Roman Catholic Reform

Thursday, November 9           

The Roman Church could not stop this movement.  They tried to abolish it by severe persecution, but the reformation movement didn’t just survive, it thrived.  The Catholic Church was a little slow to move away from coercion to compromise, partly because there was no consensus as to what to do.  Calling a plenary council would be in order, but it could pose more problems.  Unity would difficult, and changes would likely diminish papal power, which would be anathema.  Eventually, Pope Paul III called for a council which would meet in Trent, a city just north of Rome.  The stated goal of this Council was reform for reform’s sake, but it was obviously designed to woo Protestants back to the “true Church.”  That would require radical reform, which the hierarchy of the Church would never consider.  Lack of consensus, religious wars, and internal Church problems resulted in two postponements, but eventually it convened three different times over 18 years.  Protestant leaders were invited to attend the third session.  Trent accomplished nothing beyond confirming a few previous changes—just like Pope Innocent III’s Lateran IV Council back in 1213.  So much for Roman Catholic reform!

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