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.
15 Oct. 2009. <http://www.thedeclarationofindependence.org/SamuelAdams.net/>. Puls, Mark. Samuel Adams Father of the American Revolution. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Decline of the Church’s Power in the Middle Ages Applying the Anna Karenina principle to the Church in the Middle Ages shows that, in order for the church to maintain power it must succeed in all things in the eyes of the people such as caring for the sick, providing spiritual guidance and undisputed primacy. If it is missing one necessary element then it will fail regardless of the other elements that it does possess . The church’s power began to decline in the late middle ages because it became more concerned with protecting itself and gaining wealth and power, than with the people it was supposed to serve. The church’s one missing factor during the Middle Ages and after was the trust of the people. The church lost the trust and support of the people first because of the effects of the Crusades which resulted in many difficulties and new ideas and then was unable to provide the answers and services that the people expected during the times of famine and plague.
First he decreed an edict of toleration, which in essence greatly appealed to the Christians who were a minority in his empire, as it allowed them to practice their faith without government persecution. Secondly Constantine returned all church property which had been seized during the persecutions and also patronized the Christian church by diverting the imperial funds from the many different pagan cults to the church. Constantine also appealed to the Christian church in matters of doctrinal disputes that had risen in the church as a sort of mediator between the conflicting groups attempting to unite the church as one. This was done by funding and presiding over numerous councils and meetings attempting to have a united church, this must have greatly influenced the bishops of the Christian church. With the Donatist controversy Constantine eventually appealed to them using force, attempting to persuade them to Catholic Church.
He believed that the indulgences were unjust because the indulgences were aimed at wealthy people who had the money to buy them while poor peasants were too poor to afford them. John Calvin believed in pre-destination, a belief that people were chosen to go to heaven or hell when they were born, and nothing can change that. He also brought reformation in the city of Geneva, restricting gambling and dancing. Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483. He is famous for his 95 Theses, where he attacked the Catholic Church for selling indulgences and the corruption in the church.
We see an example of one of Luther’s critical writings in Document 8. In this Document we see Luther take a strong anti Catholic stance and even go so far as to condemn the Pope. Document 9 also serves as another example and shows Luther’s being critical of the Churches officials and the need for priests by clamming “every baptized Christian is a priest already.” This last point struck a major cord with the peasants in Europe. Luther was telling them they could gain their own salvation by studying the bible for themselves. No longer would they need to be dependent on the Church.
1908. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04543c.htm (accessed December 8, 2011). [ 2 ]. Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume I: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2010. [ 3 ].
John Carroll faced the challenge to depict what democratic ideas could he incorporate into the Catholic Church. He pondered on the fact that many settlers migrated to the New World fleeing the oppression of an established church in Europe “and resolve not to duplicate that situation in the New World”(2). Settlers of America suspected that the Pope would make it difficult to American Catholics to stay loyal to this country and “to enjoy their full democratic rights”(2). Bishop Carroll concluded that he needed to persuade Americans that that was not the case. He went through great pains to prove that Catholics were in fact subject to Rome and that the Pope would only influence them in spiritual matters.
For example in the Lincoln Articles it states that the rebels wanted “an end to suppression of religious houses” and “bishops in England do not have… the faith of Christ”. Furthermore in the Pontefract Articles, it is said that the rebels wanted “the Pope as the Supreme Head of the Church of England”, “to end the heresies within this realm.” This shows that the Pilgrimage was a reaction from the peasants after the Break with Rome. Moreover the rebels marched behind the Five Wounds of Christ, showing that the peasants were heavily influenced by religion. Also, in the 16th century religion held communities together as people prayed and paid for the rituals of the Church, so the dissolution would have affected this. Historian Geoffrey Elton says that the uprising was religious and associated with Catherine of Aragon.
Martin Luther, a German monk was born during a time of corruption within the Catholic Church. The Church had upmost power and was highly influential on the adherents. The issues of indulgences, simony and nepotism were becoming major issues and they were pulling the church further away from the true teachings and practices displayed by Jesus. Luther objected to these issues and his protests intensified when a Dominican monk named John Tetzel who quoted “When the money clangs in the box, the souls spring up to heaven”. The Black Death also led to a lack of Christian teachings with uneducated priests and clergy.