Ozment, Steven E. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550 : An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe. New Haven, Conn. ; London: Yale University Press, 1980. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 13, “Catholic Reform and Counter Reformation” pp. 397-418.
Ozment observes here that the counter reformation was not solely a reaction to the Reformation. Much of it may have happened regardless. “While Protestant success can be said to have had a ‘catalytic effect’ on Catholic reform, and making it more urgent and earnest than it might otherwise have been, the Counter Reformation was far more complex than simply a response to the Protestant challenge” (Ozment 1980, 397). There were already significant efforts to reform the Church. Despite the reforms from the Council of Constance widespread reform had not happened. “The reason for this failure lay largely in continuing papal opposition to the conciliar movement; the pope, understandably obsessed with regaining his sovereignty within the church, cooperated only grudgingly with church councils and always with an eye to eventually rendering them ineffectual” (Ozment 1980,398). Ozment clearly sees financial motives in the resistance to reform. The centralization which could ease change could also resist change. At issue was whether the Church was looking back to Peter, forward to some particular future vision, or both at once (Ozment 1980, 400). The Fifth Lateran Council, called by Pope Julius in Rome (1512) blamed problems in the church on the “pope’s preoccupation with secular politics” (Ozment 1980, 400). Ozment provides notes on a variety of the proposed reforms, many of which encourage similar outcomes to those desired by Luther. Yet Luther’s emphasis was based on church laws hindering true spirituality, while the Catholic reformers looked to the original and good intents of the church laws (Ozment 1980, 402). After 1517 Catholics who spoke in favor of reforms could be accused of siding with the Lutherans. Ozment details many authors and local reformers who either influenced or supported the Lutheran reformers (Ozment 1980, 403ff). This could have created huge and irreconcilable divisions as the papal leadership was opposed to the reform movements. By 1541 and the council at Regensburg the divisions between Protestant and Catholic were clear. The view of salvation purely by grace versus jointly with man’s merit was clearly diverging (Ozment 1980, 406). To try solidifying the Roman position and fight against future divisions the Council of Trent articulated views rejecting the Reformation (Ozment 1980, 407). At the same time Trent pushed for bishops and other leaders to be personally involved in the spiritual life of their communities (Ozment 1980, 409). This consolidation of doctrine and the move to draw leaders into their parishes moved the Roman church toward the Counter-Reformation. Among their efforts was the Society of Jesus, which sought to encourage “a highly personal and activist spirituality” (Ozment 1980, 409). Ignatius of Loyola, who became an ardent follower of Jesus after reading lives of the saints, spearheaded spiritual disciplines which would bring comfort to troubled souls (Ozment 1980, 412). Based on the Jesuit view that believers would be able to obey perfectly and that this obedience would include acceptance of authorities, the counter-reformational wars spread through Europe from 1560-1648. It was not a doctrinally innovative conflict. The conservatism was a very powerful tool i its work to regain the territories formerly lost to the Protestants (Ozment 1980, 418).