The Popes and European Revolution

By Owen Chadwick | Go to book overview
Save to active project

6 The Catholic Reformers

The motives which led men to want change were as various as possible.

At his simplest the reformer was the old medieval preacher who saw how people who came to church still murdered or fornicated, and wanted the Church to preach better, or discipline more rigorously, so as to raise the moral standards of Christian men. This kind of new Savonarola welcomed warm devotions and new cults and revivalist missions which stirred the hearts of the common people. If he were more sophisticated, he turned his attention to the training of pastors, so that more instructed or more devoted priests might help their congregations to righteousness—this was the reforming drive typical of the Counter-Reformation. If he were eminent and won high office, he found himself perplexed amid the legal niceties of State law and Church law and tried to amend the constitution—inevitably by seeking the aid of the State. For the glaring necessity was to take old endowments which did no good and convert them to parishes or causes which needed money; and such fiddling of rights of property or sacredness of trusts could not happen without the aid of lay ministers willing to risk hostility from vested interests—in short, using State power to trample upon ancient rights. If he were a lay politician, he was frustrated by this need every day; and how far he was prepared to go depended on his prudence or rashness, his ability to persuade lords or bishops, and the readiness of his sovereign to give up a quiet life and face trouble.

Into these traditions of the Counter-Reformation, and cutting across their assumptions, came a new kind of Catholic reformer. He may loosely be defined as one who turned against the excesses (as he saw them) of the Counter-Reformation. Though he stood by the inheritance of the Counter-Reformation, in wanting dedicated priests, celibacy of the clergy, the enforcement of the canons of the Council of Trent, he criticized some features of the Catholic tradition which the Counter-Reformation fostered. Get the people into church and all will be well?—but still they murder and fornicate, we should repel from church when we must. Make excuse for the sins of a suffering people, be gentle when you hear their confessions?—on the contrary, they may need severity, even to a refusal


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Popes and European Revolution


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 646

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?