social and economic unrest. After the Conciliar Movement had ended, Renaissance popes reasserted the supremacy of the papacy over churchmen in all parts of Europe. Early in the sixteenth century the assembled Catholic prelates in the Fifth Lateran Council formally reaffirmed the bull Unam sanctam of 1302, which declared the pope supreme in church and state. But at the same time the personal policies of the Renaissance popes were creating much dissatisfaction. Popes were granting indulgences for those who made contributions; this was encouraging people to believe they could purchase forgiveness of their sins, this lead to a decline in moral standards and separation of faith and morals. Other clergymen also aroused resentment. Bishops and abbots often acted more like noblemen than like servants of God, and uneducated or lazy priests and monks often did not fulfill their religious duties. Popular religious movements, too, led to criticism of Catholic practices and teachings. Wycliffe in England, Huss in Bohemia, and Eckhart in Germany taught thousands that the road to salvation lay, not in formal worship, reading, and study, but in personal, humble obedience to God. In an age when men were filled with fear – of the Turks advancing from the east, plagues and famines, wars and disease – religious groups promising salvation to their followers sprang up all across Europe. Humanists like Erasmus also criticized the church in books like In Praise of Folly and taught men to believe in the importance of personal ready and interpretation of the Scriptures....
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