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weaknesses of the church

weaknesses of the church - Ashley Morgan November 3 3006...

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Ashley Morgan November 3, 3006 Professor McSweeney History 101 The Catholic Church’s Inability to Suppress Dissent: Underlying Reasons With the Renaissance in full swing, the time was perfect for religious change. The commoner’s knowledge was increasing, opening the way for new ideas and making them more easily accepted and understood. These ideas that were eventually put into action form the basis of what is known as the Protestant Reformation. It is evident the Roman Catholic Church’s power fell prey to skepticism of its practices, the coming age of Humanism, and Martin Luther’s ideas. 1 Being that the Protestant Reformation was in the 16 th century, it found itself in the middle of some turbulent times. The Roman Catholic Church had only recently recovered from the “Great Schism”, indifference in Western Europe over whether the Pope should be the Avignon or Roman claimant. Also, the printing press was bringing literacy to the masses of lay people and spreading new thoughts and ideas that would have been impossible otherwise. At the time the Protestant Reformation kicked off, society was ready for change; perhaps this is why it came so easily. 2 During the age of the Renaissance and the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church was the most dominating force in Europe. One would hope all this power was divided, but this is not the case, the heads of the Roman Catholic Church held most of the power at the top. There was a hierarchy in the church, the pope and his papacy, then the Cardinals and Bishops. Through religion, law-making, wealth, or ownership, the hierarchy had some sort of control or impact on
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every life in Europe. One would assume that the authority of the Roman Catholic Church would be used in a moral manner, but this was not always the case. “They did, however, scandalize the faithful and failed to provide spiritual leadership, for their interests ran more to politics and war, art and literature, hunting and luxurious living than to their apostolic duties.” 3 Roman Catholic popes overstepped their boundaries. Many popes were chosen by political status and acted as if they were part of the monarchy. Using their holy offices for personal benefit, the Roman Catholic hierarchy could climb the feudal ladder. Their focal point was not upon instilling faith or spiritual leadership, but on their political and military control over the Papal divisions. The detected motives and abuse of authority of the Church made the public uneasy.
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