The Counter Reformation, or the Catholic Reformation, was an attempt by the Catholic Church to reform itself and also try to stop the spread of the Protestant religions that had emerged (Luther, Calvin..). The Catholic Church wanted to win back the people that they had lost and fix the problems in the church. The Counter Reformation was also a way to revive the moral authority of the church. (see previous post ‘Reformers Reform What?’).
So, what did the Church do to fix all of these problems?
The Council of Trent 1545:
The Council of Trent was set up in 1545. It reaffirmed Catholic views that protestants challenged. It tried to end the abuses of the church.Penalties were introduced for corruption and worldliness. Schools were introduced to give priests and the clergy a better education. Priests would be able to read Latin and also understand what it was they were preaching. Because of this, Catholicism remained the most important religion in Europe
There was still a divide between Catholics and Protestants and the wars of Religion continued
This was a church court during the counter reformation. It used secret testimonies and punishments to stop Heresy (having an opinion opposite to the Church authority).
Certain books were banned because they were too immoral or irreligious – included books by Luther and Calvin. This was called Censorship. This Inquisition stopped the protestant religion spreading to Spain and Italy, but a lot of innocent people were wrongly convicted during this time
People were burnt at the stake in a ceremony called Auto da Fe. Many times, innocent people were killed.
Ignatius of Loyola:
Ignatius of Loyola set up the Society of Jesus in 1540, to combat heresy and to spread the Catholic Faith. Ignatius saw himself as a ‘Soldier of God’ and introduced a strict program for Jesuits to follow. These Jesuits became advisors for Catholic Rulers.
This meant that these priests were better trained and they travelled to spread Christianity and stop the spread of Protestantism.
Teresa of Avila:
Catholics had renewed feelings of faith during the Reformation. Teresa of Avila set up an order of nuns that was stricter than before. The main focus was on meditation and prayer. She was sent to reorganize convents and monasteries in Spain.
Results of the Counter Reformation
- Europe became divided into Catholic and Protestant countries.
- Wars continued between Catholics and Protestants all over Europe.
- Catholics and Protestants were being persecuted.
- People were educated against the opposing religion and better educated in their own religion.
- Protestant leaders wanted children to attend school to learn to read the Bible.