Colloquy of Regensburg

In Regensburg Colloquy on May 26, 2009 at 2:25 am

Representatives from Rome and leading Protestants came together at Regensburg in 1541 in order to seek a doctrinal agreement that could restore peace to the Church. The discussions notably became a highpoint for the spirituali, reformers who had remained loyal to the old Church. Much has been written on the meeting, its initial headway on the doctrine of justification, and its ultimate failure. Among the scholars who have studied Regensburg is Anthony N.S. Lane, whose writings can be consulted for more information.

The fifth of the Regensburg articles draws the greatest interest. It is concerned with justification and marks the attempt to find a position acceptable to both sides. Below are links to several versions of the text of the article.

For comparison, the Council of Trent’s definition of Roman Catholic teaching on justification can be found here. On the Protestant side, Richard Hooker’s “Learned Discourse on Justification” can be accessed here. This interview with Dr Christopher Malloy may also be helpful on justification, as may this essay from an opposite perspective by Bp C. FitzSimons Allison. Additionally, this documentary from PBS takes a look at the spirituali, focusing on Michelangelo’s connection to the group. The famous Beneficio di Cristo can be found here.

Cardinal Contarini

In Cardinal Contarini on May 26, 2009 at 1:10 am

Cardinal Gasparo Contarini journeyed to Regensburg on behalf of the Pope. Earlier in life he had undergone a religious experience somewhat resembling Luther’s. Contarini was conciliatory toward the Protestants on salvation, but held firmly to the Roman stance on other issues of contention. More on Contarini can be found in a book by Elisabeth G. Gleason, accessible here.

Contarini sought without avail to gain his Church’s approval for the agreement on justification. Below are links to two of his letters from May of 1541. The first letter provides a brief introduction meant to clarify the meaning of article five. The second is longer and lays out the twofold justice thesis for which Contarini is remembered.

Letter Introducing the Regensburg Agreement

Epistle on Justification

The translations are my own and amount to an initial attempt at bringing the texts into English. They are provided as is and for personal use only.

Cardinal Pole

In Cardinal Pole on May 26, 2009 at 1:06 am

Cardinal Reginald Pole was the last Archbishop of Canterbury to be in communion with the Pope. He lived as an exile in Italy for much of his life, and although not present at Regensburg, he was known, like Contarini, as a leading figure among the spirituali. He, too, was desirous of reform from within the existing institutions of the Church.

Unlike Contarini, Pole lived to see the Council of Trent, where he served as a papal legate. Trent posed a major dilemma for him, since his original convictions about salvation diverged from what the Council would define. Pole ultimately submitted to the Council. The story of his apparent anguish in this matter is recounted by Dermot Fenlon in Heresy and Obedience in Tridentine Italy.

As the Council deliberated on justification, Cardinal Pole was eventually required to write a summary of his views. In October of 1546 he prepared a positive statement on the issue as well as a short commentary on a draft of the decree. Both documents may be found in volume 12 of Concilium Tridentinum. The former is given below.

For comparison, scans of a 1562 printing of Pole’s work De Concilio may be found here.

Again, the translation is my own and amounts to an initial attempt at bringing the text into English. It is provided as is and for personal use only.