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The Religious Peace of Augsburg (September 25, 1555)

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§ 16. [Protection of the Adherents of the Catholic Faith] On the other hand, the estates that have accepted the Augsburg Confession shall suffer His Imperial Majesty, Us, and the electors, princes, and other estates of the Holy Empire, who adhere to the old religion, to abide in like manner by their religion, faith, church usages, ordinances, and ceremonies. They shall also leave undisturbed their possessions, real and personal property, lands, people, dominions, government, honors, and rights, rents, interest, and tithes. [ . . . ]

§ 17. [Exclusion of Adherents of Other Confessions] All others, however, who are not adherents of either of the aforementioned religions are not included in this peace, but shall be altogether excluded from it.

§ 18. [Ecclesiastical Reservation] In the negotiation of this peace, there has been disagreement about what should be done when one or more of the spiritual estates should abandon the old religion, on account of the archbishoprics, bishoprics, prelacies, and benefices that were held by them, about which the adherents of both religions could not come to an agreement. Therefore, by the authority of the revered Roman Imperial Majesty, which has been fully delegated to Us, We mandate and proclaim that where an archbishop, bishop, prelate, or other spiritual incumbent shall depart from Our old religion, he shall immediately, without any opposition or delay, abandon his archbishopric, bishopric, prelacy, and other benefices, together with the fruits and incomes he may have received from it, though without prejudice to his honor. In such cases, the chapters and others who, according to the common canon law or the customs of the churches and other ecclesiastical foundations, have such rights, shall elect and introduce a member of the old religion as his successor. All of the above is subject to a future Christian, amicable, and final religious restoration.

§ 19. [Confiscated Ecclesiastical Properties] Since many of the estates and their ancestors have confiscated numerous abbeys, monasteries, and other ecclesiastical properties, and made use of them as churches, schools, and charitable institutions, these confiscated goods shall be covered by this peace, unless they are owned by those without any means or by direct Imperial subjects, or if the clergy have owned them at the time of the Treaty of Passau [1552] or subsequently. The status of these confiscated and redistributed properties shall be maintained, and the responsible estates shall not be brought to book in the interest of maintaining the permanent [Public] peace. On this account and by the power of this Imperial recess, We order and command the chief judge and other judges of the Imperial Chamber Court to recognize or accept no citation, order, or suit concerning the goods that were confiscated and converted to other purposes.

§ 20. [Suspension of Existing Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction] To the end that the aforementioned religious parties shall both enjoy a more secure peace and security among themselves, until a final religious peace is attained, the spiritual jurisdiction shall not be exercised or employed against the adherents of the Confession of Augsburg with respect to the religion, beliefs, clerical appointments, usages, rules, and ceremonies they have established. This rule shall not prejudice, however, the aforementioned electors’, princes’, and estates’, collegial churches’, monasteries’, and regular clergy's enjoyment of their rents, dues, interests, tithes, and secular leases – as well as secular tenures. On the contrary, such adherents' religion, beliefs, usages, rules, and ceremonies, and the activities of their ministers (about whom a special article follows) shall proceed without hindrance or intervention. Until the final Christian religious unity, the spiritual jurisdiction in these matters shall be and remain unexercised and suspended. In other matters, however, which do not concern the religion, faith, usages, rules, ceremonies, and ministerial activities of the Confession of Augsburg's adherents, the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates shall enjoy the exercise of their traditional spiritual authority everywhere and without hindrance. [ . . . ]

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