• Robert Bireley
Part of the European History in Perspective book series (EUROHIP)


Few historical movements have taken education as seriously as the Catholic Reform or the Protestant Reformation. Both Catholics and Protestants saw the school as a principal instrument of inculcating the Christian message, and both realized the need to win over youth. Schooling was to become an essential part of the process of confessionalism; education was the most prominent instrument of the Catholic Reform. Preaching alone was inadequate to overcome popular religious ignorance and to instill the religious knowledge that the leaders thought necessary. We have already seen that members of the new religious orders served as schoolmasters or schoolmistresses. Perhaps adults and the elderly were set in their ways, but young people remained malleable and open to formation. Moreover, the church needed educated clerics and ministers; Catholic leaders saw the principal cause of the Reformation as the lack of formed and educated clergy. At the same time, government required a growing supply of officials and magistrates at every level. Parents realized that education was the way for their children to advance. So the demand for education was great.


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Copyright information

© Robert Bireley, SJ 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Bireley
    • 1
  1. 1.Loyola University ChicagoUSA

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