Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Essay on Catholic Church in the Renaissance

Essay on Catholic Church in the Renaissance

The cultural and intellectual movements of the 15th century Renaissance facilitated the continual development of Western Christian culture, but concurrently the degradation and loss of influence of its Catholic churches and most prestigious authorities. The Christian Church was entrenched in and slow to escape from an existence deeply rooted in the ordered and rigid Middle Ages. It had long been reliant on the feudal system and was forced to adjust to a monetary society, but knew little about the demands of wealthy businessmen and the bourgeoisie. These men remained wholly Christian, but their manifestations of faith shifted from serving the church to demonstrating personal virtue and using their talents for earthly good. Meanwhile, culture of the Renaissance was fascinated by the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome and there was a passionate development of the arts emulating this period. Unlike the Middle Ages however, the subject matter of paintings were no longer strictly depictions of religious figures, the works of Roman writers like Virgil and Ovid were not religiously interpreted, and architects built more than solely churches. The invention of the printing press during the Renaissance also meant that books became accessible and literacy increased rapidly.

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This was alarming to the Catholic Chuch, however, because it meant that common citizens of many languages could own a bible, and subsequently personally discern the word of God. The church could no longer monopolized knowledge. Infamy and obstacles were also internal as well—it was also widely known that popes of the 15th century were no more righteous or less worldly than the common man, whom they demanded piety from. In fact, they were often disgraced by scandals and schemes to gain wealth. Therefore, although men and women of the Renaissance retained devout Christian values, they no longer felt responsibility towards an immoral and slowly adapting church, which they demanded reforms from. They recognized that their relationship with a god was personal, with loyalties demonstrated through obeying the bible and personal prayer. These sentiments undoubtedly initiated the full-fledged revolt immediately following the Renaissance known as the Protestant Reformation.

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