Ignatius of Loyola and Ideas of Catholic Reform | Vince Ryan | Ignatius Insight
How to categorize or describe Catholic reforming activity in sixteenth century has been the subject of intense historical debate. The term Counter-Reformation itself presupposes that any reforming activity by the Catholic Church was in response to the ideas and actions of the Reformation. In the nineteenth century, the German historian, Wilhelm Maurenbrecher, began using Catholic Reformation to describe the reforming activity within the Church that did not arise in response to Protestantism. Pre-dating Luther, this movement of Catholic reformers in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries sought to rectify the abuses in the Church and thus renew its practices and mission.
A useful parallel for the early stages of this movement would be the Gregorian reforms of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when a group of churchmen, primarily in response to the various clerical abuses of the time, implemented a series of ecclesiastical reforms to eliminate the lax and sometimes scandalous activities of the clergy and to guard against the encroachment of secular powers upon Church offices. Those who called for and carried out reform within the Catholic Church on the eve of the Protestant Reformation were working within this tradition. Prominent figures in this movement were Ximenes de Cisneros, John Colet, John Fisher, Gasparo Contarini and even Erasmus of Rotterdam. These men advocated reform through improved education, greater emphasis upon the New Testament, and the good example of Church leaders. 
St. Ignatius of Loyola
Today most scholars agree that Catholic reforming activity in this era should be viewed through both the Counter-Reformation and Catholic Reformation lenses. While such revision has gained more general acceptance, various figures of the period need to be re-examined under this enhanced perspective. St Ignatius of Loyola is one such individual.