Conference of Regensburg


Conference of Regensburg

The Conference of Regensburg was a conference held at Regensburg in 1541, which marks the culmination of attempts to restore religious unity in Germany by means of conferences.

It was a continuation of negotiations at Hagenau (June, 1540) and at Worms, where the deliberations began on Jan. 14, 1541, on the basis of the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, but after four days were adjourned by the emperor to the session of the diet which was soon to meet at Regensburg. On Dec. 15, 1540, a secret conference took place between Johann Gropper, canon of Cologne, and Gerhard Veltwick, the imperial secretary, on the one side and Butzer and
Capito, the delegates of Strasburg, on the other. An agreement was reached on the questions of original sin and justification, but the concession made by the Roman Catholics at Hagenau, to negotiate on the basis of the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, was withdrawn. On Jan. 5 Butzer laid a German draft of the conclusions reached before the Landgrave, who approved it as preliminary to an agreement and sent it to Joachim II, Elector of Brandenburg, with the request to communicate it to Luther and the other princes of the Protestant league. The document was essentially identical with the later so-called Regensburg Book, which formed the basis of the Regensburg Conference in place of the Augsburg Confession. It was divided into twenty-three articles, some of which closely approached the Evangelical view; but it decided no dogmatic question and did not exclude the Roman conceptions. On Feb. 13, 1541, the book was in the hands of
Luther. In spite of the apparent concessions made in regard to the doctrine of justification, he perceived that the proposed articles of agreement could be accepted by neither party. On Feb. 23 the emperor entered Regensburg. In consideration of his difficult political situation, especially of the threatening war with the Turks and the negotiations of the French king with the Evangelicals, it was his desire to pacify Germany. The conference was opened on Apr. 5. The interlocutors were Gropper, Pflug, and Eck on the one side, Butzer, the elder Johannes Pistorius, and Melanchthon on the other. Besides the presidents, Count Palatine Frederick and Cardinal Granvella, six witnesses were present, among them Burkhardt and Feige, chancellors of Saxony and Hesse, and Jakob Sturm of Strasburg. The first four articles, on the condition and integrity of man before the fall, on free will, on the cause of sin, and on original sin, passed without difficulty. The article on justification encountered great opposition, especially from Eck, but an agreement was finally arrived at; neither Elector John Frederick nor Luther was satisfied with this article. With respect to the articles on the doctrinal authority of the Church, the hierarchy, discipline, sacraments, etc., no agreement was possible, and they were all passed over without result. On May 31 the book with the changes agreed upon and nine counterpropositions of the Protestants was returned to the emperor. In spite of the opposition of Mainz, Bavaria, and the imperial legate, Charles V still hoped for an agreement on the basis of the articles which had been accepted by both parties, those in which they differed being postponed to a later time. As it was perceived that all negotiations would be in vain if the consent of Luther were not obtained, a deputation headed by John of Anhalt arrived at Wittenberg on June 9. Luther answered in a polite and almost diplomatic way. He expressed satisfaction in reference to the agreement on some of the articles, but did not believe in the sincerity of his opponents and made his consent dependent upon conditions which he knew could not be accepted by the Roman Catholics. Before the deputation had returned, the Roman party had entirely destroyed all hope of union. The formula of justification, which Contarini had sent to Rome, was rejected by a papal consistory. Rome declared that the matter could be settled only at a council, and this opinion was shared by the stricter party among the estates. Albert of Mainz urged the emperor to take up arms against the Protestants. Charles V tried in vain to induce the Protestants to accept the disputed articles, while Joachim of Brandenburg made new attempts to bring about an agreement. With every day the gulf between the opposing parties became wider, and both of them, even the Roman Catholics, showed a disposition to ally themselves with France against the emperor.

Outcome of the Conference

Thus the fate of the Regensburg Book was no longer doubtful. After Elector John Frederick and Luther had become fully acquainted with its contents, their disinclination was confirmed, and Luther demanded most decidedly that even the articles agreed upon should be rejected. On July 5 the estates rejected the emperor's efforts for union. They demanded an investigation of the articles agreed upon, and that in case of necessity they should be emendated and explained by the papal legate. Moreover, the Protestants were to be compelled to accept the disputed articles; in case of their refusal a general or national council was to be convoked. Contarini received instructions to announce to the emperor that all settlement of religious and ecclesiastical questions should be left to the pope. Thus the whole effort for union was already frustrated, even before the Protestant estates declared that they insisted upon their counterpropositions in regard to the disputed articles.

The supposed results of the religious conference were to be laid before a general or national council or before an assembly of the empire which was to be convoked within eighteen months. In the mean time the Protestants were bound to adhere to the articles agreed upon, not to publish anything on them, and not to abolish any churches or monasteries, while the prelates were requested to reform their clergy at the order of the legate. The peace of Nuremberg was to extend until the time of the future council, but the Augsburg Recess was to be maintained. These decisions might have become very dangerous to the Protestants, and in order not to force them into an alliance with his foreign opponents, the emperor decided to change some of the resolutions in their favor; but the Roman Catholics did not acknowledge his declaration. As he was not willing to expose himself to an interprellation on their part, he left Regensburg on June 29, without having obtained an agreement or a humiliation of the Protestants, and the Roman party looked upon him with greater mistrust than the Protestants.

Schaff-Herzog [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc09.html?term=Regensburg,%20Conference%20of]


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