What did the Counter-Reformation achieve?
The Counter-Reformation essentially saw a reformation of Church practices and institutions accompanied by a reaffirmation of Church doctrine. Most of the reforms associated with the Counter-Reformation stemmed from the Council of Trent, which met in several lengthy sessions from 1545 to 1563. The Council made a number of critical reforms, especially to the priesthood, which had become, in the eyes of many Europeans, very corrupt and, at the local level, incompetent. It made provisions for education for priests and ordered that they pursue more moral lives so as to be examples to their parishoners. On the other hand, the Council reasserted and clarified key aspects of doctrine. They rejected Luther's doctrine of justification by faith alone, clearly described the seven sacraments, reiterated the doctrine of transubstantiation, and reaffirmed the belief in purgatory. The Counter-Reformation also created a new, aggressively evangelistic spirit within the church, one which was obviously intended to counter the efforts of Protestants. The creation of new evangelical orders such as the Jesuits was perhaps the most conspicuous element of this policy. Jesuits were sent into communities to combat heresy in Europe, and ultimately represented the leading edge of evangelical efforts in the New World. Finally, its doctrines reaffirmed, the Church strengthened the Inquisition to root out and destroy heresy, creating the Index of Prohibited Books to destroy intellectual opposition to its doctrines.