3 May 2012
Venue: Room 501, Level 5, Arts 1 (Building 206)
Host: Nick Thompson
In the decade between the convocation of the Council of Trent in 1536 and its first session in December 1545, Charles V explored the possibility of reuniting the German church by means of a national council. Five colloquies of Catholic and Protestant theologians met between 1539 and 1546 to find ways of bridging the theological gulf between them. Although the doctrine of Purgatory seemed integral to the traditional rituals performed on behalf of the faithful departed, some Catholic negotiators were prepared to treat belief in Purgatory as an a matter of private opinion, provided that the Protestants retained prayers for the dead in the Mass and other funeral rituals. These negotiations collapsed in the mid-1540s, and both sides retreated to more entrenched positions. However, even the polemical exchanges that followed the failure of the religious colloquies showed greater nuance and pastoral flexibility than is found in the wider Reformation debate on care for the dead.