Abstract and Keywords
This essay provides a broad overview of the main ecclesiological controversies within the Catholic Church between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries, and it shows how the Reformation affected the ways in which Catholic theologians understood the Church as both a spiritual community and a political government. This essay also explores some of the most relevant repercussions of the Catholic ecclesiological debates in the political history of post-Reformation Europe. By discussing issues such as the nature and scope of the supreme authority over the Church, the political aspect of the Church, and the complex relationship between political and spiritual authorities, early modern Catholic theologians contributed significantly to the broader history of Western thought. Moreover, following the developments of the Catholic ecclesiological debates can help us to put the political history of Europe in a wider theoretical and transnational perspective.