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Was The Protestant Reformation Good For Catholics?
Pinochet

Posted on 09/21/2010 8:41:25 AM PDT by pinochet

Yesterday, a friend called me from Brussels, and he told me that Belgium is undergoing a huge sexual abuse scandal in their Catholic Church. Here is a news story on the scandal: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/belgium-priest-abuse-linked-to-suicides-20100911-155cp.html

I am a Catholic, and I love my Church, and the failings of individual officials of the Church will not undermine the faith that a billion people have in the core message of Christ and his Church.

I know that it is common for conservative Catholics to blame the sexual revolution of the 1960s, for the abuses in the Church. Unfortunately, sexual abuse of young boys in the Church has been going on for centuries. It seems to be a habit the Church picked up from the pagan Romans and the pagan Greeks, where sexual relations between men and boys was common place. For example, Pope Julius III (1487-1555), had a lover who was a 14 year old boy. The only reason why the boy is remembered by historians, is because Pope Julius made him a Cardinal at the age of 17, which caused a huge scandal in Europe in the 1500s. Here is the wikipedia entry on Pope Julius III: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Julius_III

In times like these, we Catholics should give thanks to our Protestant brothers in Christ, because they introduced free speech, democracy, and freedom in Europe and America, which has enabled the rotten apples in the Catholic Church to be exposed. Imagine what young boys used to suffer in Medieval Europe before the Reformation. Who could you complain to? There were no newspapers which could expose such scandals. There were no police to go to. Young boys simply suffered in silence for centuries.

European governments during the Middle Ages were like the Islamic governments of today. They were ruled by autocratic kings, with powerful clerics, who imposed a Catholic version of sharia law on Europeans, but the powerful never had to follow the laws they imposed on the masses.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Germany; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: catholics; priestsabuses; protestants; reformation
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Protestants also deserve credit for the capitalist system, in which money lenders were allowed to charge interest on their loans. This created the modern banking system, without which modern capitalism could not exist.

We should also not forget that the Catholic counter-reformation would not have taken place, without the pressure of the Protestant Reformation. Perhaps it is time for a new counter-reformation to clean up the Church.

1 posted on 09/21/2010 8:41:29 AM PDT by pinochet
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To: pinochet

I can’t imagine many Catholic Freepers will be happy with this article.

But I may be mistaken...


2 posted on 09/21/2010 8:43:57 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: wideawake

Hmmm...


3 posted on 09/21/2010 8:45:53 AM PDT by Borges
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To: pinochet

A refreshingly non-antagonistic perspective. Protestants have things to thank Catholics for as well of course, such as preserving the Scriptures, and helping to stop Islam from overrunning the entire known world. Maybe if we focused more on the good things the other side has done, we’d be a bit more loving towards one another :)


4 posted on 09/21/2010 8:46:28 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: pinochet

All right Harris, let’s not start a Holy War here. . .


5 posted on 09/21/2010 8:48:11 AM PDT by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: pinochet

I have always thought the parable about the tares among the wheat had application to the various contending denominations.

Doctrinally, I am more of a Calvinist than anything else, but I have seen Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Methodist and Baptist worship serve as vehicles of redemptive grace.

God will know his own, and will recover every one.


6 posted on 09/21/2010 8:49:36 AM PDT by Psalm 144 (Detente with the GOP nomenklatura - trust, but verify.)
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To: PetroniusMaximus

>>>>I can’t imagine many Catholic Freepers will be happy with this article

Why not? Catholic freepers are just as freedom-loving as the Protestant freepers. Because they love freedom, they also love Protestants who are faithful to their traditions.


7 posted on 09/21/2010 8:51:11 AM PDT by pinochet
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To: pinochet

As I am not Catholic, I don’t believe I am capable of answering your question. Instead, I would suggest a different question: “Was the Protestant Reformation good for Christianity?” In that case, I would answer in the affirmative.


8 posted on 09/21/2010 8:52:31 AM PDT by jettester (I got paid to break 'em - not fly 'em)
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To: pinochet

Wrong on most counts. Medieval Christendom was different from Islam where no worked-out distinction between spiritual and temporal rule exists. Medieval Christian political structure distinguished between spiritual and temporal rule. WHy else would there have been such conflict between kings trying to establish an Islam-type absolute temporal rule with the church subordinate to the state (Henry II and Becket)? And, in reaction, the bishops and the popes trying to rein in the kings.

