Was there any value to the Reformation at all and would you admit with Cardinal Yves Congar that corruption and error within the Roman Catholic Church at the time contributed to the historical events of the Reformation?
Without a quotation from Yves Cardinal Congar and a citation so that it may be read in context, I cannot comment on what Cardinal Congar may or may not have said about the Reformation. Let’s consider then the more general question of whether good came from the Reformation.
First, let’s remember the Catholic Church’s view of what the Reformation was: To the Church’s view it was a schism from the Church Christ founded. If someone approaches the question from the understanding that Christ founded the Catholic Church (the Catholic view), one cannot justify a mass schism from Christ’s own Church for any reason. Such a person could, however, agree that God could bring good from an objectively bad situation; just as God can always bring good from bad. It doesn’t legitimize what is objectively bad, but one can agree that good can be brought about by God.
With that presupposition firmly in place, we can look at some of the goods that came from that turbulent era in Church history:
[list]It galvanized the Catholic Church to correct widespread abuses and misunderstandings of Church doctrine.[/list]
[list]It led to the outpouring of the grace of conversion for many who fell away from the Church but who came back. St. Francis De Sales, for example, is credited with being instrumental to the conversion of over 60,000 Calvinists.[/list]
[list]It inspired Catholic saints who were interested in true Christian reformation – renewal from within – such as the founders of the Discalced Carmelites, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila; Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits; Philip Neri, the era’s Apostle of Rome; Charles Borromeo and Pius V, who implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent; and many others.[/list]
[list]It inspired the Council of Trent, which more clearly explicated Catholic doctrine on points disputed with Protestants and regularized Catholic practice.[/list]
[list]After the trauma of the loss of a united Christendom, it inspired in the Church a new interest in evangelization, which would eventually bring the gospel to the Far East and to the Americas.[/list]
The list could probably be multiplied, but these are a few of the goods that God brought from the tragedy of the Protestant Reformation.