In the fourteenth and fifteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church was all powerful in Western Europe. There was no legal alternative. The Catholic Church guarded its position and anybody who was deemed to have gone against the Catholic Church was labelled a heretic and burnt at the stake in those times. The Catholic Church did not tolerate any deviance from its teachings as any appearance of 'going soft' might have been interpreted as a sign of weakness which would be exploited. Ironically enough the church itself began to rot in its own immorality. .
According to eye witnesses, the church initiated a sale of indulgences, a type of pardon that excused individuals from doing penances for the sins and thus facilitated their entry into heaven. This had been available since the eleventh century but at the time, the church started aggressively marketing for the reconstruction of the St. Peter Basilica in Rome. This aggressive marketing brought large sums of money into the church. This rottenness was at the heart of the German monk's attack on the church with his piece "Ninety-Five Theses" which pressed the point that the church arrogated to themselves the powers that belonged properly to God alone: no human being had the power to absolve individuals of their sins and grant them admission to heaven. This alone would shatter the religious unity of the western Christendom, leading protestant movements in Germany, Switzerland, France and England even unto the monarchies of these countries. Seeing that the Catholic Church had so much political power over European countries, much would change if the monarchies drifted. With all of this happening, the Catholic Church refused to sit by and let this all happen. How did the Catholic Church seek to fight to save itself?.
One of the many Counter Reformation attempts was an enormous effort to reform itself from within church. They also sought to mark and clarify significant differences in their doctrine between them and Protestant Churches.