*Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Almost five decades after Martin Luther launched the Reformation with Ninety-Five Theses on the door of Wittenberg Church, the Council of Trent — the exhaustive Roman Catholic response to his charges — concluded with a final session on December 4, 1563. With years of fighting amongst Christians and a widening divide, bishops from all over Europe gathered for an ecumenical council that would define the Counter-Reformation and Catholic practice for centuries to come.
Though Martin Luther had made his voice heard on October 31, 1517, it took 28 years for the Roman Catholic Church to convene a leadership council. German Catholics, hoping to weave Lutheran followers back into a unified group of faithful, had called for a meeting to reconcile differences in the months after Luther burned Pope Leo X’s Exurge Domine in public. (The document named more than half of the Ninety-Five Theses as heresy.)
With the Germans and French kings fighting constantly, not to mention a papal desire to avoid choosing sides and facing the wrath of one or the other — as happened when soldiers from the Holy Roman Empire sacked Rome in 1527 — scheduling a meeting became impossible. Some insisted on including the Protestants while others believed it would merely encourage further rebellion. Though an ecumenical council was set for the middle of 1537, it would be delayed by war. …(Read more)