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Counter Reformation

Counter Reformation

Religion, ideology and institutions are three inevitable factions of society. Counter Reformation is one movement that changed the religion of Christianity, the institution of Church and ideologies of Christian followers.
SpiritualRay Staff
Also known as the Catholic Counter Reformation, it was basically a movement initiated by Church of Vatican against the 'Reformation' movement. The Reformation movement that began after 1510's, is considered to be start of Protestant movement. The Pretests or Reformers challenged the absolute authority of the Roman Catholic church, stringent rules and in some cases, corruption or other negative activities that were conducted by some of the priests. 1517 is regarded as the starting year of the protestant movement as Martin Luther's protest started in this year. The ending point of Protestant reform is considered to be the Treaty of Westphalia and the end of Thirty years war in 1648.

Its timeline is similar to that of the Protestant Reformation. This movement began in 1545 with the Council of Trent and ended with the Thirty years war. The two movements were opposed to each other and established several faiths within Christianity, most notably the Protestants and Catholics.

What was Counter Reformation?

The Reformation was reaction against some factions of the Catholic Church which added a considerably negative element in the religion such as orthodox illogical rituals, Inquisition, unsolicited 'selling' of forgiveness and posing false facts in the name Jesus Christ. The Renaissance which had introduced the concepts such as logic and rationality, set the thinkers minds ticking which led to the religions rebellion of Protestant Reformation. Several faiths opposed to the Catholic faith were established in the process.

Though some faction of Catholic Church had been blemished, the Vatican in itself was not corrupt and with the help of an organized council, known as the Council of Trent, the Catholic church launched the Counter Reformation. This movement by the Church had 4 objectives, namely, reforming the negative and corrupt factions of the Church, founding religious orders, founding spiritual moments and reforming the political actions of the Church. Though this was a very positive initiation of the Pope Paul III, the definition was in some cases, again abused, over-implemented, which unfortunately, led to events such as a rift in the Catholics and Protestants, Inquisition and the bloodiest war in European history, the Thirty year war. This initiative also led to the development of reformed art, which was dominated by Baroque and Mannerism, gave the world several famous paintings and sculptures. In addition to that reformation music also originated during this time period, which has influenced many composers till date.

Facts about the Counter Reformation

Let us take a look at some great features and facts of this period.
  • The first prominent example is, that of a person whom I worship, Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch Catholic priest, who took a staunch approach in reforming the church from within. Though a Catholic, he was never too strict about some baseless ideas and often presented logically backed and scientifically capable thoughts that were quite progressive in nature. His highly humanist writings awakened quite some souls. He contradicted gently, and reasoned with humble rationality. In such a manner he reached upon a certain truth, that is presented and quoted to be the greatest writing of that period.
  • The Society of Jesus was also founded round about this time, in 1534 by St. Ignatius of Loyola with a goal of professed vows of poverty and chastity.
  • Several other orders such as Capuchins, Ursulines, Theatines, Discalced Carmelites and Barnabites, also came into being with similar purpose of spreading Catholic faith.
  • In the year 1559, another development took lace when Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of books and literature that was banned and reading of such books was banned and forbidden, with severe consequences at hand was published. A similar list was Index Expurgatorius, which consisted of books that could be read after certain passages or pages had been removed.
  • The negative, or the dark part, of the Catholic Reformation was the Inquisition and forcefulness that was imposed upon some people. Problem was the Inquisition had a right to torture heretics and in several cases, also execute them.
  • The conflict of Lutherans and Catholics in Prussian region led to a severe war between several European powers which was known as Religious wars or the Thirty years war. Its history is very complicated as the powers clashed over several aspects such as territorial integrity, religious integrity, dynasty interests, etc. The basic problem was that the war started prominently as a result of the imposed faith on people, who, in frank words, did not accept it.
  • This movement indeed achieved some of its goals, but the Inquisition and the following wars put a blemish on the time period.
No faith is different from one another, religion is often viewed in several prospects and divine as it is, politics may corrupt it. Faith is more like love, it challenges logic, but at the same time it is highly rational. Protestant and Catholic faith are no different from one another. Both are paths of finding truth that God wants us to find. It may be a temple of truth, or altar of freedom, or simply a silent prayer for someone else, it's a path that we follow to seek the meaning and truth of life. Catholic faith teaches us to be a good person to become worthy of being blessed with the Almighty's salvation. Protestant faith also teaches us the same thing, but the difference is that it enriches ourselves to enrich others, and teaches us to go by the Holy Bible, but in quite a rational manner. The final effect is the same, we tend to be a society that takes a one step further into the development of civilization. The Counter Reformation was with effect a movement of reawakening of the Catholic faith.