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The Catholic Reformation IINTRODUCTION Counter-Reformation movement within the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th and 17th centuries that sought to revitalize the Church and to oppose Protestantism Some historians object to the term as implying only the negative elements in the movement and they prefer designations such as Catholic Reformation or Catholic Restoration They stress the high spirituality that animated many leaders of the movement which often had no direct relation to the Protestant Reformation IIDEMAND for Reformation Cries for reform of the Church characterized the 15th century as Christians reacted to the scandal of the Great Schism and became more sensitive to religious abuses The Italian religious reformer Girolamo Savonarola scathingly criticized the worldliness of his contemporary Pope Alexander VI The so-called observantist movement within the mendicant orders tried to recall members to a more austere life and humanists such as Desiderius Erasmus attempted to create alternatives to the sterile speculations of academic theology Sincere as these efforts were they long remained uncoordinated and failed to have a perceptible impact on the institution as a whole IIIINITIATIVES TOWARDS REFORM Only when Paul III became pope in 1534 did the Church receive the leadership it needed to orchestrate these impulses towards reform and to meet the challenge of the Protestants One of Pauls most important initiatives was to nominate sincere reformers such as Gasparo Contarini and Reginald Pole to the College of Cardinals He also gave encouragement to new religious orders such as the Theatines Capuchins Ursulines and especially the Jesuits This last group under the leadership of St Ignatius Loyola consisted of highly educated men dedicated to a renewal of piety through preaching catechetical instruction and the use of Loyolas Spiritual Exercises for retreats Perhaps Pauls most dramatic action was the convocation of the Council of Trent in 1545 to deal with the doctrinal and disciplinary questions raised by the Protestants Often working in an uneasy alliance with the
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