How would the Catholic Church be affected by the industrialization of Europe.

How would this affect the Church's theology?

The start of industrialization starts in the late 1300s also in Western Europe.

Also, probably will make more questions relating to this.

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    $\begingroup$ Good question -- can you pick some aspect of the question to focus on? "The Catholic Church" is a pretty wide open topic! Are you interested in how theology might be affected? Or how construction methods or engineering might be affected? Are you interested in how the Church spurred a much earlier industrial revolution via scientific culture? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Nov 30 '21 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ Given how many different religious sects have branched off the Catholic Church over the most minor of doctrinal disagreements how do you expect us to be able to provide answers that are anything other than wild mass guessing? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 30 '21 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ (1) The Church built only a very few cathedrals; in fact, the only Church-built cathedral I can think of right off the top of my head is the famous St. Peter's in Rome. The vast majority of cathedrals were built by cities and states, not by the Church. (2) An industrialized world is in no way, shape or form similar to the world of the late Middle Ages. An industrialized world requires a very much more active economy, a large literate (and free) work force, universal education, transport networks, and so on. The impact on cathedral construction is the least interesting change. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 30 '21 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ You can't edit a question in a way that invalidates existing answers. If you are not sure on your question, use the sandbox to refine it $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Nov 30 '21 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ The people of the era would have regarded the distinction between the Church and the city or state as meaningless. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Dec 2 '21 at 23:48

Any massive change in the historical conditions will affect all aspects of culture and society.

Make no mistake: an Industrial Revolution in the 16th century is a massive historical change. An industrial revolution requires a large, educated, literate, and free workforce; it requires an active economy; it requires universal education; it requires an efficient transportation network; it requires an effective banking system, extending credit to those entrepreneurs who build all those machines and factories; in a word, it requires a world vastly different from the world of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

And in a vastly different world you will have a different Church.

In particular, the evolution of the doctrines and discipline of the Catholic Church will of course be changed if 15th century Europe goes on the path of Industrial Revolution. How specifically will the evolution of the doctrines and discipline of the Catholic Church be affected we don't know, of course, and exploring this change could be a very interesting aspect of the story to be invented by the author.

In real history, there actually was a massive change in the 15th century which left its mark on the evolution of the doctrines and discipline of the Catholic Church, namely, the Reformation.

The Reformation movement triggered a "period of Catholic resurgence" (the words are from Wikipedia) generally known as the Counter-Reformation. A high point of this fervent spiritual activity was the Council of Trent (1545-1563); among others, the Council of Trent:

  • Established that the deuterocanonical books "were on a par with the other books of the canon" (again words from Wikipedia);

  • Affirmed that human action (specifically, committing a mortal sin) can indeed forfeit the grace of God;

  • Reaffirmed that the ordination of priests is a Holy Sacrament and it confers an indelible character on the soul.

One of the notable effects of the Council of Trent was the compilation of an authoritative version of the Bible, commonly known as the Vulgate.

Sacrosancta Oecumenica, & generalis Tridentina Synodus, in Spiritu Sancto legitime congregata, [...] proponens, ut, sublatis erroribus, puritas ipsa Evangelii in Ecclesia conservetur.

(Fun factoid: the first authoritative version of the Catholic Bible was published in 1590, almost 60 years after the publication of Luther's German Bible, which was printed in 1534.)

And the dogmas and discipline of the Catholic Church continued to evolve after the 16th century, responding to changes in the world at large. In 1854, the Catholic Church proceeded to officialize the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Mother of God; in 1870, the First Vatican Council proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility; the policy of encouraging the emergence of the Eastern Catholic Churches (from the 17th century onwards) required some flexibility in the intepretation of the dogmas and discipline of the Latin Church (which, in America and western Europe, remains the best known of the 24 autonomous churches which make up the Catholic Church).

(Fun factoid: while the Latin Church enforces strict clerical celibacy, most of the Eastern Catholic Churches allow the ordination of married men. The point being that there are very many Catholic priests who are happily married; they do not belong to the Latin Church, but that doesn't make them any less Catholic.)

All in all, exploring how the doctrines and discipline of the Catholic Church would respond to 16th century Industrial Revolution would be a very interesting element of the story. I would be quite interested to read a learned essay on the topic.

