127 Catholicism (Five Hundred 11)

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Although the focus of this class is on the history of Protestants of various stripes, it’s also important to realize that Catholicism changed a good deal during the last five hundred years. In this lecture, you’ll get a brief sketch of the history of significant Catholic movements and doctrinal declarations during this period, including the inquisition, Council of Trent, the Jesuits, doctrines about Mary, the first and second Vatican Councils, and much more.

This is lecture 11 of a history of Christianity class called Five Hundred: From Martin Luther to Joel Osteen.

All the notes are available here as a pdf.

—— Notes ——

Initial Responses to Reformation

  • Pope Leo X thought Reformation was just a drunken brawl among German monks
  • 1541 Regensburg Colloquy


  • started in 12th France to combat heresy of Cathars and Waldensians
  • The 1578 handbook for inquisitors spelled out the purpose of inquisitorial penalties:”… for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit.”
  • 1821 Inquisition abolished in Portugal; 1834 Inquisition outlawed in Spain
  • 1908 Inquisition renamed to The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office
  • 1965 Inquisition renamed to The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)

Council of Trent (1545-1563)

  • response to Protestant movement
  • Catholicism after Trent is called Tridentine Catholicism
  • 7 sacraments, recognized Apocrypha as canon, Scripture and Tradition determine doctrine
  • bishop as pastor of diocese rather than prince of the church: have to live in their diocese, preach regularly, inspect clergy to insure proper teaching, meet regularly at synods
  • support of Baroque style of art, music, and architecture
  • 1559 Index of Prohibited Books
    • list had circulated since 1521 in Paris and Louvain
    • 1966 Index of Prohibited Books abolished
    • still to this day the word Imprimatur (let it be printed) is on approved Catholic books
    • 2011 imprimatur first applied to iPhone app

Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

  • Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)
    • 1521 severely wounded by a cannon ball
    • 1522 stayed in a cave for a while practicing severe asceticism
    • 1523 pilgrimage to the holy land
    • 1524 finished Spiritual Exercises (Ignatian Contemplation)
    • returned to Spain and preached on street corners
    • 1528 attended University of Paris and got master’s degree
    • 1534 started Jesuits with 6 companions, taking solemn vows
  • 1540 Society of Jesus approved by pope
  • Rules of the Order: vows of poverty, chastity, obedience to pope, go anywhere in the world
  • Rule 13 “That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity … if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black.”
  • Missionary Activity
    • Francis Xavier (1506-1552) preached in India and had success in Japan
    • Matteo Ricci (1522-1610) dressed as Confusion scholar, brought Christianity to China
    • Robert Nobili (1577-1656) brought Christianity to Brahman caste in India
    • Alexander de Rhodes (1591-1660) preached in Vietnam


  • 1493 Pope Alexander VI awarded colonial rights to Spain and Portugal
  • 1519-21 Spain conquers Aztecs; 1531-6 Spain conquers Incas
  • treated natives as barbarians and enslaved many
  • economic exploitation and conversion of people to Catholicism

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

  • Spanish mystic: had visions of Christ
  • founder of Discalced Carmelites

Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (1622)

  • Pope Gregory XV founded organization to supervise missionary work
  • put international Christians under papal authority
  • no longer under authority of kings
  • 1627 Pope Urban VIII established a missionary training school

Chinese Rites Controversy

  • controversy over veneration of Chinese ancestors
  • 1645 Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (SCPF) banned it
  • 1656 SCPF sided with Jesuits and lifted ban
  • 1659 SCPF instructed missionaries to distinguish culture from religion
  • 1704 Pope Clement XI condemned Chinese rites and outlawed further discussion
  • 1715 Pope Clement XI issues Papal bull officially condemning the rites

French Revolution (1789-1799)

  • from monarchical absolutism to constitutional monarchy to a radical republic to five person directory to an eventual dictatorship
  • people cried, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” = “liberty, equality, brotherhood”
  • changed relationship of the church to the state
  • king became figurehead, nobility lost lands, church lost monasteries
  • social revolution against feudal system

Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815)

  • wars between France and coalition (England, Austria, Prussia, Russia)
  • Pope Pius VI condemned the French Revolution
  • Napoleon Bonaparte’s general invaded Italy and imprisoned Pope Pius VI
  • 1800 Napoleon allowed Pius VI too be buried and tried to bring Catholic Church back to France
  • 1801 Napoleon compromised and restored traditional roles to Catholic Church but not its power
  • 1804 Pope Pius VII crowned Napoleon emperor at Notre Dame de Paris

Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854)

  • 1571 Battle of Lepanto against Ottoman Turks
  • 1617 Pope Paul V said Mary was conceived w/o original sin
  • 1622 Pope Gregory XV also said Mary was conceived w/o original sin
  • 1661 Alexander VII declared Mary’s soul was free from original sin
  • 1708 Pope Clement XI celebrated Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • 1854 Pope Pius IX proclaimed Immaculate Conception of Mary as dogma

First Vatican Council (1869-70)

  • convoked by Pope Pius IX
  • three centuries after Council of Trent
  • affirmed doctrine of papal infallibility
  • respond to rationalism, liberalism, and materialism
  • 1870 a group called the Old Catholic Church broke away

Unification of Italy (1870)

  • King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy seized most of the Papal States
  • Emmanuel II seized Rome and Pope Pius XI became the prisoner in the Vatican

Vatican City (1929)

  • declared sovereign nation by Benito Mussolini

Assumption of Mary (1950)

  • Pope Pius XII asserted as dogma that Mary having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory

Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

  • Paul VI proclaimed Mary the Mother of the Church
  • make teachings clear to a modern world
  • allowed use of vernacular languages during mass and sacraments
  • caused a breakaway of “traditional Catholics” who wanted to keep the liturgy in Latin

Encyclical Humane Vitae (1968)

  • Pope Paul VI condemned birth control, abortion, and euthanasia

Liberation Theology (1971)

  • coined by Gustavo Gutierrez in his book A Theology of Liberation
  • Leonard Boff of Brazil, John Sobrino of Spain, Oscar Romero of El Salvador, Juan Luis Segundo of Uruguay
  • fight poverty by addressing source, political activism, social justice
  • Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI denounced the movement

Ordination for Men Only (1994)

  • affirmed by Pope John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

2001 sex abuse cases

  • major lawsuits claimed priests sexually abused minors
  • some priests resigned, others were defrocked, others jailed
  • financial settlements with many victims
  • 4% of priests in the US from 1950-2002 had been accused of sexual misconduct

2013 Pope Benedict XVI resigned

  • first pope to relinquish office since Pope Gregory XII in 1415

Pope Francis elected (first Latin American, first Jesuit)

—— Links ——

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