Von Töply begins with Paul III., who is known in history more especially for his issuance of the Bull founding the Jesuits. It might ordinarily be presumed by those who knew nothing of this Pope, that the Head of the Church, to whom is due an institution such as the Jesuits are supposed to be, would not be interested to the slightest degree in modern sciences, and would be one of the last ecclesiastical authorities from whom patronage of science could possibly be expected. It was he, however, who founded special departments for anatomy and botany and provided the funds for a salary for a prosector of anatomy at Rome.

After this practically every Pope in this century has some special benefaction for anatomy to his credit. Pope Paul IV. (1555-59) called Columbus to Rome and gave him every opportunity for the development of his original genius in anatomical research. Columbus had succeeded Vesalius at Padua and had been tempted from there to Pisa by the duke who wished to create in that city a university with the most prominent teachers in every department that there was in Italy, yet it was from this lucrative post that Pope Paul IV. succeeded in winning Columbus. Quite apart from what we know of Columbus’s career at Rome and his successful investigation on the cadaver of many anatomical problems, perhaps the best evidence of the friendly relations of the Popes to him and to his work is to be found in the fact that, first Columbus himself, and then after his death his sons, in issuing their father’s magnificent work De Re Anatomica, dedicated it to the successor of Pope Paul IV., the reigning Pope Pius IV. In the meantime Cardinal Della Rovere had brought Eustachius to Rome to succeed Columbus.

Under Sixtus V., who was Pope from 1585 to 1590, the distinguished writer on medicine, and especially on anatomy, Piccolomini, published his lectures on anatomy with a dedication to that Pope. It is well known that the relations between the professor of anatomy at the Papal Medical School and the Pope were very friendly. As was the case with regard to Colombo or Columbus, so also with Caesalpinus. Columbus was the first to describe the pulmonary circulation. Caesalpinus is generally claimed by the Italians to have made the discovery of the circulation of the blood throughout the body before Harvey. Columbus had been at Pisa and was tempted to come to Rome. Caesalpinus had also been at Pisa until Clement VIII. held out inducements that brought him to Rome. Clement is the last Pope of the century, but Von Töply mentions five Popes in the next century who were in intimate relations with distinguished investigators into medical subjects and whose names are in some way connected with some of the most noteworthy teaching and writing in medical matters during the seventeenth century.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

How much was accomplished in applied science during the Middle Ages, that is, in those departments of science which are usually supposed to have been least cultivated, since educators are prone to ridicule the over-emphasis of speculation in education and the constant preoccupation of mind of the scholars of these generations with merely theoretic questions, may be appreciated from any history of the arts and architecture during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Some of the most difficult problems in mechanics as applied to the structural work of cathedrals, palaces, castles, fortresses, and bridges, were solved with a success that was only equaled by the audacity with which they were attempted. Men hesitated at nothing. There is no problem of mechanical engineering as applied to structural work which these men did not find an answer for in their wonderful buildings. This has been very well brought out by Prince Kropotkin in certain chapters of his book, Mutual Aid a Factor of Evolution, in which he treats of mutual aid in the medieval cities. He says:

“At the beginning of the eleventh century the towns of Europe were small clusters of miserable huts, adorned with but low clumsy churches, the builders of which hardly knew how to make an arch; the arts, mostly consisting of some weaving and forging, were in their infancy; learning was found in but a few monasteries. Three hundred and fifty years later, the very face of Europe had been changed. The land was dotted with rich cities, surrounded by immense thick walls which were embellished by towers and gates, each of them a work of art itself. The cathedrals, conceived in a grand style and profusely decorated, lifted their bell-towers to the skies, displaying a purity of form and a boldness of imagination which we now vainly strive to attain. The crafts and arts had risen to a degree of perfection which we can hardly boast of having superseded in many directions, if the inventive skill of the worker and the superior finish of his work be appreciated higher than rapidity of fabrication. The navies of the free cities furrowed in all directions the Northern Seas and the Southern Mediterranean; one effort more and they would cross the oceans. Over large tracts of land, well-being had taken the place of misery; learning had grown and spread; the methods of science had been elaborated; the basis of natural philosophy had been laid down; and the way had been paved for all the mechanical inventions of which our own times are so proud.”

