“Assess the contribution of 16th century popes to the Catholic Reformation” - Part 3

Furthermore his decision in 1536 to finally call the Council of Trent acted as a catalyst towards reform, as he became convinced that only a general council of the Church would save her as an institution. A benchmark for Catholic reformers to follow was created, dealing with doctrine and dogma side by side. A rigid disciplinary ethic was created which served to stop the abuses of the church, clearly indicating to Protestants that the Catholic Church has seized the initiative and was taking positive action towards reform. However it can be argued that Paul III cannot be entirely credited with establishing the Council of Trent. There had been need of a council for 100 years, and it was a convenient time for it to be called, considering the political context of Europe. Protestantism had a firm grip on Europe and the dangers of not calling a council were too great, suggesting that it was more of a forced decision. In this respect it can be argued that external factors were more important in driving reformation, without which the Catholic Church could have continued in its previously corrupt manner; for instance without the Protestant threat there would have been no need to call the Council of Trent. The fact that the council was called in 1536, but didn’t meet until nine years later 1546 shows how little input was made in driving it forwards. This indicates the slow progress made by the Catholic Church, if there was urgent need for the Council it should have been so great it should have assembled immediately after being called.

Part 2                                                                                                            
Part 4   
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