An Islam-type total control by kings arose only with Protestantism—Henry VIII reduced the church to subjection to the state. The same thing happened in Germany (with Luther’s blessing—he saw the prince as the emergency bishop because he wrongly gave up hope for reform from within the Church and concluded it could only be imposed by the temporal rulers-he sanctioned state control of the Church—well-intentioned but fateful.) In Switzerland, the same thing, only it was the city council, not the king or prince.

Without the Protestant Reformation there would have been no COUNTER-Reformation, to be sure. But a reformation was underway in the 1400s. It had strong support across a wide spectrum of society. It was supported by popes until about 1465, then the popes abandoned it and frustrated reform until the 1540s. No historian can say what would have happened if the Protestant Reformation had not taken place. It did take place. But there were powerful reform movements underway. It’s plausible that they might have come to fruition even sooner, it plausible they might have been frustrated longer than they were. No one can say what “would have happened,” only what “might have happened” if you take variable X or Y (ProtRef) out of the equation.

The shift toward lending at interest with church approval was already under way long before the Protestant Reformation. As a more sophisticated credit system emerged in the 13th and 14th centuries, Catholic thinkers were reevaluating how one defines “usury.” Again, it’s perfectly plausible that the capitalist system as we know it could have emerged without the Protestant Reformation. Then again, it might not have.


9 posted on 09/21/2010 8:53:55 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: pinochet

“Was the Protestant Reformation Good for Catholics”

It was certain good for the founding of the United States. Protestantism, moral autonomy.


10 posted on 09/21/2010 8:56:45 AM PDT by ryan71 (Let's Roll!)
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To: pinochet

Competition and accountability is seldom bad.

I would take a on-fire-for-Christ Protestant as a neighbor than a CINO, any day.


11 posted on 09/21/2010 8:57:24 AM PDT by TheThirdRuffian (Nothing to see here. Move along.)
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To: pinochet

I should correct one poorly written phrase. Absolutist monarchy arose only at the time of the Protestant Reformation. It was not simply a byproduct of Protestantism—the trend was much older. But the Protestant Reformation only became permanent because absolutist rulers backed it. At the same time, absolutism was arising among Catholic rulers in Spain and France, for instance. The pope’s resisted it. So the movement toward absolutism is not a product of Protestantism but was embrace by Protestant kings and town councils and approved of by Luther (he assumed that under a Christian absolute ruler things would be good and the Church would be reformed, which he believed could not happen otherwise).

The movement arose from forces bigger than either Protestant or Catholic beliefs and affected both Protestant and Catholic countries. But whereas Luther approved it (Calvin did not), the popes opposed it (to no avail). It became law in Protestant countries but was outside the law in Catholic countries but no less real in Catholic countries for being de facto rather than de jure.


12 posted on 09/21/2010 8:58:55 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: Houghton M.

“Henry VIII reduced the church to subjection to the state”

Like the French kings didn’t do that to the Popes in their time.


13 posted on 09/21/2010 8:59:05 AM PDT by TheThirdRuffian (Nothing to see here. Move along.)
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To: Boogieman

“Protestants have things to thank Catholics for as well of course . . .”

Indeed. One of the principal things - to my Protestant eyes - is the emphasis on the heart and spirit - simple, plain aspects of humanity. In extreme form, classical Protestantism can become almost exclusively intellectual. Logic, like the Law, is a properly a guide but not a dictator.

Culturally, the balance that the Orthodox achieve is very attractive. Doctrinally, well . . . I am a Protestant.

Having said that, God bless and keep us all, and deliver us from evil.


14 posted on 09/21/2010 9:01:03 AM PDT by Psalm 144 (Detente with the GOP nomenklatura - trust, but verify.)
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To: Houghton M.
The authority of the nationstate over the church didn't arise with Protestantism ~ in fact, it wasn't codified until the mid 1600s with the Peace of Westphalia (a series of treaties ending the 30 Years war).

To a degree some earlier Catholic states actually exercised more authority over the church than did any states, Catholic or Protestant, after Westphalia.

15 posted on 09/21/2010 9:04:59 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: pinochet

The story of the role of Protestantism in the rise of modern culture, capitalism, individualism etc. is normally told, in Anglo-American textbooks, from a Protestant bias, understandably. The 1500-1700s look quite different if viewed from Italy or Spain rather than England. Our textbooks only view it from England. Spain is evil, England is good. Francis Drake is fighting for Freedom, Spaniards only know slavery. (In actuality, Drake was a pirate, a pirate authorized by the Queen; the Queen was at tyrant who brooked no opposition whatsoever.)

