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====Papacy and Religion====
Perhaps the great impact of the Papacy on Italy and beyond was on religious belief. The increasing secular outlook and policies of the Pope came to be viewed with disgust and outrage by many religious people, especially outside Italy. Many people in Christendom were worried that if the Pope was corrupt, was the church also corrupt and what did this mean for their salvation.<ref>Duffy, p. 334</ref> The Church at this period was in need of reform, all over Europe. The Popes did not attempt to reform the clergy and were too preoccupied in the pursuit of their interests in Italy and especially in the Papal States. The lives of the Popes scandalized many and led to many becoming disenchanted with the Catholic Church. Martin Luther visited Rome and was appalled by what he saw in Rome and at the Papal Court. The corruption of the Popes, such as Alexander IV, led to many people losing respect for the Papacy and even the Church. People grew tired of the endless demands for money by the Popes and they especially resented the sale of indulgences. These indulgences were sold by the Pope to shorten a souls stay in Purgatory after their death and many people, including the clergy saw it as a fraudulent practice.<ref> Bradshaw, Brendan (1983). "The Reformation and the Counter-Reformation"
. History Today. 33 (11): 42–45</ref>
Leo X sold indulgences in order to raise funds for the rebuilding of St Peter’s Basilica and this did much to harm the reputation of the Pontiff in German-speaking lands. The Renaissance Papacy inadvertently did much to spur the reform movement, that began when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to a Church Door in Wittenberg Germany and which ultimately led to a permanent schism in Christianity. The Renaissance Papacy with its worldliness greatly contributed to the Reformation and ended the unity of Christendom in Western Europe.<ref> Bradshaw, p. 43</ref>
The Renaissance was in many ways a golden age for the Popes, they returned to Rome after almost a hundred years and became once more independent of the French monarchs.<ref> Duffy, p. 302</ref> They Papacy recovered most of their lands in Central Italy and would remain a power in Italy until 1871. They also beautified Rome and did much to encourage the arts and literature by their patronage of great figures such as Michelangelo. The Papacy was also tolerant and this was essential in the great cultural flowering in Italy at his time. However, this all came at a great cost. The Popes became wealthy, powerful but corrupt and secular and neglected their spiritual role. They often advanced the interests of their families and personal ambitions no matter what the costs. The prestige of the Church declined and this lead to increasing disillusionment with the Church and ultimately it was to lead to the rise of Protestantism and the division of Christendom into two hostile religious groups, Catholics, and Protestants.