Each year, the Holy Father gives an end of the year address to his Vatican Curia and, each year, it has turned out to be a stinging, strident remonition to the cardinals and Vatican officials. This year was no different, with the pope reminding those that serve the Church in administrative capacities at the Vatican that careerism and bitterness have no place in the life of the Church. In striving for reform of the Vatican Curia, the Pope quoted a 19th century Belgian papal statesman named Frédéric-François-Xavier De Mérode: “Implementing reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Egyptian Sphinx with a toothbrush.”
Despite the formulation you’ll hear before and after the October 31 quincentenary of Luther’s 95 theses, there was no single “Reformation” to which the Catholic “Counter-Reformation” was the similarly univocal response. Rather, as Yale historian Carlos Eire shows in his eminently readable and magisterial work, Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450 – 1650, there were multiple, contending reformations in play in the first centuries of modernity.