The period for which Prince Kropotkin is thus enthusiastic in the matter of applied science, is all before the date usually given as the beginning of the Renaissance–the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The three centuries and a half from the beginning of the eleventh century represent just the time of the rise of scholasticism and the beginning of its decline. Few periods of history are so maligned as regards their intellectual feebleness, and in nothing is that quality supposed to be more marked than in applied science; yet here is what a special student of the time says of this very period in this particular department.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

A more important question is the relation of the “Tridentine” liturgy to its predecessors. The historical context of its emergence is: flourishing local liturgies, the destructive liturgical movements of the Renaissance, and the confusion caused by the Protestant Revolt. In this situation, the Council of Trent had to restore order and — at least according to its desire — return to the pristine Roman tradition as was clearly explained in the introduction to the Missal. The restoration or return had two components: the approval of all cathedral or monastic liturgies that had existed from time immemorial while removing some of their excesses; and secondly the proposal of a new exemplary Roman rite, originally only intended for those who did not possess a venerable, ancient, and basically Roman cathedral liturgy.

The basis of the “Tridentine” liturgy was the rite of the Roman Curia. This Ritus Curiae Romanae evolved at the turn of the 11th—12th century on the basis of old Italian and Roman traditions. In comparison with the other cathedral rites, it was a somewhat simplified variant of the same common order. The motivation for simplicity was twofold: limiting the increase of the Frankish-Roman liturgy (e.g., indifference toward the Offices of new saints, slowing the growth of trope and sequence repertory); and the separation of priests working in the Curial bureaucracy from the elevated public sung liturgy of cathedrals and parishes.

And thus many rich elements of the Holy Week liturgy, for example, fell victim to the Curial reform.

To sum up: the “Tridentine” liturgy belongs to the family of the Roman liturgy. All its essential features are identical with that liturgy. In other words, it is one of the many variants of the Roman liturgy – the ‘Tridentine” liturgy is Roman liturgy! In this sense, the “Tridentine” liturgy exists not only since the 16th , but since the 8th or 9th, or in some sense since the 4th century. But the Roman liturgy is not identical with the “Tridentine” liturgy: it is more than that. Those who follow the “Tridentine” liturgy, celebrate the Roman liturgy. But the Roman liturgy also lived in other, and in certain respects perhaps more perfect, forms.

Is the confusion of terminology in contemporary discourse the outcome of neglect or lack of knowledge? Instead, I think it is a conscious and malevolent deception.

When the choice is described in terms of the dichotomy: “conciliar liturgy — ‘Tridentine’ liturgy,” an impression is created that the matter concerns the opposition of two liturgical forms which are equally “zeitbedingt” or time-bound. The logic of this mentality is that the “Tridentine” rite is the liturgy of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, which perhaps worked well for the past 300 years, but today the needs of a new age and of modern man must be met with the new Vatican II liturgy. Accordingly, he who favors the “Tridentine” liturgy over the “conciliar” one desires to perpetuate the formalities of bygone times, and thus endangers the renewal of the Church. But if, on the contrary, the “Tridentine” liturgy in its essence is nothing other than the ancient Roman liturgy itself, it cannot be written off as Renaissance or Baroque or “zeitbedingt.” And then, the truth is that the recent innovations overrode not some 300-year-old custom, but in fact broke with the entire tradition of the Roman Church insofar as it is recognizable for us.

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)

It has come to be universally conceded in recent years that the Church was the great patron of art and of letters during these centuries. Without the inspiration of her teachings there would have been no sublime subjects for artists; without the lives of her saints there would have been much less opportunity for artistic expression; without the patronage of the cathedral builders, the high ecclesiastics, and above all the monastic orders, on whom, with so little reason, so much contempt has been heaped, there would have been none of that great art which developed during the centuries before what is called the Renaissance. In literature, everyone of the great national poems that lie at the basis of modern literature is shot through and through with sublime thoughts that owe their origin to the Church. We need only mention the Cid in Spain, the Arthur Legends in England, such works of the Meistersingers as Perceval and Arme Heinrich, the Golden Legend, the Romance of the Rose, and Dante,–all written during the thirteenth century alone, to illustrate Church influence in literature. This is, as we have said, admitted by all. It is supposed, however, that while the Church encouraged this side of human development, it effectually prevented the evolution of man’s scientific interests.

