Saint Charles Borromeo was a true reformer of the Church. Growing up during the time of the Protestant Revolution in the 16th century, he was present at the Council of Trent and tirelessly labored to promote moral formation and religious education in his diocese.
By Deacon Frederick Bartels
4 November 2019
Born in 1538 into a wealthy family, Saint Charles Borromeo grew up during the time of the Protestant Revolution in the 16th century and became the Bishop of Milan. He was present at the Council of Trent, which was in many ways a reaction against Protestant heresies that endangered the faith.
Protestants today, of course, are not revolutionaries; however, the first protestors or Protestants who jettisoned the papacy, much Church teaching, and formed their own independent and contrasting Christian communities in the 16th century were revolutionaries in the sense that they were not so much interested in reforming the one true Church of Jesus Christ as they desired to found their own, separate churches.
The term “Protestant Reformation” is an English Protestant term. It’s not a Catholic one. And it’s not historically accurate. It’s not in sync with a correct historical consciousness. A true reform of the Church would mean clearing away errors or corruptions from within, purifying, promoting a restoration of what should be, not abandoning the institution Christ founded on St. Peter (see Mt 16:17-19) and claiming that the Bible was all one needed to worship Christ. In other words, if a plate is dirty, you wash it. You don’t smash it, as someone once said whose name I cannot recall.
There’s never a good reason to leave the one true Church—not even the corruption, scandal, sexual abuse, and apparent worship (or at least tacit approval) of Pachamama as we’ve witnessed at the Vatican. The Church, although marred by the sins of men, most recently by men in her upper echelons, remains Christ’s Bride. That will never change. No amount of lies or disgusting, cowardly, heinous activities can change that, for our Lord himself promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church.
As terrible as our present situation is, and as much as we all want—and try—to do whatever we can to purge evil from the ranks of Churchmen and bring healing, the Church will remain as willed by God the Father and instituted by Christ. It will remain true that within her fold, we receive the grace of the sacraments. It is at the holy sacrifice of the Mass that our redemption is carried out and we consume Christ himself, that we may be made like him.
I’ll stick with the Church. Always.
Watch the video above to learn more about Saint Charles Borromeo.
Deacon Frederick Bartels is a member of the Catholic clergy who serves the Church in the diocese of Pueblo. He holds an MA in Theology and Educational Ministry and is a Catholic educator, public speaker, and evangelist who strives to infuse culture with the saving principles of the gospel.