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History Dictionary


Counter Reformation

The Counter-Reformation was a movement of the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century that arises in response to criticism from the humanists and various members of the Church and from important religious orders, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustines, who called for morality and a return to primitive purity and austerity. In addition, the Counter Reformation also emerges in response to the advance of the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther. This movement thus assumes a strand of Catholic Reform (which seeks to redefine the Church's Doctrine and the discipline of clergy) and a Counter-Reform strand that seeks to combat and prevent the advance of Protestantism. The principal means used by the Catholic Church to effect its Reformation were the creation of new religious orders (notably the Society of Jesus) and the holding of the Council of Trent. The most repressive counter-reform actions were achieved through the Inquisition and censorship (Index).

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