Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The need for a catechism for the Roman Catholic Church became critical when Martin Luther in 1517 nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg. As the years passed, the hierarchy of the Church became aware of the need to clarify many items of faith, particularly in light of the scores of tracts and pamphlets that the reformers were writing and distributing. In 1545 the Council of Trent was called and began eighteen years of meetings. The purpose of the council was to find common ground with the reformers and to clarify those issues that marked the differences between Catholics and Protestants. Some of the issues discussed at that council were the role of Mary, the place of devotions and good works in salvation, the number and function of the sacraments, the angels, the primacy of place of Latin in church worship, the reserving of Scriptural interpretation to the clergy, and the primacy of the pope.
As the council progressed, it became apparent that there would be few changes to accommodate the Protestant reformers and that the tradition of the Church would be maintained. At the suggestion of Charles Borromeo, who had been working toward reforming the clergy, the council under the leadership of Pope Pius IV decided to publish a book of instruction in the faith, first to educate the clergy and through them the laity. Under the direction of the cardinals, the first edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was...
(The entire section is 1314 words.)
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