168 THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: CATHOLIC REFORM AND COUNTERREFORMATION IN AUSTRIA The Lutheran ecclesiastical structure in the Alpine hereditary lands was formalized at a time when its Catholic equivalent had recovered and laid the foundations for a counteroffensive. In the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church faced a profound challenge, which it met in different ways. In the beginning, the curia tried to squelch dissent with the instruments historically applied against heretics. Lacking the power to directly enforce its prescriptions, it depended on secular rulers. In this respect, however, the religious reform movement of the 1500s differed from its predecessors, since important princes refused to execute papal bulls against the new teachings and their protagonists. A troubled church hierarchy watched with dismay as a growing number of monarchs came out in support of the religious rebellion. Yet outright rejection of the reformers was not the only course available. Within the clergy, too, there was an awareness of spiritual and structural de?icits. The need for ecclesial reform was not only raised from the outside, but had many champions within the church. In fact, the founding fathers of Protestantism originated within the Catholic Church and initially saw it as their mission to reform their established spiritual home. Long after the deep chasm between Protestant reformers and Rome had become unmistakable, there were still those who hoped that moderate concessions, such as the dispensing of communion in both kinds, could facilitate the eventual reintegration of break-away forces into the Catholic Church. Emperor Charles V, who had a compelling personal interest in pacifying the emergent con?lict within his realm, promoted these efforts, which were also supported by such in?luential clerics as the Venetian-born cardinal Gasparo Contarini.34 In the end, the Catholic leadership chose a different path. At the Council of Trent, it promoted doctrinal purity and refused to compromise with the reform movements.35 When it was ?irst conceived, the great council of the church re?lected a different ambition. It was Charles V who hoped that this assembly could assuage the calls for a national council that were sounding throughout Germany and resolve the religious schism that had torn western Christianity apart. Therefore, the council was to be held on imperial soil and strive for reconciliation within a reformed Catholic Church. By the time it ?inally opened in 1545, however, much of the impetus for rapprochement had faded. Protestants were no longer interested in negotiating under the leadership of the pope, and the curia had given up any hope for an amicable return of the heretics to the fold. Even though the council convened within the borders of the Holy Roman Empire, it was dominated 34 For Contarini, see Gleason: Gasparo Contarini. 35 The classic study of the Council of Trent continues to be Jedin: Geschichte des Konzils von Tr ient .
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