Since the foundations of the Christian faith, the Catholic denomination has consistently been the most powerful and largest church community. The Pope held supreme religious power over the world and eventually held position as an important governmental figure. Throughout the times of the Middle Ages and Renaissance the Roman Catholic Church was the central basis and concern for all people. They forced people to obey their laws and pay sums of money under the threat of possible excommunication if disobedience occurred. The civilians during these time periods were helpless against the church’s power; they could not read or even understand the services or teachings of the Bible, so they were forced to trust the Roman Catholic Church for all knowledge that was shared.
However, despite the church’s great religious authority, disputes and lax practices had grown up within the church, but it was not until the invention of the printing press when the followers of the Roman Catholic Church began to recognize such discrepancies. The issues of the sales of indulgences and the elevating power of the Roman Catholic Church lead corruption further into the religious establishment, but due to the invention of the printing press and to the rise of individualism the Protestant Reformation continued to thrive.
Before the introduction of indulgences, the Catholic Church practiced the orthodox routine of confessions. The sales of indulgences were created for the sinner to pay their debt out of purgatory, but not to replace the practicing of confessions. The public began rapidly using the sales of indulgences to pardon their sins, rather than attending confessions, but little did they know the profits were going to towards the construction of St. Peter’s Bastille. The sale of indulgences gradually began to be questioned. Were the sales of indulgences in compliance with the scriptures in the Bible? Martin Luther proved and additionally acknowledged that the sales of indulgences were not in scriptural compliance through the postings of his ninety-five theses, and thus revealing a large falsification within the exalted Roman Catholic Church.
Beyond the sales of indulgences, no one could argue that the church was not corrupt. Holding vast wealth, exercising enormous political power and waging war, it was administered by holders of patronage positions that had more interest in lining their pockets that in promoting the welfare of their religious community. The Catholic Church issued a strict set of rules for its followers to obey, but ironically, the church officials were seemingly unable to obey the rubles as well. The celibacy of priests began to be questioned. In Europe, bishops and the clergy often lived like aristocrats, and seemed part of the ruling elite.
Corruption was widespread, for example: bishops were not undertaking religious duties, or even not living in their own administrative division. In France, the King rather than the Pope chose people for church positions. These practices for selection of church officials began to resemble the electing of a political figure rather than a church position. The image of the church was beginning to evolve with their power as it began to grow into a governmental house instead of a religious foundation.
Unfortunately for the public, the perverse aspects within the church system were not discovered soon enough. It was not until the invention of the printing press that the public could for the first time read their own scriptures of the Bible. Furthermore, the new availability began allowing the readers to form their own religious beliefs and thereafter creating a new sense of individualism. Through the mass production of the Bible from the printing press the church was for the first time opposed by competition through the opinions of the people. They began to realize on their own the false and corrupted practices within the Roman Catholic Church.
Thus, a vast majority of the worshipers in the Roman Catholic Church began to convert the teachings of Martin Luther. The public could now see the arguments that Luther made were creditable with scripture to induce them as well. Martin Luther appealed to the masses because he imposed a simple church. He said that the average person could have a relationship with God without going through the religious officials. Luther’s teachings were more applicable to the lifestyles of the common man and in a result the Protestant Reformation was launched. The Catholic Church could not suppress his actions because of the fact that the majority of the public was on his side.
Finally, when Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses he was not searching for a way to create a new protestant belief of religion or to begin a famous movement in history, he was simply surfacing his concerns with the Roman Catholic system. To Luther, indulgences were not right because there were no scriptures to back up the ideas. Eventually the public came to agree with him. The Roman Catholic Church most certainly supplied the ingredients to engender the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther simply acted on them and with the help of publication it was a success. But was the move of many from the Catholic to Protestant a long lasting success? No, over a long period of time many people that converted to Protestantism converted back to Catholicism, but despite this, the actions and reforms accomplished during the Protestant Reformation changed and affected many lives then and to come.