Did the Church change its doctrine during the Counter-Reformation?


Full Question

A radio talk-show host said: "The medieval Catholic Church was corrupt. The institutional Church was corrupt. Its doctrine was corrupt. It needed to change its doctrine; it needed a reformation. Thank God it got one." Did the Church change its doctrine?

Answer

The reformation the Church received came from the Council of Trent. It changed discipline but not doctrine. It formed seminaries, regularizing the education of the clergy. It unified the liturgy. It clarified doctrine but did not—and could not—change any of it. As a result, the Catholic Church remained consistent in what it had always taught. Such consistency remains to the present day.

The Protestant Reformation resulted in the continuous division of churches over the interpretation of Scripture, each new denomination insisting on its own as authentic. But of course, since they all contradict each other, they can’t all be correct. The divisions continue to this day—thousands of them. If this is reformation, I’d hate to see chaos!


Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.