This survey of the Catholic clergy in Europe, from 1650 to the eve of the French Revolution, will present a comparative outline of the various ecclesiastical groupings, divided into two main branches. The first of these, the secular clergy, consisted of the episcopal hierarchy and the lower clergy of parish priests, clerics belonging to the major orders, and the floating population of those who were in minor orders or merely tonsured. The regular clergy consisted of the male and female members of the monastic orders, the mendicant orders, and the regular congregations. If any conclusion may be drawn from these pages, it is that the different models and forms of Catholicism which developed in Europe between the Counter-Reformation and the Enlightenment, were all affected by the general trend towards uniformity and universalism directed by the Roman Church. But these new models were also influenced by both the ancient religious and political traditions which had permeated religious institutions and religious life for centuries, and by the specific political and social conditions which existed in different parts of Europe.
Was this article helpful?