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Q: Which Dutch monk criticized Catholic Church officials for focusing on money and power instead of the spiritual needs of individuals?
A: By the beginning of the 16th century, the medieval Church and all that it represented, entered a period of profound crisis. By this time, the Church was nearly fifteen centuries old. [ Throughout its history the Church always had to confront problems both within its organization and from without. But by 1500, these problems rose to the surface and the Church would shake at its very
foundation. Political philosophers like Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) had already rejected the medieval idea that popes were superior to kings (see Lecture 1). As a citizen of Renaissance Florence, Machiavelli was a Christian, yet he distrusted and disliked the clergy. He saw no need to reform the Church and Christianity because his secular theory of the state was based on the notion that religion and faith was nothing more than the cement which held society together. He would certainly have agreed with Karl Marx who, more than three centuries later, would argue that: Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. [Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, 1844] A second problem of the period concerned the merchants, bankers and artisans of Europe's largest cities and towns who resented the fact that local bishops of the Church controlled all of their commercial and economic activities. Although capitalism as a form of economic organization had not yet infiltrated Europe, these producers and money-makers knew that more money and power was theirs if only their lives were less regulated by the Church. Again, I think what we are witnessing here is the development of a secular concept of work and acquisition. Yet another problem facing the Church was that in the 16th century there were numerous reformers who were openly criticizing the Church for its numerous offenses. ]
lgillis|Points 10|
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Asked 9/16/2013 8:22:07 AM
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