The Counter Reformation

In response to the Reformation, the Catholic Church convened the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the nineteenth ecumenical council. While the council asserted many traditional Catholic doctrines, it also undertook to reform the church through renewed missionary activity and a new spirit of collaboration between the clergy and the laity. The church could boast its venerable antiquity, its centralized organization, and a polished and expressive ceremonial ritual. These were still attractions. The council reaffirmed the traditional doctrines such as the veneration of relics and saints, the concept of faith and good works together as a means to Christian salvation, clerical celibacy, purgatory, transubstantiation, and the seven sacraments; the council also regularized the Mass, now called the Tridentine Mass, from Tridentum, the Latin name for the city Trent. Perhaps most importantly, the council insisted that the church's interpretation of the Bible (rather than any individual's interpretation) as well as church dogma and tradition were accepted equally. Protestantism was uncompromisingly rejected. Through the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline and widespread reforms in pastoral care affirmed by the council, the church was able to regain many reformers and extend its influence into Asia and the Americas.

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