|dc.description.abstract||Since the end of the twenties, since the initiation of
Visitations in Electoral Saxony, since the Diet of Speyer,the
Reformation had been clothing itself in quite definitely
confessional garb. Emergent Protestantism witnesses to the disruptive
and creative influence of the Reformation on the totality of political, social, and cultural life.
If, however, Protestantism was a political and cultural
phenomenon as well as an ecclesiastical one, the same is true
of Catholicism. What confronted one another at the Diet of Regensburg
in 1541 were not only two theological alternatives but
also two cultural and political alternatives.
Of these two alternatives it is the Protestant one which,
understandably, has received the more generous attention. Yet
pre-tridentine Catholicism is not without its own peculiar interest,
is by no means all disintegration and confusion. The Machiavellianism
of Curial diplomacy is as much in line with the trend
of things to come as the Erasaianism of the Imperial Court. Even
the traditionalist component to pre-tridentine Catholicism is
by no means an undifferentiated quantity.
Contarini's activity at Regensburg mirrors the richness and
elusiveness of this Catholicism. The very fact of his presence
at the Diet cannot be wondered at enough. It is at least as
significant as the eventual failure of his mission. For if it
was the inner contradictions of pre-tridentine Catholicism, as
exemplified in Contarini, which were to be so cruelly exposed
by the Diet, it was these same contradictions which had enabled
an exercise in reconciliation to take place at all.
Contarini may have understood something of Lutheran theology.
Of Protestantism he had not the slightest comprehension. His
ecumenical concern and his understanding of Justification prepared
him only to deal with the former. Hence his retreat when
faced by the full implications of a Protestant Church and a
Protestant culture, first to a confessional Catholicism, and
then to an intolerant Curialism.
The dialogue between Protestantism and Catholicism at the
Diet of Regensburg in 1541 did not fail. It never took place.||en