Through councils, there were many attempts in the Reformation period to overcome the splits. There were many councils – the great one of Worms and Augsburg, in which the Reformation got its final formulation and its classical expression. But the demand for a general council never stopped and finally a council was called to the place which you call Trent – Triente, in the southern slopes of the Alps, a very beautiful place. And there, for several decades, continuously interrupted, sessions took place from which the Reformers were actually excluded.
So instead of becoming a universal council, it became a council of the Counter- Reformation.
Now the Counter-Reformation is reformation: it is not simply reaction. It is reformation insofar as the Roman church, after the Council of Trent, was not what it was before. It was a church determined by its self-reaffirmation against the great attack of the Reformation. And this is always something quite different. If something is attacked and reaffirms itself, it is not the same. One of the characteristics is that it has been narrowed down. Don’t see the medieval Church in the light of present-day, post-Tridentine Catholicism. It is something quite different. The medieval Church was open, in every direction, and had for instance such tremendous contrasts as that of the Franciscans and Dominicans (Augustinians and Aristotelians); it had the tremendous contrasts of the realists and nominalists, of the Biblicists, and mystics, etc. All this was possible. Then in the Counter-Reformation, many possibilities which the Roman church had, were shut off completely forever. The Roman church now became the church of “counter” – namely, the “counter” of reformation, as the Protestant church, the prophetic principle, became the principle of protest against Rome.
This is the unwholesome split of Christianity. The Reformation, instead of becoming the reformation of the whole Church, became the dogma of the protesting group,. the “Protestants,” to which we belong. The non-protestants reformed themselves, but in terms of “counter,” in terms of opposition to something, not in terms of immediate creativity. And this is also always the historical situation: if group has to resist, it narrows down. Now take simply the attack of Communism on the Western world, on this country, and the tremendous amount of narrowing down of the freedoms, for which this country stands, in the defense of these freedoms. It is exactly the same situation, and the situation which we always have in history. The Reformation itself was very wide open. Then in and against the Reformation, all kinds of attacks were made and the result was a very narrow Protestant Orthodoxy – we call it here “fundamentalism” – which was not the Reformation itself, but the narrowing down of the Reformation, in the resistance against external attacks. This leads me immediately to the first points of the Council of Trent. which is the basis for the development of the Roman church..
Council of Trent. The doctrine of the authorities in the Catholic Church.
1) The traditional holy Scriptures and the Apocrypha of the Old Testament are both Scriptures and of equal authority. Now Luther had removed the Apocrypha of the Old Testament from canonic validity. He would have liked to remove many more books from canonic validity, e. g., the Book of Esther, and things like that. But he was able to remove the Apocrypha – the books which were not openly acknowledged, but “hidden.” Why is this important? The important thing is that these Apocrypha have a very special character, the character of legalism. They are legalism in terms of proverbs, to a great extent. And this legalistic spirit entered for a long time the Roman church, and now was preserved in terms of the authority of the Apocryphal books. So we have two Bibles, the Roman and the Protestant, and they are not identical.