Evaluate the Actions the Church Took to Halt the Spread of Protestantism and Their Effects. Were They Successful?
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Evaluate the Actions the Church Took to Halt the Spread of Protestantism and TheirEffects. Were They Successful?Name: Akhil MongaStudent Number: 1000613419Course Code: HIS230H5FProfessor: Mairi Cowan TA: Edward Ho Due Date: Tuesday November 15, 2016The Roman Catholic Church spiralled further into a pit of scandal and corruption throughout the Middle Ages, initiating the Protestant Reformation, which began in the early sixteenth century and lasted till the mid seventeenth century. The Protestant Reformation originated in Germany and subsequently spread throughout the rest of Europe. Historians generally date the start of the Protestant Reformation to when Martin Luther published his document, called the 95 Theses, in 1517 and its ending can be debated anywhere from the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, which made it allowable for the coexistence of Catholicism and Lutheranism in Germany, to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years War. The Protestant Reformation was initiated in response to the growing sense of corruption and administrative abuse inside the Catholic Church by the powerful papal authorities. The reformers hoped to purify the church and the belief that the Bible, not tradition or papal authority, should be the sole source of spiritual authority. The Protestant Reformation put an end to the relative unity that had existed in Western Christendom under the Roman Catholic Church for the past thousand years. This was a vicious, often brutal, upheaval that splintered the Catholics of Western Europe into two branches of Christianity – the Protestants and the Catholics.In early sixteenth century Europe, a few theologians and scholars, such as Martin Luther, were beginning to question the teachings of the Catholic Church. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an Augustinian monk, as well as a university lecturer, in Wittenberg when he penned his 95 Theses in 1517, attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling indulgences in order to pardon sin. His 95 Theses proposed two central ideas—one was that the Bible should be the central religious/spiritual authority and the second idea was that humans are able to reach salvation only by the strength of their faith and not by their deeds. The Catholic Church deemed the 95 Theses, which would eventually become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, as provocative as it challenged the teachings of the Catholic Church. In July 1520, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull, also known as a public decree, which concluded that Luther’s writings were seen as controversial and offensive. The pope gave Luther 120 days to recant his writings in Rome. When Luther refused to recant his writings, Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther from the Catholic Church in January 1521 citing that Luther’s writings conflicted with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Although Martin Luther’s ideas had been in circulation prior to the start of the Reformation, Luther published them at a time in history that was ripe for religious reformation. It was his challenge of the Catholic ideology that sparked the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church was divided from there on, and the Protestantism that quickly developed was shaped by Luther’s ideas. This disruption of Catholic ideology triggered wars, persecutions and the Counter Reformation, which was the Catholic Church’s delayed but forceful response to the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church was slow to respond to the ideological innovations of Luther and the other reformers. The Council of Trent, which met on and off from 1545-1563, articulated and clarified the Catholic Church’s ideology to the issues that triggered the Reformation by reducing objectionable practices. The Roman Inquisition, which occurred in Italy, specifically in Rome, was modelled after the Spanish Inquisition to fight the threat of Protestant heresy. By addressing much of the corruption and criticisms that had weakened the Catholic Church, which had the reformers turn against the Catholic Church as a result, the Church managed to hold on to or reclaim most of Southern and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, by clarifying Catholic ideology, the Church anticipated to either reabsorb or neutralize the Protestant Reformation, while renewing the faith of the Catholic Church. Following the growth of the Roman Catholic Church and the accumulation of its power in the early Middle Ages, heretics surfaced across parts of Europe and came to be regarded as enemies of the Catholic Church. A crime of heresy was defined as a deliberate denial of an article of truth of the Catholic faith, and a public persistence to believe in that alleged truth. Pope Paul III was alarmed by the spread of Protestantism across Europe, especially by its entrance and dispersal into Italy. As a result, he took the suggestion of initiating an inquisition in Rome by Cardinal Carafa, who saw the effective Spanish Inquisition instituted by Ferdinand V and Isabella in 1479. The Roman Inquisition began in Rome in 1542 when Pope Paul III established the Congregation of the Inquisition. The Congregation of Inquisition was comprised of a group of six inquisitors who were independent from bishops in their jurisdiction and had the authority to hand out punishments to anyone except the pope. The purpose of the Roman Inquisition was to suppress the Lutheran heretics that had began to arise across Italy. Cardinal Carafa, who initially worked as the Inquisitor General and later became Pope Paul IV, decided to punish heretics in higher ranks most severely so that the heretics of lower classes would stop revolting against the Catholic Church and avoid receiving severe punishments like their upper ranked counterparts. The intent for the creation of the Roman Inquisition was to inquire into and change the beliefs of those whose teachings and beliefs differed from the Catholic Church’s teachings and beliefs and to instruct them in the orthodox (Catholic Church’s) doctrine. By punishing the higher ranked heretics, it was hoped that lower ranked heretics would see the falseness of the Protestant ideology and would return to the Roman Catholic Church. If the heretics continued in their heresy against the Catholic Church, Pope Paul III passed the suspects over to the civil authorities since the heretics violated not only Church law, but civil law as well. The secular authorities would then apply their own brands of punishment for civil disobedience, which at the time included death by burning at the stake.