The discussion above can be summarized in three points that refer back to the introductory remarks.
1. On the basis of their social origin and social integration, both Protestant pastors and Catholic pastoral clergy were a part of that bourgeois group who acted in the service of the secular authority; this applies to all of early modern Europe. What the pastors' family achieved on the social level through familial contacts in Protestant areas was established through the mediated connections of extended family, clientage, and friendship in Catholic areas. The similarities are strengthened by the comparable form and contents of education and of educational institutions. Insofar as the state of research allows generalization, it seems that the pastoral clergy of both confessions had attained a comparable level of education by the seventeenth century. In Catholic areas university study was the exception but priests were required to complete their education at a seminary, whose standards surely met the qualifications for a specialized professional education. A complete course of study in theology was not the rule within Protestantism, either; having graduated from a philosophical faculty was a sufficient qualification. In comparison with the standards of pre-Reformation education, there was a clear improvement in education that can be called the early modern “path toward a profession.” This, together with the development of a social and familial network, allows us to characterize the pastoral clergy of Europe during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as a part of that “power elite”144 who were essential for the early modern period.
2. The formal conditions for the suitability of clerical officeholders reached cum grano salis a comparable level in all confessions throughout Europe during the seventeenth century. The disagreements concerning the evaluation of these conditions stem from the measures by which historical change is characterized. For the group of pastoral clergy examined here, the category of modernization proves to be insufficient, since there was a tendency transcending the confessions to appeal to prereformatory traditions in establishing an understanding of office. Historians must be able to describe how tradition was able both to accommodate and to be transformed.
3. From this point of view the question of the clergy’s suitability for the goal of the developing modern state encompasses only half of the historical reality. The clergy and their contemporaries who comprised their congregations were also concerned with their role as mediators of the holy, of “the religious” in the world. Clerical perception of self and of office was decisively stamped by the conviction that despite all contradictions these formed an insoluble unity. For this reason we must also consider for both confessions the broad impact of the doctrine of the Christian state, whose core was the doctrine of the three estates. In the political and social controversies of the late sixteenth century the political impulse of this doctrine grew in strength in a way more clearly seen in Protestantism than in the territories that remained Catholic. Nevertheless the concept of the monarchia temperata in the Catholic understanding of authority also gave the clergy a right to criticize the ruler. The long tradition of the correctio principis was put into practice through the clerical understanding of office in both confessions and became a very concrete reality for people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is a typically early modern way of developing tradition further through the consensus of generations, whose relevance the historian of the early modern period must take just as seriously as the attempts of the secular authority to use the power elites in their own interests.