This must be taken into account when people on FR think about Protestantism/Catholicism and the modern world.

In actuality, medieval Europe was more free than early modern Europe, more individual freedom, more room for mobility etc. After 2 or 3 centuries of absolutism, you get a reaction from the bourgeoisie that eventually topples the absolute monarchs and mercantilism and opens up the free market world and creates representatve republics. But this is reacting to Protestant as well as Catholic absolutist monarchs, not reacting to medieval Christendom.

The closest to a representative constitutional government, the least absolutist regime in Europe in the 1600s was Poland because the kings remained relatively weak and never crushed the nobles as the kings did in England and France. In Germany the king/emperor was weak but neither was their a unifying of all the German nobles like the Polish nobles were unified. So you get checkerboard absolutism in Germany. In Catholic Poland you get the only non-absolutist regime (the weakness of the kings was in part due to the mishmash of Protestant and Catholic nobles in the 1500s—Poland only became staunchly Catholic and relatively free in the 1600s and 1700s because of re-catholicization.)

But our textbooks don’t even pay any attention to what was happening in central Europe and totally miss out on this alternative to the absolutism of the West.

After the kings crushed the nobles in England and France, they tyrannized for 300 years (including reduction of the church to a department of state) until the bourgeoisie, not the nobles, rose up and overthrew them. That’s what the American Revolution was all about; so too, in the broad view, was the French Revolution, even if it differed from the American. The so-called “Glorious Revolution” in England in the 1600s also to some degree represents the beginning of the bourgeois ascendancy.

The Protestant Reformation has little to do with this. When it was coopted by absolutist rulers, it actually made possible the horrific wars of religion. Only in exhaustion after these wars did we eventually get our modern systems of republics (which we then threw away in favor of stupid democracy).


16 posted on 09/21/2010 9:11:33 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: pinochet

Well, no. It’s a pretty silly article.

Homosexuality was never a specialty of the Catholic Church, inherited somehow from the pagans. Homosexuality is a defect of nature, which is found in small percentages among people everywhere. And sin is a common condition of mankind, in or out of the Church.

It’s only more serious in the Church because the Church is the Bride of Christ, and its members should know better. But we are all sinners. The fact is that homosexual abuse was far less common in the Catholic Church than elsewhere. And it’s open abuse was mainly a product of the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, which infected everyone, not just Catholics. Sexual abuse in the public schools, to take one instance, is far worse than it ever was in the Church. It’s just that it shouldn’t be in the Church at all, and of course we must continue to fight to oust those few remaining bishops and clergy who support it.

Also, only ignorance of history would equate Catholic kings with Muslim rulers. There was always at least some division between Church and State in Catholic Christendom. The Popes and the Emperors fought one another for centuries for control of the Church, and the Popes won.

I’m not saying that kings and aristocrats did not abuse their positions. But they did not do so with the consent and support of the Church. In contrast, Islam makes no division between religion and politics. The Sultan was all powerful. And the rulers were far more arbitrary than Christian kings ever were. And they acted with the support of Islam, whereas bad Christian kings acted against the teachings of Christianity.

This guy doesn’t understand basic history very well.


17 posted on 09/21/2010 9:13:51 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius.)
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To: pinochet
Protestants also deserve credit for the capitalist system, in which money lenders were allowed to charge interest on their loans. This created the modern banking system, without which modern capitalism could not exist.

That system existed for centuries in Italy and the Netherlands before the Reformation.

And certain movements within Protestantism tried to ban capitalism - for the first century of Protestantism, the Reformed economic system was an open question.

Your comment also ignores the important Jewish contribution to Europe's economic development - an essential factor.

18 posted on 09/21/2010 9:16:45 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: muawiyah

Sorry, you are incorrect. Cuius regio, eius religio, the state-church system, de jure, was pioneered in Zurich in 1525. It was endorsed by Luther when he backed the Schmalkald League. Its first broader application was at the Augsburg Diet of 1530, then asserted by Henry VIII in the 1530s, then in the Augsburg Interim of the 1550s. Calvin opposed it.

It is not true that Catholic rulers exercised greater control over the Church. At the very least, the church in their lands was still an international institution. They effectively limited the pope’s power but de facto rather than de jure, except in France. That is very different from the de jure seizure of power over the Church by Henry VIII or by the Zurich town council and many other German and Swiss town governments and territorial princes.