  • $\begingroup$ Fun fact: "dogmas" are the single most misunderstood aspect of the faith of the Church. Essentially, a dogma is a belief that has always been held, whether in the East or in the West, from the formal beginning of the Church. The Trinity. Always been believed. Godhood of Jesus. Always been believed. Yet they were not formalised for several centuries. Same goes with the others. There are certainly differences of language & emphasis between East & West, but even the two dogmas you mention are held as common matters of faith from the early Church. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Dec 1 '21 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas: That is not what a dogma is either in the Western or in the Eastern churches. It may be a language difference, and my English vocabulary is not all that well developed in matters pertaining to metaphysics, but as far as I know a dogma is simply an article of faith to which the adherence is declared mandatory by an Oecumenic Council or (in the west) by a papal decree. (And we Orthodox most certainly do not adhere to the western dogma of the immaculate conception of the Mother of God; we feel that it diminshes the miracle of God being born out of woman, and women in general.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 1 '21 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas: ... But yes, I agree that with suitable lawyering it wouldn't be an insurmontable obstacle. We do call her "sinless virgin", after all. The "small" difference between a sinless virgin in the East and the sinless virgin in the west can relatively easily be fudged. -- Out of curiosity, I just checked. The Fount of All Knowledge actually has the official definition of a dogma. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 1 '21 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ It's not your English at all! By "language difference" I mean the obvious difference in "theological parlance" that has always existed between the Greek east and the Latin west. Essentially and simplistically a dogma is nothing more than what I just said, and also what you just said: "a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding." The point being, they don't just make up a new dogma. It has to already be believed in by the Church, has to already be revealed. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Dec 2 '21 at 13:05

A perfect match

The Catholic church has never opposed capitalism. On the contrary. Cistercian monks were the very pioneers of capitalism themselves, in medieval times. In the 19th century (and to a lesser extent the 17th-19th century-) Industrial revolution, there was little active involvement of the church, but religion did serve the new powers that be, by providing comfort and reinforcing a sense of obedience, toward the capitalist, or slave owner. As Wiki states it, "Christian slaves were to honor their masters and accept their suffering for Christ’s sake" . Same counted for the payed labour force. Obedience and poverty were seen as benificiary for the soul and reinforcing the faith.

  • $\begingroup$ It seems true that the Church doesn't "oppose" capitalism. But it doesn't endorse it either! It strongly opposes socialism and it strongly opposes socially irresponsible capitalism just as well. The truth is really that capitalism stems from a healthier understanding of property & wealth (in its fundamental agreement that people have the right to their own property & wealth) while socialism denies that right. Socialism also stems from an atheistic perspective that disrespects human dignity. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Dec 1 '21 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas the question is about a hypothetical industrial revolution in the middle ages and the church. I have put an answer with two history sources telling us the church was a pioneer in industrial activity at the time. The church never had any objection against capitalism. Not then.. not in the 19th century.. I think your political reaction - church versus socialism - shows why this topic was closed... if I would go polemizing against you - as I would elsewhere - we would both be off-topic ! So please do not provoke me and others to proceed this line of debate. Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 2 '21 at 7:23

The theology of the Catholic church doesn't change. It is what it is. People either accept it or they don't.

Industrialization doesn't affect the Church's theology. Industrialization eventually leads to education and once people become educated it is then that they begin to question their situation and whether they accept the Church's theology.

The thing about the Catholic church and other religions is religions require people to accept all aspects of their theology. They can't pick and choose, it's not a smorgasbord.

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    $\begingroup$ Except of course that the doctrines and discipline of the Catholic Church did change very significantly between the 15th century and our present days. In fact, almost all the important distinctions between the Western (Catholic) Church and the Eastern (Orthodox) Church were introduced after the 15th century. For example, the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Mother of God only dates from 1854, and the dogma of papal infallibility from 1870; in the 15th century both of these doctrines were the subject of very active debate within the Catholic Church. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 30 '21 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ ... And they are still changing. For example, popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI spoke (but not ex cathedra) apparently approving of the idea that the Purgatory is not a defined place (like Heaven and Hell) but rather a transitory state of the soul in the process of being purified, thus taking what can be seen as preliminary steps towards making Catholic doctrine compatible with Orthodox practice. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 30 '21 at 18:23

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