Skip to comments.Was The Protestant Reformation Good For Catholics?
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.
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.
I can’t imagine many Catholic Freepers will be happy with this article.
But I may be mistaken...
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 :)
All right Harris, let’s not start a Holy War here. . .
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.
>>>>I cant 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.
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.
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.
“Was the Protestant Reformation Good for Catholics”
It was certain good for the founding of the United States. Protestantism, moral autonomy.
Competition and accountability is seldom bad.
I would take a on-fire-for-Christ Protestant as a neighbor than a CINO, any day.
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.
“Henry VIII reduced the church to subjection to the state”
Like the French kings didn’t do that to the Popes in their time.
“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.
To a degree some earlier Catholic states actually exercised more authority over the church than did any states, Catholic or Protestant, after Westphalia.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.