What gave power to the protestant revolt? Greed. December 8, 2015Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, disaster, Ecumenism, General Catholic, history, horror, It's all about the $$$, persecution, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society, the struggle for the Church.
Thus claims Hillaire Belloc in his The Crisis of Civilization. I don’t think it can be universally said that the protestant revolution was always and everywhere about the accumulation of wealth, but greed was the driving force in the conversion of societal elites in England and much of northern Germany to the revolutionary cause. Given the authoritarian nature of those societies, once the political/economic elites were won over, the course set for those regions was essentially irrevocable, as the long, tortuous history of the English martyrs shows.
Some important considerations below. The denial of papal authority led directly to the seizure of the quite substantial monastic assets and their being used to buy off support from the aristocracy and governing class:
As a mere negative heretical movement wherein a mass of divergent and even contradictory opinions has free play, the protestant revolt might have been less destructive. But there was a driving power behind it which was of very great effect; the opportunity for loot. Here were these great monastic establishments, the numbers of which had decreased, but the revenues of which had been maintained. The Papacy was the central authority. Deny the authority of the Papacy and it lay defenseless before attack and spoliation. Such attack followed almost immediately upon the first years of the great revolt. Certain of the Swiss cantons and the more or less independent small secular princes especially in the north of Germany……….these and even local squires and petty lordlings fell upon the endowments of religious houses and of parishes, of Sees and all forms of clerical income, swelling their own fortunes out of the proceeds. [And becoming most convicted partisans of the revolution against the Church in the process] It may be imagined what a temptation lay before all those not restrained by a governmental power above them to indulge this orgy of loot……
……The monasteries and their wealth could not touched as long as the Papacy was recognized, for they depended upon the Papacy and not upon the civil power. The same was true of the endowments which had been made for the support of secular religion, that is, the revenues of the parish churches, of the bishoprics, of the cathedral chapters. The same was true of the collegiate revenues, of institutions devoted to education, from the small local schools, every one of which was endowed in such fashion, to the great colleges of the universities. That wealth could not be touched as long as the Papacy was acknowledged. Whenever the authority of the Papacy was denied it lay open to general loot.
…..Only where the political revolution had been thorough and the government of a district had become supreme, and independent of all external authority, was it possible for that government to seize goods hitherto under the protection of the Church. And wherever such complete independence prevailed, the clerical goods were seized in whole or in part. The monasteries and nunneries were dissolved. Their wealth was taken wholly away for the benefit of those in power……..
……..In England, by what was n o more than a personal accident the monasteries were seized altogether by the Crown. Within four years of the breach with Rome (that is, the denial of Papal authority), every monastery and nunnery in England had gone. And all those great revenues…….passed from the hands of the corporate owners, monastic and collegiate, first to the government and very soon to those who were granted the rents on very favorable terms (about half price), from the government in its pressing desire to raise revenue. [And by so doing, removed the primary social safety net for the rural poor, who were massive in number. The monastery lands had been rented at exceedingly generous rates to the many former serfs who had gained their freedom but possessed no land of their own. They also operated numerous charities and hospitals. As even the protestant firebrand William Cobbett shows (and conclusively), the net effect of this huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich was to leave millions in utter squalor with virtually no means of income. How to deal with pauperism thus became a leading political issue in England (and other locales) from the 16th through the 19th century]
………The society of Christendom and especially of Western Christendom up to the revolution which we call the Reformation, had been a society of owners, a proprietrial society. It was one in which there remained strong bonds between one class and another, and in which there was a hierarchy of superior and inferior, but not, in the main, a distinction between a restricted body of possessors and a main body of destitute at the mercy of the possessors, such as our society has become. It has so become through the action of the Reformation, which was at the root of the whole change………
The Reformation has been called in a biting epigram “a rising of the rich against the poor.” Like all epigrams that brief statement is exaggerated, but it contains much more truth than most of its kind.
The protestant revolution is a wound from which Christendom has not even begun to recover. The entire world continues on the arc prescribed by Calvin and the other revolutionaries. The spiritual life is at a nadir not seen since prior to the Incarnation. All seems headed to some kind of calamity. Even the Church has been infected with this false and endlessly destructive spirit.