By rejecting papal authority, Protestant rulers rid themselves of that pesky pope who limited their power—sometimes not by much but he was always there, threatening absolute control, for Catholic kings. In Protestant countries, he was
just
plain
gone,
out
of
the picture, de jure.

It made a difference. There are no de jure state churches in Catholic countries, only in Protestant countries. There is something like a de jure state church in Catholic countries of the ancient regime.

But something like is no the same as the thing it resembles.

Therein lies the difference.


19 posted on 09/21/2010 9:17:48 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: pinochet

I should add that a de jure state church does come into being in Catholic Austria but only at the tail end of the absolutist period, in the 1700s, about the time the absolute kings are about to be overthrown.


20 posted on 09/21/2010 9:19:02 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: Houghton M.
You're just blowing wind. Did you not check the "qualifiers" ~ I clearly used SOME and ANY.

Fur Shur in 1066 William was going to invade and take over England with or without the Pope's approval.

A minor example, but still an example.

21 posted on 09/21/2010 9:21:26 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: TheThirdRuffian

They tried.

Henry succeeded.

There’s a difference.

If you read what I wrote, you’ll note that kings throughout the Middle Ages tried to control the Church. The French kings in the 1300s were trying and they were more successful than any kings in the past.

But Henry VIII and the town council of Zurich made the 14thc French kings look like pikers on the scale of absolutist control.


22 posted on 09/21/2010 9:22:08 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: Houghton M.

I am well aware of short-comings in Protestant history. But it is time that Catholics and Protestants formed a united theological front, to fight the threat that radical Islam poses to the Christian civilizations of America and Europe.

Certainly, the best thing about Medieval Catholicism, is that it stopped Muslims from taking over Europe. We need to bring back the fighting spirit of King Richard the Lionheart, and other great warriors who defended the Christian civilizations of the West, if Christianity is to survive in the long-term.

The only true warrior against radical Islam in Europe happens to be an ex-Catholic, Geert Wilders, who is now an atheist. He is fighting a lonely battle, and Christians are not doing enough to help him. It is time that Christians fought back, in defense of their civilization.


23 posted on 09/21/2010 9:27:33 AM PDT by pinochet
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To: muawiyah

William is a poor example. He did it as a temporal ruler in the two-sword context, acting on his claim to the throne. By the two-sword understanding, the Church did not normally get involved in adjudicating claims to thrones. Bishops did criticize kings who used naked abuse of power in unjust wars—e.g., Bishop Hugh of Lincoln against Richard I in Richard’s wars in France. Or Hugh’s dressing down, while still an abbot, of Richard’s father, Henry II—who actually listened to Hugh and changed his tune, on occasion. It took guts to face down a king who had contributed to the murder of an archbishop. Medieval kings simply were not absolutist rulers, certainly not William the Conquerer. William was dependent on his nobles’ support. Absolutist rulers had crushed the nobles’ effectual power. That you confuse William I with Henry VIII shows you are the smoker.


24 posted on 09/21/2010 9:28:00 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: pinochet

I welcome a united front of Protestants and Catholics against Islam. But it’s going to have to start by being honest out our histories. The article is not helpful in that regard.

There’s plenty of black pages in Catholic history. I’m all for being honest about them. But also the black pages in Protestant history and above all, being honest about the way in which the Protestant Reformation, which started (Luther) as an honest and good call for reform within the Church, was coopted by emerging absolutist rulers and used as a tool to create the state-church system and mercantilism against which our republic emerged.

We should make common cause, but it needs to be done in honesty, not special pleading.


25 posted on 09/21/2010 9:31:30 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: Houghton M.
Hardly ~ William was intent on getting a crown.

Half a millenium later Henry owed more to his Grandfather Rene of Anjou than to Protestant theory. Rene had two wives, three concubines and made himself a Cardinal.

These guys did more than trade rugs with the Turks!

26 posted on 09/21/2010 9:34:16 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: pinochet
Perhaps it is time for a new counter-reformation to clean up the Church.

What would that look like?

27 posted on 09/21/2010 9:42:42 AM PDT by Last Dakotan
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To: Houghton M.
Your history is seriously distorted. The leading absolute monarchies in early modern Europe were France and Spain.

