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Diet of Odense

1527. A meeting in Denmark* of the Catholic majority and the Lutheran minority, marking a decisive turning point in the history of the Reformation in that country. At his coronation in 1523 Frederik I had promised to protect and preserve the Catholic Church and to oppose and suppress the Lutheran heresy. When the Reformation grew stronger, however, and spread throughout his kingdom, he followed a policy of tolerance and even extended his personal protection to Hans Tausen* and other Lutheran preachers. When at Odense the Catholics demanded that the king fulfill his obligations, withdraw protection from the Lutherans, and deliver them up to clerical jurisdiction, the king stated the principle that “the king's power and authority is good for life and property, not for the souls.” The norm of the church is the Gospel, according to Scripture. When interpretations of the Gospel differ, it is not for the king to pass sentence or use coercion in matters of faith. The preaching of the Gospel must therefore be free, until an ecumenical council has finally decided which interpretation of the Gospel is the true one. This principle of religious toleration formed the legal foundation for Frederik's policy of coexistence of a national Catholic Church alongside free Lutheran congregations, until the final accomplishment of the Reformation in Denmark in 1536.