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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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The Papacy In History And Prophecy



After Luther had been proclaimed an outlaw by the Church, wars broke out between Catholic and Protestant nobles. Aware that reform was necessary pope Clement VII in 1534 called a conference which reviving the tone of the Catholic Church, rallied its scattered forces and turned upon its adversaries with a renewed and formidable energy. A strict zeal was now infused into the corrupt body of Catholicism. The Inquisition was enlarged and the Society of Jesus was formed, whilst even the clergy were supposed to have been "reformed."

Force was considered the only method of dealing with Protestantism and this was employed liberally. The Index was invented which almost ruined the book trade with its fierce censorship. The effect of this "counter-reformation" in the Roman Church resulted in the removal of the gross abuses which pervaded it and now the Catholics thinking their religion was now pure filled themselves with zeal for the defense of the worship, the policy and the doctrines of the Church.

Notwithstanding this fanaticism, the popes found it impossible to revive the authority in political concerns which had been exerted by the medieval pontiffs.




1526 Pope Clement VII made an alliance with France, Venice, and South Germany to check the emperor's power, The Emperor, Charles V. turned against the papacy, gave Lutheranism a legal existence, stormed Rome, took the pope prisoner and destroyed the French armies. Clement was restored a little later on, which emboldened him to proclaim an edict which forbade the progress of the Reformation in the states which had not accepted it while granting full liberty in the reformed states.

1541 Catholic princes and bishops of South Germany formed an alliance with the Emperor of Austria at Ratisbond in which Luther's teaching was be excluded and extirpated.

1547 Charles V, now supporting the Pope, defeated the Protestant nobles but his triumph was impaired by his quarrel with pope Paul III. Paul, afraid of Charles' growing power, negotiated with the French King and played one king against the other.

1555 At the Diet of Augsburg a religious peace was concluded between Catholics and Protestants. It embodied the famous maxim - the religion of the people is to be that of the prince. An uneasy peace existed.

For a time the Emperors had been impartial in their treatment of Catholics and Protestants, although in France the massacre of the Huguenots in 1572 was lamented deeply in Germany, (although in 1598 the Edict of Nantes gave Protestants religious freedom). After quarreling between Protestant and Catholic princes characterized the following decades the year 1608 saw a league of Protestant cities opposed to a similar league of Catholics. In 1619 the thirty years war broke out in which the Catholic confederacy aimed at the entire extinction of European Protestantism. It was a long and terrible tragedy. The unarmed were treated with brutal ferocity and in fertile districts great numbers perished by famine due to the destruction of the crops. More frightening perhaps were the immorality and the moral decay which characterized both sides. The war ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. It was agreed that in Germany, whatever might be the faith of the prince, the religion of each state was to be Catholic or Protestant according to its state in 1624. In imperial affairs equality was established between the two religions and at last the status quo had been reached.