The Tudors hold on power after Henry VIII was precarious and by no means absolutist. James I believed in the divine right of kings, but when his son tried tightening his grip it ignited a civil war that flared off and on for decades until the Glorious Revolution settled the question and established England as a constitutional monarchy.

The Protestant power that bedeviled Louis and for a time was the most prosperous Protestant country in Europe was the Netherlands, which famously and nearly disastrously limited the power of its monarchs.

The idea that absolute monarchy was a Protestant invention is just wrong. You seem to base the theory on the fact that Protestant princes decided whether their countries would be Protestant or Catholic, but the same prerogative was recognized and exercised by Catholic princes.

Drake sailed under Letters of Marque. To England he was a privateer and to her enemies he was a pirate. Catholic states also issued Letters of Marque - it was a standard tool of war until the practice died out in the 19th Century.

28 posted on 09/21/2010 9:59:09 AM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: jettester

Yours is the more important question.


29 posted on 09/21/2010 10:00:52 AM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: pinochet

The Protestant Reformation and the NEED for the same was BAD for ALL of Christianity.

While Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians and Protestant Christians and Other Protestant Christians were slaughtering each other over matters of theological doctrine, ISLAM was attacking in Central Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Asia, and even, by way of Corsairs, as far north as England, Ireland and Iceland.

TODAY, we have the mainstream Protestant lines - Episcopalian/Anglican, Methodist, and Presbyterian - in the main - tied up with politically correct Christianity, and the Catholic Church reeling from the damage of unpunished pervert priests. And all factions are STILL sniping at one another, albeit more subtlely.

MEANWHILE, history is ONCE AGAIN repeating itself with militant Islam invading western Europe, the United States, Subsaharan Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeastern Asia.

Just like Communism, with Islam its two steps forward and one step back - and it has been going on since the 600’s.

And even as far back as then, they were taking advantage of “Orthodox” Christianity versus various other flavors.


30 posted on 09/21/2010 10:06:08 AM PDT by ZULU (No nation which tried to tolerate Islam escaped Islamization)
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To: Boogieman

“Protestants have things to thank Catholics for as well of course, such as preserving the Scriptures, and helping to stop Islam from overrunning the entire known world. Maybe if we focused more on the good things the other side has done, we’d be a bit more loving towards one another :)”

Amen.

It’s good to have family discussions, but Christians of all traditions need to remember that the real enemy is out there, and his mission is to rob, steal, kill, and destroy.

We’re in a spiritual war first and foremost and Jesus Christ is our Victory.


31 posted on 09/21/2010 10:13:16 AM PDT by DallasMike
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To: Psalm 144

Yes, each church seems to have its particular good points, but it seems like we too often get bogged down in the doctrinal arguments, and forget that even if we disagree on those matters, we should be working together towards the same goals.

If you don’t recognize the authority of the Pope, but I did, don’t we still both recognize the higher authority of Christ? Like a family, we should keep these arguments amongst ourselves, but provided a united front to the world, whenever we reasonably can.


32 posted on 09/21/2010 10:24:54 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Houghton M.

“Medieval Christendom was different from Islam where no worked-out distinction between spiritual and temporal rule exists. Medieval Christian political structure distinguished between spiritual and temporal rule.”

I read his comparison with Islamic governments a little differently. I think his emphasis was on the fact that both Islamic states (even many today) and Medieval Christendom were imposing temporal punishments on their people for violations of spiritual statutes. Just as a heretic can be beheaded under Shariah, a heretic could have been killed by the Inquisition. The enforcement may have been less universal, but there is a legitimate comparison to be made.

More disturbing to me, is that Christ didn’t command us to kill anyone for our beliefs, while Mohammed did command his followers to do so. We took it upon ourselves, whether out of zeal or other motives.


33 posted on 09/21/2010 10:33:49 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: pinochet
Depending upon which side we prefer, you can always find historians that will support whatever view of the Reformation that we want. It is best to talk about reformations rather than a reformation. There was for instance, the Lutheran Reformation as opposed to the Radical Reformers. King Henry's reformation was not much of a reformation, but it was more of an institutional change. We have not even talked about Calvin's influence on the Reformation. He was a little late to the party. The Lutheran Reformation was a doctrinal reformation and not a moral cleansing. Neither Luther, nor Zwingli, nor Calvin were champions of democracy. There were some of the radical reformers that come closer to anarchists or communists in their political views than supporters of democracy. There is no doubt that democratic ideas eventually did spring from the seeds of the various reformations, such as we find in the English Civil War and the American Revolution.
34 posted on 09/21/2010 10:49:33 AM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: Houghton M.
they tyrannized for 300 years...

