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How successful was the Council of Trent in the years 1545-1563 in tackling the problems confronting the Catholic Church?

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Introduction

How successful was the Council of Trent in the years 1545-1563 in tackling the problems confronting the Catholic Church? The council met over a period of eighteen years, in this time there were three distinct periods in which there were a total of 25 sessions. There were several problems with the Catholic Church which needed to be sorted out, this including doctrine and discipline. The council met to sort out this problem which had persisted over a number of years. There were several popes in these three periods. The council took so long to confront the problems within the church for two reasons. One of which is that in the first period, Paul III was Pope and he wanted to move the council to Bologna, as there was an outbreak of Cholera in Trent which supposedly put the people at risk. This from Paul's point of view would increase his power and influence on what was going on. However Charles realised what Paul was doing and told his subjects to stay in Trent, this therefore effectively bought the council to a halt. Secondly in 1555 Carafa was Pope and he was hostile to the idea of a General Council, he thought that the Pope had enough authority to reform the church himself. ...read more.

Middle

The Protestants only had two sacraments, they were baptism and Eucharist. However there was a distinct difference between the Eucharist of the Catholic Church and the Eucharist of the Protestant Church. The Protestants believed that the bread and wine was only a symbol for the body and blood of Jesus, the Catholics believed that it was actually the body and blood. It was decided at Trent that there were to be all seven sacraments, and they were officially given the name "The Seven Sacraments". The Protestants were unhappy as the Bible only mentioned the two they believed in. Charles V was very despondent that the Catholics had got their own way on all of these three major points. One of the main points that needed to be clarified at the Council of Trent was the defining of doctrine. This is what Paul believed should be the first thing to be done, then everything else could be sorted out from this. Therefore in Paul's reign as Pope he took major steps towards the defining of the churches teachings. This occurred in the first period of December 1545 to September1549, in which there were eight sessions. There was also some defining of the doctrine in the second period when Julius III was Pope. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is because by this time the council had already adopted definitions of the faith. The spread of Catholicism was a major threat for the Popes of the time, and so it was important that they did slow down the spread of Protestantism as otherwise it would threaten the catholic religion. Overall the council made lasting and significant provisions for the education of the clergy. The conservative nature of the Catholic Church had been confirmed. The Catholic Church was now a much centralised institution and the Pope was firmly the head of the church. No general council was called for a further 300 years after Trent, this showed that this council must have incurred a certain degree of success. The papacy was confirmed to be essentially Italian, and the Pope for the next 400 years was Italian. Trent was the catalyst to reform after 1563, there was important business such as the production of a catholic reform after the closure of Trent was different from that before 1545. After 1563 reform was more positive and forward thinking. The decrees of Trent often took a long time to actually take effect and there were vast regional differences in the effectiveness of the legislation. The Catholic Church had started to become a static institution that was not going to move with the times. Lauren Pl�ss ...read more.

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