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( Latin interim , meanwhile.)

Interims are temporary settlements in matters of religion, entered into by Emperor Charles V (1519-56) with the Protestants.


The Interim of Ratisbon, published at the conclusion of the imperial diet, 29 July, 1541. It was based on the result of the previous conference between Catholics and Protestants, in which an agreement had been reached on the idea of justification and other points of doctrine. Consequently the imperial "recess" enacted that the adjustment of the religious question should be postponed until the next general council or imperial diet; that meanwhile the Protestants should not go beyond or against the articles agreed upon; that an ecclesiastical reform be inaugurated by the prelates ; that the Peace of Nuremberg (1532) should be maintained; that monasteries and chapter-houses should remain intact; that the ecclesiastics should retain their possessions; that the Protestants should not draw anyone to their side; that all judicial proceedings in matters of religion should be suspended ; that the imperial court of justice ( Reichskammergericht ) should remain as before; and that the recess of Augsburg (1530) should remain in force. Owing to the opposition of the Protestants, Charles V in a secret declaration made concessions to them, which practically nullified the recess. The articles agreed upon were to be accepted in the sense of their theologians ; the monasteries and chapter-houses might be called on to inaugurate a reform; the ecclesiastics, monasteries, and chapter-houses, that had embraced the Confession of Augsburg, were to remain in the full possession of their property ; the Protestants were not to compel the subjects of Catholic princes to embrace their Faith, but if anyone came to them spontaneously, he was not to be hindered; the members of the imperial court of justice were not to be molested, if they turned Protestants ; and the recess of Augsburg was to have force only in matters not appertaining to religion.


The Interim of Augsburg, published at the conclusion of the imperial diet, 30 June, 1548. In twenty-six chapters, it comprised statements on matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline. The points of doctrine were all explained in the sense of Catholic dogma, but couched in the mildest and vaguest terms; and wherever it was feasible, the form and the concept approached the Protestant view of those subjects. In matters of ecclesiastical discipline two important concessions were made to the Protestants, viz, the marriage of the clergy, and Communion under both kinds. In addition, an imperial ordinance enjoined on the Catholic clergy the execution of reforms in the choice and ordination of ecclesiastics, the administration of the sacraments, and other similar matters.


The Interim of Augsburg was meant principally for the Protestants, whose return to the Catholic Faith was looked for; but nearly everywhere they very strongly opposed it. In order to make it less objectionable, a modification was introduced by Melanchthon and other Protestant divines, commissioned thereto by Elector Maurice of Saxony (1521-53). In a meeting held at Alt-Zella in November, 1548, they explained in a Protestant sense what they considered essential points of doctrine, e.g. justification and others; they accepted the non-essentials or adiaphora, such as confirmation, Mass, the use of candles, vestments, holy days, etc. The document then drawn up became known as the Interim of Zella, or the Small Interim. In the diet held at Leipzig in December, 1548, it was adopted by the estates of the Electorate of Saxony, and was then called the Interim of Leipzig, or the Great Interim.

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