European Counter Reformation 1545–71

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Map Code: Ax02417

The period of spiritual, intellectual, cultural and moral revival within the Catholic Church in the 16th and 17th centuries is known as the Counter-Reformation. It was not merely a reaction to the profound criticisms of the Protestants; its roots date back to the 15th century when calls for reform grew out of the criticism of the world attitudes and corruption of popes and clergy. Pope Paul III reacted to Martin Luther’s criticisms by convening the Council of Trent between 1545 and 1563, at which the Church defended and defined the important doctrines that were under attack. A new emphasis was placed on training and preparation for the priesthood, and a new Catechism summarized the Council’s teachings. The drivers of Catholic reform on the ground were the newly energized religious order, notably the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), founded in 1534, who spearheaded missionary initiatives across the globe. The reforms of the Counter-Reformation were enforced by the Roman Inquisition, established in 1542 to combat heresy and control doctrine and practice.

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