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Counter Reformation

church, abuses, protestant and catholic

COUNTER REFORMATION, a move ment that assumed importance in the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century, and lasted from 1560 in the pontificate of Pope Pius IV to 1648, the end of the Thirty Years' War. Before the Protestant Reformation the synods and provincial councils of the Church had always considered and acted upon points• requir ing reform. Luther, as a Catholic priest, em phasized the urgent need for further reforms of abuses which were creeping into the Church. When he seceded and became a Protestant, the reformation movement in the Catholic Church continued, growing in its formidable aspect to a more or less definite and avowed attempt to counteract the Protestant Reformation. It was an inevitable outcome of the very conditions that produced the great schism. Among those who shared the widespread discontent with existing abuses in the Church and who longed for a return to its apostolic purity and sim plicity, there were many who remained loyal to the parent communion and believed in the pos sibility of an internal reform. There were others whose piety and sincerity of motive were more questionable, but who from wise policy advocated an amendment of life and doctrine, perceiving that moral and not physical force was required to keep wavering adherents within the Church's pale and to regain those who had broken away. The Council of Trent was one of the most prominent of the factors in the problem counteracting the spread of the Re formed faith. Conciliatory measures which

were originally intended were abandoned after the fifth session and attention was concentrated on the reaffirmation of doctrines questioned by the Protestants and on regulations for the puri fication of the Church. Although Macaulay's estimate of the Jesuits' share in the Counter Reformation is exaggerated, the devotion and zeal of Loyola and his followers undoubtedly played a large part in the abatement of ecclesi astical scandals and abuses. The Jesuits per ceived that in an age of intellectual ferment and inquiry the Church must control the education of the better classes if she would retain her spiritual influence with them J and in the per fectly organized Society of Jesus they offered her an instrument fitted for the task. The rep resentative and punitive features of the Coun ter-Reformation as illustrated by the work of the Inquisition (especially in Spain and in the Netherlands), and by force of arms, banish ment, confiscation and other political penalties, are familiar, being more frequently dwelt upon than the changes taking place within the Church. Consult Pennington, A. R., 'History of the Counter-Reformation) (London 1900) ; Ward, A., (History of the Counter-Reformation> (New York 1889) ; Wiedemann, (Geschichte der Reformation and Gegenreformation) (Enna, 5 vols., 1879-86).