Catholic Church in SixteenthCentury Europe

he mournful words of the Pontiff at that time, as he lay on his deathbed in 1559, clearly spell out the darkest moments of the Catholic Church. From the time of St. Peter there has not been a pontificate so unfortunate as mine. How I regret the past! Pray for me. (Pope Paul IV). The erosion of its bastion in Europe necessitated action from the Catholic Church to stabilize and maintain its presence in Europe. (1The age of the Reformation gave rise to the possibility of several national churches springing up in place of the Catholic Church. The prior attempts of reform, termed as heresy, and schism by the Catholic Church had failed, but the Reformist movement was not only proving a divisive force to Christendom in Europe but also threatening the might and existence of the Catholic Church.Over many centuries till the late medieval times the Catholic Church and in particular, the office of the papacy in Rome had become deeply embroiled in the political affairs of Western Europe. This involvement in politics had caused the Catholic Church to be a part of the intrigues and manipulations in the political life of those times. In addition, the power of the Catholic Church had allowed it to amass a great amount of wealth. This involvement in politics and amassing of wealth came at the expense of the spiritual values of the Catholic Church and led to many looking at the office of the Papacy and the Catholic Church as bereft of spiritual righteousness. Added to this was the sale of indulgences or spiritual privileges and relics, and corruption in the clergy that exploited the pious gave additional cause for the Catholic Church to lose its spiritual brightness. Therefore, it was not to be unexpected that the cry for the reformation of the Catholic Church would come from many parts of Europe.

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