Tremendous Social and Religious Changes Occurred as a Result of Luther’s Actions

It was a time of religious intolerance when a strict theocratic rule existed in most of Europe. An example of the extreme power of the Papacy at around this period was its ability to wage wars against other countries. This powerful papacy launched the Crusades which fought for a period of two centuries against the Muslims who conquered and occupied the Near East, especially Jerusalem. It also fought against other perceived enemies of the faith such as those pagans in the Slavic region, the Jews, the Mongols and other peoples it considered as heretics. In the real sense, the papacy was a power unto itself and exercised both religious and temporal powers. It concerned itself with matters of the state and even kings bowed to it. It was against this backdrop that the Reformation movement began that was started by a simple act of Martin Luther. He questioned some of the questionable practices of the clergy during his time. He saw how the clerical powers had been abused at the expense of ordinary people and how it strayed so far away from its original religious mandate of saving the souls. It is necessary to give a brief background in order to understand the context in which Martin Luther challenged the papal authority and the manifest abuses of the system (Jacobs 7). Discussion The Catholic Church at around this time can be characterized, to put it mildly, as very corrupt. Candidates for the papacy outmaneuvered each other, engaged in political intrigues, some popes and priests were married and had families (before celibacy was imposed) and the general atmosphere within the Catholic hierarchy was far removed from religious matters. The main protest of Martin Luther was centered on the granting of indulgences.