According the wikipedia article Colloquy at Poissy

Catharine [de' Medici] appointed a smaller committee of five Calvinists and five Roman Catholics. Their task was to devise a formula on which the two churches might unite with regard to the question of the Eucharist. The Cardinal of Lorraine had asked whether the Calvinists were prepared to sign the Confession of Augsburg, a matter of dissension between them and the Lutheran Protestants. The committee drafted a vague formula which could be interpreted in a Catholic or a Calvinistic sense, and was consequently condemned by both parties. The assemblage of prelates refused assent, and the Calvinists would not sign up to the Lutheran Confession.

Why did the Catholics use a Lutheran formula? Does it mean they (or at least the Cardinal of Lorraine) were prepared to accept it?

1 Answer 1


After the break between the Catholics and the Protestant reformers, moderate Catholic rulers such as the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V tried to reconcile the two sides. At his instigation, Protestant theologians developed a statement of principles called the Confession of Augsburg that was acceptable to some Catholics. Even Charles V conceded in 1530 (and here I'm paraphrasing), "if that's how you feel, we're not so far apart, and we can agree to disagree," allowing for a temporary and limited reconciliation between the two sides. This document was signed by a young priest named John Calvin.


About 30 years later, a then-moderate ruler, Catherine de Medici of France, tried a similar reconciliation between the Catholics and Calvinists. But with the latter group, it was a case of their being "more royalist than the king, more Catholic than the pope". When they were asked at the Colloquy at Poissy whether they would subscribe to the Apology of Augsburg (which their own leader, John Calvin, had signed) as a first step toward reconciliation, their answer was a pointed "no." From then on, the breach between them and the Catholics got worse, leading to the St. Bartholomew's massacre of 1574.

All this pointed out that Calvinism was too extreme even for Catholics that were willing, or least preferred, to come to terms with Lutheranism. The latter religion preached that salvation came by faith alone, and opposed the Catholic "sale of indulgences," the Catholic idea that salvation could be "bought" by donations to the church. But Calvinist preached that mankind was "totally depraved," and therefore damned, except by the arbitrary exercise of God's forgiveness, a doctrine too extreme for most theologians.

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    According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confession_of_Augsburg, Karl V responded to the Augsburg Confession by the "Pontifical Confutation of the Augsburg Confession" and "gave the Lutheran princes until April 15, 1531, to respond to the demands of the Confutation", so it doesn't seem he "agreed to disagree".
    – Vanessa
    Oct 19, 2011 at 16:37
  • @Squark: He also declared their (initial) response "sufficient." The fact that he would allow/encourage back and forth debate is quite remarkable in itself. At any rate, "Augsburg" was a model of concord relative to the later Colloquy of Poissy.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 19, 2011 at 16:45
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    he declared his own "Confutation" to be sufficient: "...the official response known as the Pontifical Confutation of the Augsburg Confession was produced to the Diet, though the document was so poorly prepared that the document was never published for widespread distribution, nor presented to the Lutherans at the Diet. However, in September, Charles V declared the response to be sufficient..."
    – Vanessa
    Oct 20, 2011 at 22:41

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