This Counter-Reformation is usually understood to have begun during the papal reign of Pope Paul III, who held the office of the Papal See from 1534-1549. This Counter-Reformation continued on for years, and in truth is still continuing at the present time in various guises. Romanism, to this day, is still working to counter the effects of the Protestant Reformation.
Over the centuries, since 1517, Rome has employed many different tactics and strategies. Sometimes she has been like a ravenous wild beast devouring all before her. At other times she has been as subtle as the devil himself in administering the wine of her fornication to deceive gullible Protestants. All with the aim of destroying and reversing the Protestant Reformation.
The tactics and strategies which Rome has employed over the centuries are:
1. Institution - The Order of the Jesuits was instituted in 1540 to counter the teachings and influence of Protestantism. The Jesuits were the Gestapo of Rome. They formed the secret army of the Papacy. Their purpose was quite simple. The Jesuits sought to convert the world to Roman Catholicism. And in order to achieve this goal, they did not hesitated to use every means, both fair and foul. They have not hesitated to lie, cheat, commit murder, or use revolution, if need be, to further their aims. At the very top of their priorities has always been the destruction of Protestantism.
3. Intransigence - Pope Paul III initiated The Council of Trent as an act of intransigence and defiance to the teaching of the Reformers. The Council of Trent has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation. It met over the years 1545 - 1563.
It actually sat in session during the years 1545-1547, 1551-1552, 1562-1563. Its purpose was to reaffirm Catholic teaching. The Council of Trent issued condemnations of what it declared to be ‘heresies’ committed by Protestantism. In addition to railing against these perceived heresies, key statements and clarifications were issued re-stating the Church's position on various doctrines including that of Scriptural authority, the Canon of Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, Salvation, The Sacraments, The Mass and the Veneration of Saints.
4. Invention - In seeking to combat the spread of Reformation teaching the Papacy created the ‘Index of Prohibited Books’. This was a list of books which Romanism would not allow to be circulated or the faithful to read, wherever she has any influence. Included on this list of forbidden books was the Bible in the common language of the people.
The aim of the list of forbidden books was to protect the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of theologically, culturally, and politically disruptive books.
The Index of Prohibited Books existed for over four hundred years. It was only cancelled by Pope Paul VI on 14th June 1966.
5. Insurgence - To counter the Protestant Reformation Rome turned to the use of political and military force. Where natives in new lands in South America, or people in European nations, needed convincing to become Catholic or to return to Catholicism, Catholic rulers such as Phillip II of Spain and later the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II used political and even military coercion, either to enforce Catholicism on all in a given area or to force those who wanted to remain Protestant to leave altogether. There were the religious wars in Europe, including what was known as The Thirty Years War. There were numerous Catholic conspiracies against Protestant nations including England and particularly against Queen Elizabeth I, 1558–1580.
6. Indoctrination. The Catholic Church, which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent, in response to the Protestant Reformation, that the 'Arts' should communicate religious themes with direct and emotional involvement. The Baroque period saw an artistic style developed that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, theatre, and music.
Rome used ‘Baroque Art’ to portray the power and spirituality of the Catholic Church as a force for good, and reinforced Catholic doctrine in the mind of adherents. These works of art could be viewed by all in churches, cathedrals, and other public places. The style began around 1600 in Rome and Italy, and soon spread to most of Europe.
7. Insinuation - Much of the success of the Reformation was attributable to the spread of the Scriptures in the common tongue among the people. Rome set about attacking the authority of the Scriptures by attacking the Canon of Scripture. Instead of burning Bibles, Rome changed tactics and set about polluting the Bible with a raft of modern versions. From the commencement of German Higher Criticism to the glut of modern perversions of the Scriptures Rome has sought to cast doubt upon the inspiration, inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of Holy Scripture.
8. Infiltration - Instead of the poison of the stake and sword, Rome resorted to the honey of Ecumenism during the 20th century. The Ecumenical Movement was born, which would lead to Protestant/Reformed Churches forsaking, and even repudiating, Reformation truth and seeking union with Rome, thereby undoing the work of the Reformation.
In all these ways Rome has been at work with her Counter-Reformation. She has changed course and tactics when it has suited her purpose and with the prevailing views of what is acceptable at any given time over these past 500 years.
Separate Posts will be uploaded to the Blog dealing individually with Rome’s Counter-Reformation tactics.