As a matter of fact, however, the Church did quite as much for science as for literature and art and charity, There has never been any question that under her fostering care philosophy developed in a very marvelous way. The scholastic philosophers are no longer held in the disrepute so ignorantly accorded them in the last century. It is recognized that scholastic philosophy represents a supremely great development of human thinking with regard to the relations of man to his Creator, to his fellow man, and to the universe. Even those who do not accept its conclusions now, if themselves educated men, no longer make little of those wonderful thinkers, but sympathize with their magnificent work. Only those who are ignorant of scholastic philosophy entirely, still continue to re-echo the expressions of critics whose opinions were founded on second-hand authorities and who confessedly had been unable to make anything out of the scholastics themselves. This field of philosophy was the real danger point for faith and the Church, yet its study was encouraged in every way, provided the philosophers kept within the bounds of their subject.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

While the witch-trials were previously regarded as a legacy of the ‘Dark Ages’ from which Europe struggled to release itself over a long period, scholars today agree that on this point the Middle Ages were considerably more ‘enlightened’ than the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The witch-trials were a phenomenon of the Renaissance that did not culminate before c. 1600.

Gustav Henningsen, “Witchcraft in Denmark” (1982)

Indeed no firm references to the use of torture by the Inquisition are to be found in surviving documents through the end of the thirteenth century. Other, less drastic means, it appears, were employed to pressure witnesses to reveal what they knew: close imprisonment, chaining in small cells, restrictions on food. Physical torture seems not to have been part of the ordinary scene of the inquisitorial procedure in Languedoc at the height of the Inquisition.

Unfortunately, torture did continue as a legal method for obtaining evidence in secular courts all over Europe throughout the late Middle Ages and well into the High Renaissance, and beyond. England under the Tudors equated heresy with treason, and by order of the Privy Council the Jesuit Edmund Campion, among others, was tortured and eventually hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn Hill. The charge? He was a Catholic priest living in England. In time, torture was no longer employed in Europe, not because it came to be perceived as being inhumane (it had always been recognized as being a repulsive way of obtaining evidence), but because circumstantial evidence came to be accepted as sufficient proof to convict…With the emergence of the jury system the legal proofs which were required to be present in order to convict were done away with.

Albert Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition (1991)

Another matter is the spirit of the Reformation itself, which was only to a very limited extent in keeping with the spirit of humanism and the Renaissance. On the whole, as we have said before, it was a reaction against the spirit of the times; it was a rigoristic movement, and thus ” medieval” in the popular sense. Intelligent Catholics have always understood that the Reformation was a movement towards and for more religion rather than the opposite.

At the Diet of Nuremberg (1523) Pope Hadrian VI, through his Legate, made a moving declaration which squarely blamed the Church for the Reformation. Many Catholics – as, for instance, the late Mgr. Seipel, Chancellor of Austria, and Giovanni Papini – see not in the Middle Ages but in the Renaissance and the Baroque the great Catholic age. D. H. Lawrence was at least symbolically right when he wrote that the Pilgrim Fathers ran away from the new European liberty of the Renaissance. Of all early Reformers probably only Zwingli was a humanist, a humanitarian and a liberal; while Luther, no less than Calvin, preached a holy war against the “paganized” Catholic Church. Nothing could be more erroneous than to follow in the footsteps of nineteenth century liberal opinion and to see in Luther a herald of the Chromium Age, with “democracy,” civil liberties, bath tubs, refrigerators and the U.N. just around the corner.

There was something decidedly Islamic in original Protestantism, with its idea of an all-controlling hidden God and His infallible Prophet, its secularization of marriage, its puritanism and messianism. Even today some of the survivals of original (i.e., pre-liberal) Protestantism in remote parts of Scandinavia, Holland, Scotland and the United States have, at least culturally, more affinity with the Wahhãbïs than with the Catholics from which they stem. It must be borne in mind that not so much the authoritarian organization but the liberal theology of Catholicism was the target of the reformers.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of Our Time (1940)