The Counter Reformation
• The Church had been slow in responding to all the reform movements; other than
• Luther had first called for a general council as early as 1518.
• The German princes and the emperor favored such a council, but Rome feared it.
• Over the next 20 years the popes were preoccupied with political developments
throughout Europe, Wars.
• Rome was invaded in 1527; many saw this as judgment from God.
• Pope Paul III (1534-49) asked the College of the Cardinals to appoint a
• They wrote “Advice Concerning the Reform of the Church” in 1537.
– Office of Pope is too secular
– Bribery too prominent
– Abuses of indulgences, etc.
• Pope Paul III called a general Council – Trent.
• Francis I, King of France, opposed it, delayed it.
• Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor favored it.
• Two wars delayed it; finally convened in 1545.
Council of Trent
• Sessions held 1545-47; 1551-52; 1562-63
• Only 31 council fathers & 3 papal legates attended the first session.
• Italy was strongly represented; France was not.
• Some Protestants were at the second, but nothing resulted from it.
• Insisted that people must perform good works, lest they become lazy and
indifferent (Protestants: salvation by faith
• Emphasized God’s grace and human cooperation with God (Protestants: God’s
• Ignatius of Loyola: “Pray as though everything depended on God alone, but act
as though it depended on you alone whether you will be saved.”
• Insisted on the supreme teaching office of the Roman church – pope & bishops –
as the essential interpreters of the Bible (Protestants: scripture alone).
• Reaffirmed: Pope, 7 sacraments, sacrifice of the mass, saints, confessions,
• They entrenched themselves – began a standoff.
• Both Catholics and Protestants saw themselves as the true Church.
• More inquisitions, civil wars, & persecutions
• The Calvinists and the Jesuits led the theological battle (sometimes more than
• Pope Paul III approved the “Society of Jesus” as a new religious order, 1540.
• Purpose: to restore the Roman Catholic Church to its former position of
spiritual power and worldly influence.
• Ignatius Loyola was the leader.
• Emphasized “Spiritual Exercises”- meditation on sin, death, judgment, hell,
then Christ’s life, death, and resurrection
• To convert the heathen; reconvert Protestants
• Traveled to India, South East Asia, and Japan
• Eventually reclaimed France, Spain, Central Europe
• Northern Europe, England remained Protestant.
• The council of Trent inspired a renewed attention to spirituality and moral
reform within the church leadership.