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What does 'to find willing ears' mean in the following context ?

Moreover, these advances in thought coincided with anti-church and government sentiment that was already growing among European commoners. The Catholic Church at the time was famously corrupt, and it often ruled using intimidation, fear, and false knowledge and was violently intolerant toward dissenters and heretics. Subsequently, when Enlightenment philosophers came along praising liberty and self-empowerment, they found willing ears.

http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/enlightenment/section1/page/2/

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  • It means they found people who were willing to consider and listen to their ideas. Aug 21 '15 at 2:17
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'Willing ears' is an idiom meaning 'people who are receptive [to the ideas presented]'.

The passage is explaining that people were more willing to listen to ideas of liberty and self-empowerment, because of the bad things the Church (which, it is implied, opposed those ideas) had been doing to them.

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