Assess the Reasons for Catholic Opposition to the Reform of the Roman Catholic Church in the Period from 1492-1610 Essay

1086 WordsOct 21, 20145 Pages
At the end of the 15th century, the Catholic Church was in a bad condition. There was much corruption including simony and pluralism. The Renaissance Popes such as Alexander VI were extremely scandalous and provide no spiritual leadership and instead acted as secular rulers. The emergence of Lutheranism in the 16th century meant that reform now became a matter of urgency however there were many obstacles to be overcome. For reform of the Catholic Church to take place, initiative had to come from the top i.e. the Papacy. The Papacy however was a block to reform. Popes such as Clement VII refused to convene a general council to reform the Church due to the conciliarist threat; if the conciliarists were successful (as they had been in ending the great schism in the 15th century) supreme authority would lay with the general council and not the Pope. The papacy therefore had a strong vested interest in the failure of the conciliarist movement and therefore avoided convening a general council. Even when Julius II had convened a general council, Lateran V it was disbanded in 1517 as conciliarist feelings ran high. The papacy was arguably the biggest block to reform because in order for reform to successfully take place it had to come from the top of the hierarchy. Even when Paul III had decided to convene a general council there was still opposition to reform because there was no agreement on which way reform would take place, would the Church compromise with the Protestants or not. Paul III and Charles V had vastly different expectations of the council; Charles V hoped that the general council would end the schism by removing abuses which both protestant and Catholics had complained about for so long – Charles was convinced that the removal of these abuses would stem the tide of defection from the Church. He anticipated the council would then agree on definitions of

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