marked many fresh beginnings. Science was making exciting discoveries. The
renaissance opened a whole new approach in art and culture. And renewal
affected the Christian Church.
The Protestant Reformation
began in 1517 with Martin Luther nailing his "95 Theses" against the Catholic
practice of selling indulgences, on the church door at Wittenberg. Later that
year, before a tribunal at Worms, he declared: “Unless I am convicted by
Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and
councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive
to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against
conscience is neither right nor safe. [Here I stand. I can do no other.] God
help me. Amen.”
The Reformation quickly
followed in other countries: Zwingli and Calvin in Switserland, John Knox in
Scotland, Menno Simons in Westphalia. In 1534 King Henry VIII declared himself
head of the Church in England.
The Catholic Church
responded by convening the Council of Trent (25 sessions, 1545 - 1563). It did
legislate important reforms,
notably in the area of
the formation of priests, but - regretfully - did not meet many of the just
demands of Protestant reformers.
Unfortunately the official
opposition to women's ministries was retained in both the Catholic and the