That’s what the American Revolution was all about

You mean that tyranny which allowed Englad to prosper like never before and incrementally gain freedoms in Parliament? You mean the American Revolution fought by British settlers who had had the freedom under that "absolutism" to travel and expand their autonomy until they gained enough strength to shrug off monarchy altogether?

Yes, many of the kings tried again and again to cling to divine rule, but at least citizens had only their own state governments to reform and not the over-arching rule of Rome which they had already succeeded in escaping centuries before.

35 posted on 09/21/2010 11:08:15 AM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Boogieman

You make my point. There was a distinction between temporal and spiritual in medieval Christendom—if temporal rulers were imposing punishments for spiritual crimes.

Islam doesn’t have the distinction. Therefore I distinguished between Islam and medieval Christendom.

So did you.


36 posted on 09/21/2010 11:28:26 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: pinochet; Houghton M.; don-o
Thanks for these thoughts, pinochet. I hope this leads to a good discussion.

I understand what you’re getting at. The spectacle of sin in the Church is sickening and shocking; and looking into the details over the ages opens up vistas that are even worse. Which uncovers a paradox.

First, let me tell you about something seemingly quite far afield, which nevertheless will serve for a comparison: Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights. (I ask your patience, it’s not a total digression: you’ll see when I sketch out the connection.)

Back in the 1970’s I was a member of an AI “adoption group.” We were assigned to write to, publicize, and generally advocate for “adopted” Prisoners of Conscience imprisoned because of political or religious persecution. At that time, some 35+ years ago, AI tried to do this in an even-handed fashion: You’d get one “adoptee” from a First World (Western) country, one from a Second World (Communist) country, and one from a Third World (underdeveloped) country. AI would send you background on your individual adoptees, plus country-reports and area-reports on the larger human rights situation.

What I noticed, was that there was a huge amount of information about political prisoners pouring in from, say, the UK or France; a far smaller amount from the USSR or Czechoslovakia; and virtually zero information about Prisoners of Conscience in, say, North Korea.

For Irish Republican Army people imprisoned in Northern Ireland, we could get photographs, pages of biographical material, transcripts of legal depositions, and practically daily updates on what was happening in the H-Blocks at Long Kesh. For Anatoly Koryagin, a dissident in punitive psychiatric confinement in the USSR, it was a year and a half before we could even find out where he was and what the charges were. For North Korea there was --- nothing. Not one name. The whole AI country report said something like, “There may be an unspecified number of dissenters in involuntary labor camps. No information available at this time.”

By now, you can guess where this analogy is going. In the UK, there was a huge amount of info. about human rights violations, precisely because the UK was, as a society, explicitly and officially opposed to such violations; and the victims (or putative victims) of injustice had access to the media, to lawyers, and ardent advocates who had the substantial moral weight of Anglo-Irish law and culture on their side.

Not so in the USSR, where there was little precedent for official self-scrutiny and no consensus that the abuse of dissidents was even wrong.

And if you went by the amount of available evidence, you’d conclude that North Korea was a paradise of liberty, when the truth was that the entire country was a gushing bloody sewer of human suffering.

So here’s Mrs. Don-o’s Amnesty International Paradox: the higher the standards of any group, the more minutely its violations will be exposed and examined, and the worse the group will appear to public opinion at large.

(With me so far? I’ve been thinking about this for 35 years.)

So you can say, “the sexual abuse of young boys in the Church has been going on for centuries,” but the fact is, the sexual abuse of young boys in the Church and out of the Church has been going on, not for centuries but for millennia, and rare has been the society which even saw it as a crime or a sin—--unless they had it spelled out to them by persistent and uncomfortable exposure to Leviticus, the Epistles of Paul, and Canon Law.

But only the “good” societies lay themselves under the microscope in recurrent episodes of conscience and conviction; in endemically fallen societies, crimes accumulate forever without exposure and without comment.

Similarly (another analogy here) who do you suppose practiced slavery in the New World: the Aztec-Inca-Maya civilizations, or the Spanish-Portuguese? Correct answer: both. But we know far more about the Spanish-Portuguese, because their culture had access to explicit Catholic teachings against slavery ---starting with Pope Eugene IV in 1435 protesting the enslaving of natives of the Canary Islands; and they had saints (like St. Peter Claver), scholars (like Bartholome de las Casas), jurists (like Francisco de Vitoria) and bishops (like St. Toribio) who kept preaching, writing, exposing, hitting away against the prevailing culture of sin.

