I confess my knowledge of church history branches at about the Reformation. I know a quite a bit about Catholicism today, and I have an idea of what it was before the Reformation. These are not at all the same thing.

What changes inside the Roman Catholic church, either in practice or doctrine, are directly attributed to the events of the Reformation? How soon after the reformation was this change visible/acknowledged?

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    After non-Latin translations of the Bible starting pervading throughout Europe, the Catholic Church "compromised" into creating Church-approved English and other language translations, such as the Rheims New Testament. Eventually they stopped burning the Protestants at the stake. – khaverim May 4 '13 at 22:05

I found this Wikipedia article on the Counter-Reformation. Which is apparently a useful phrase to Google for, if you want more information.

Summary of the link: The biggest responses of the Catholic church to the Reformation were:

  1. The Council of Trent, which was "a commission of cardinals tasked with institutional reform, addressing contentious issues such as corrupt bishops and priests, indulgences, and other financial abuses".
  2. The institution of new Orders of the religious; notably, this includes the Jesuits.

I don't think the reformation really had any effect on Church doctrine, except for defining private interpretation more concretely as the heresy that it is. It had relatively no effect on parish life until relatively recently (with the exception of those tossed out of church steeples during the 30 years war and in honor of it).

As a Catholic I can point to a few 'fruits of the reformation' that actually improved the spiritual lives of Catholics. We read the bible more, and appreciate Protestant scholarship.

But in America, much of our worship is indirectly influenced by Protestant traditions culminating with our loose interpretations of the outcomes of the Second Vatican council (1960's).

Protestantism gave a home to lapsed Catholics who didn't want to abandon Our Lord.

A good read

  • Interesting. So you're saying doctrine didn't change with the Council of Trent, only implementation? – Caleb Sep 8 '11 at 18:56
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    Also FYI, many Protestants don't believe in "private interpretation" either, in fact many are adamantly against it :) – Caleb Sep 8 '11 at 18:57
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    @Caleb, we don't believe that doctrine ever changes or can change. It just gets more and more defined as time goes on. It's actually improved by heresy. Belloc mentions in that link that he thought all heresies die out in about 500 years. And what you're saying about private interpretation actually lends creedence to that. I'd go as far as to say that protestantism is nearly dead and what we're left with is two camps one of pseudo-catholics and another of moral-relativists (the modern heresy). I think we've all got a lot more beliefs in common today than we had 400 years ago. – Peter Turner Sep 8 '11 at 19:23
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    @Peter Turner: the general behavior of the Catholic Church today is more similar to Protestantism than it is to the Catholic Church before the reformation, considering all the selling salvation for money gambits a lot of priests professed, which was either supported or at least tolerated by their superiors. You can't say that protestantism is nearly dead, as there are significant parts of the world where the majority of Christians are Protestant and not Catholic. – vsz Aug 5 '12 at 20:29

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