The state of the Roman Catholic Church on the eve of the Protestant Reformation was absolute shambles. The priests, bishops, and the pope kept the scriptures from the people. The clergy would use the Church for their own gain, leaving many thousands of people without any teaching at all. The Bibles were barred from the pulpit, and obscure verses would be preached in Latin to the ignorant serfs. The Dark Ages were a time of spiritual backwardness, all such knowledge being withheld by the Roman Church and possibly a few of the higher ups in the nobility.
Some would argue that the Roman Church kept Western Civilization alive. Except for the preservation of ancient documents, which would easily have been done by others and been more widely available than ever, the Roman Church did little to nothing to advance or even protect Western Civilization. It wasn’t until those documents were removed from the monasteries through war, or from learned men becoming Protestants following Martin Luther’s stand against the Papacy, that a free market was allowed to flourish. As the Scriptures became more available via such Protestant inventions like the printing press, and the common man learned to read and write, was Western Civilization truly able to establish a foothold in the world.
As the Roman Church finally began to fall apart, and true light began to reach the common people, they took that light and changed the world forever.