In the case of slavery, you had, in short, the unfaithful against the faithful; just as, in the matter of sexual sin, you have the unfaithful against the faithful.

Much as we can value our Protestant brothers and free speech and democracy (I do), our Protestant brothers invented neither sexual virtue nor civic freedom. As I became more aware of Church history via, for instance, biographies of the saints, I began to realize that every century and every society has its characteristic sins, and in every age, the good (Catholic or Protestant or anybody else) have to strain every muscle against evils that seem on the point of inundating all.

I could go on, but won’t! ---Pausing fingers on the keyboard.

(If you are still reading, thank youfor reading this far.)

I hope this has opened up a different angle of oversight. What we have here, I think, is not some characteristically Catholic corruption, but the Amnesty International paradox: the higher a group’s virtues and values, the more likely its sins will be catalogued.

37 posted on 09/21/2010 11:34:49 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Christ said, 'I am the Truth'; not 'I am the custom.'"-- St. Toribio, Bishop)
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To: colorado tanker

You apparently think “absolutist” means the degree of dynastic security. That’s not what it means when used by historians. It refers to the claim claim by kings that all power and authority, even religious, rests with them, rather than being divided among kings, nobles, towns, bishops.

It was distributed among all the above in the Middle Ages. Kings and some bishops and some towns and some nobles tried to gain more power for themselves. The others resisted. That’s what Magna Carta was about. The nobles appealed to their legitimate authority/power role against the king’s overreaching.

You are talking apples to my oranges. So what if the Tudor dynastic grasp was precarious compared to Charles V’s (you err when you lump France in with Spain—1500s in France was dynastic chaos, far worse than Tudor England). Absolutism has nothing to do with precarious or solid hold on the kingship.

It has to do with the claims made by whoever holds the kingship, claims vis a vis other possible claimants.

It is a simple fact that Henry VIII claimed superiority over the Church in England. That’s royal absolutism.

Neither Charles V nor Philip II in Spain ever, ever, ever, claimed anything like that. De facto Philip controlled a lot of the church in Spain but he did it as an abuse of authority. Henry VIII openly claimed that his having absolute supremacy was right and good.

So did the city council in Zurich.

And that claim and Luther’s granting of authority to reform the church to the prince and all sorts of other Protestant moves were breathtakingly new.

Catholic rulers were moving in the same direction but were not as far along—they had to make these moves under-the-table because the claims violated Catholic beliefs.


38 posted on 09/21/2010 11:36:16 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Excellent post, Mrs. Don-o.


39 posted on 09/21/2010 11:38:22 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: trisham

I’ve been on both sides of the fence. My answer, is no. When I look at the 30 years war, would I argue it was worth it? No. Did Luther’s ‘reformation’, alter and fix the church? No. Did Henry VIII’s seizure of all the monasteries, and Elizabeth’s execution of Catholics worth it for the nebulous point of freedom from Catholicism, when the throne returned to a Catholic king after Elizabeth? No.

Quite the opposite. The only thing it produced is war and division. The Islam point is quite salient, when we were fighting ourselves, Islam marched right up to Vienna.


40 posted on 09/21/2010 12:08:43 PM PDT by BenKenobi ("Henceforth I will call nothing else fair unless it be her gift to me")
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To: BenKenobi

Yes, and history is repeating itself.


41 posted on 09/21/2010 12:27:21 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Houghton M.
By judging absolute vs. limited monarchy in terms of the treatment of the Catholic Church you are using a definition that no historian I'm aware of uses and one that leads to a distorted view of history.

The Tudors did not repeal Magna Carta. Elizabeth respected the prerogatives of Parliament and the aristocracy. She was constantly politicking to get the appropriations she needed.

In France, I had the Bourbons in mind. So, by your definition Henry VIII was an authoritarian because he took England Protestant but France was not, even though Richelieu actually made war on the French Protestants. And by your definition Louis IV wasn't an authoritarian King, even though he is universally regarded as such.

42 posted on 09/21/2010 12:42:34 PM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: Houghton M.

“They tried. Henry succeeded.”

Tell that to the Knights Templar.

(King owed them money, basically ram-rodded the Pope into screwing them. Church recently admitted it was used.)


43 posted on 09/21/2010 12:47:21 PM PDT by TheThirdRuffian (Nothing to see here. Move along.)
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To: Houghton M.

I think you still miss my point. Ecclesiastical authorities (spiritual authorities) were imposing temporal punishments (depriving people of property, torture, death) for spiritual offenses. It may not have been as widespread as some would like to make it appear, but I don’t think anyone denies that it happened.


44 posted on 09/21/2010 1:12:55 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Boogieman

No they weren’t. You really need to study up a bit. Temporal punishments were meted out by temporal authorities.

Because, you see, there was a distinction between two two forms of authority.

You’ve read too much Enlightenment cavilling at the Ancien Regime (during Absolutism) and too much Dan Brown.


45 posted on 09/21/2010 3:31:51 PM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: TheThirdRuffian

Yeah. That’s what I meant when I wrote that the French kings succeeded more than previous kings and emperors.

But there’s a huge gap between that instance of kings abusing power and Henry’s de jure creation of royal absolutist supremacy over the Church.

Thomas More would never have given his life to resist the French king’s abuse of power. He gave it rather than acknowledge the king’s claim of absolute supremacy over the Church. If you can’t see the difference, then, I guess there’s little point in continuing the conversation.


46 posted on 09/21/2010 3:34:44 PM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: colorado tanker

No, you distort what I wrote. I’m simply saying that in England royal absolutism was de jure over the Church as of Henry VIII and growing in all other areas until it reached its zenith under James I. Parliament was increasingly being reduced to rubber stamp, which is why the Civil War erupted. Please don’t tell me Elizabeth was some kind of nicey, nicey respector of liberties. For her courtiers and allies, yes. Her enemies got the the rack and sword.

I do not judge the degree of absolutism in terms of the treatment of the CATHOLIC church. That’s just plain false. I judge it in terms of de jure and de facto. It was de jure in Protestant territories, not just England but Zurich etc.

It was de facto in Spain and France. It became de jure in Austria at the tail end of the absolutist period.

I make no brief for Louis XIV or Richelieu. They were scoundrels. But the church was not reduced de jure to a department of state—that attempt came with the French Revolution and it failed.

Where in heaven’s name did I say that Louis XIV was not authoritarian? What part of de facto absolutism don’t you understand? It’s authoritarian for sure. De jure a settlement was reached (Gallican settlemetn) that left the Church freer than if it were a department of state. Not much, but some.

The situation in France was bad, but it’s not the same as Henry’s de jure act of supremacy. The popes fought against the de facto absolutism in Spain and France.

Absolutism was in the air. Both Protestants and Catholics embraced it. But Protestants are the ones who created the state church. Period. Catholic monarchs had to stop short of that, not because they wanted to—they’d have gladly created a state church just as much as Protestants did. But they had to stop short because the kings were still Catholic and reducing the church to a department of state could not be done de jure in a Catholic framework. So monarchs like Louis XIV had to work around it—de facto.


47 posted on 09/21/2010 3:46:46 PM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: Houghton M.

First of all, I’ve never read any Dan Brown at all, so I do expect an apology for that slander. Secondly, if the Inquisitions were established and authorized by the Papal Bulls, you cannot divorce them from Ecclesiastical Authority. Charles Manson didn’t actually murder anyone in the Tate-LaBianca killing spree, but he gave the order for it to happen, and every rational person agrees that he is the one who bears the lion’s share of the blame in the matter.


48 posted on 09/21/2010 4:04:11 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Houghton M.
Your argument is just going in circles. What I can discern is you think the Tudors were really, really bad rulers because they took England Protestant. You don't have much company there because the consensus is Elizabeth was one of the most successful and popular of the English monarchs. And no autocrat.

The suggestion James I was an absolute monarch is laughable. Yes, he believed in the divine right of kings, but he was constrained by the English constitution. He quarreled with Parliament throughout his reign because they wouldn't give him the money he wanted. He repeatedly prorogued Parliament in fits of pique only to call them back later when he ran out of money again. For his time his policies toward Catholics were benign. He never really had the time to try to establish an absolute monarchy anyway because it would have interfered too much with his hunting and other sports. The Civil War broke out because his son Charles foolishly tried to implement ideas the old man wisely didn't.

49 posted on 09/21/2010 4:41:36 PM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: colorado tanker

No, they were bad rulers, among other things, because they were absolutists. But they were not alone in that.


50 posted on 09/23/2010 1:09:36 PM PDT by Houghton M.
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