The Key to Understanding the Reformation

University of Oxford

Where does the Catholic Church stand 500 years after Luther and 50 years after Vatican II?

In 1517, Martin Luther’s protest ruptured Christendom. In the early 1960s, the Second Vatican Council concentrated its energy on understanding and overcoming the longstanding division between Catholics and Protestants with the hope of attaining unity.

This series explores the reform efforts undertaken by three great Councils of the Church: Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II. Stimulating theological discussions, amusing anecdotes, personal recollections, and touches of British humor are never in short supply with Fr. Henry Wansbrough, O.S.B., M.A., S.T.L., L.S.S. — a celebrated biblical scholar, member of the University of Oxford’s theology faculty, General Editor of The New Jerusalem Bible, Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey, and one-time member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (1997–2007).

At the World Lutheran Congress in Lund, Pope Francis gave thanks for the dissenting 16th-century German friar. At the time of Luther’s protest, the Church was indeed in need of reform. Pastoral care had fallen off and financial corruption had reached scandalously high levels.

Spurred into action by Luther’s protest, a reformation of the Catholic Church was led from within, by the Papacy. It is a movement in which Fr. Wansbrough urges all Christians — not Catholics alone — to take an active part.

Whatever your background, you will gain new understanding and hope for Christianity’s future.



  • Plan and Background
  • Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses
  • The Council of Trent
  • The Positive Contribution of The Council of Trent II
  • Vatican I and Papal Primacy
  • Windows Thrown Open – Vatican II and the Church
  • A New Model of Primacy
  • Dialogue for the Renewal of Unity

Henry Wansbrough, O.S.B., M.A., S.T.L., L.S.S., is a celebrated biblical scholar, member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford, and the General Editor of The New Jerusalem Bible. A Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey in northern England, he received an M.A. from the University of Oxford, a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the University of Fribourg, and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture in Rome. A member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission from 1997 to 2007, he has published more than twenty books, numerous scholarly articles, and more than a thousand book reviews.

Fr. Wansbrough is currently the Chairman of the Trustees of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain, the Alexander Jones Professor of Biblical Studies at Liverpool Hope University, and a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. He has previously served as Executive Secretary of the International Commission for Preparing an English-Language Lectionary, Chair of the Oxford University Faculty of Theology, and Master of St. Benet’s Hall at Oxford. Fr. Wansbrough has taught and lectured in varying locations in the United States, Africa, Jerusalem, Australia, and continental Europe, and he has led annual academic tours of Israel since 1972.

Praise for Fr. Henry Wansbrough

“Father Henry Wansbrough is one of the most erudite, well known and sought after Scripture scholars in the English-speaking world. His ability to unwrap the hidden depths of the Scriptures and to engender a deep desire for yet more is characteristic of an adept teacher and engaging preacher.”
– Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship & Discipline of the Sacraments or Archbishop Arthur Roche, Vatican City

“Dom Henry Wansbrough, OSB, has for many years informed and enriched our appreciation of Sacred Scripture. His work is always of a high standard and is an outstanding service in the Church.”
– Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

“Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB is one the most distinguished biblical scholars in the Church. I am delighted that his lectures on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ are being diffused worldwide and warmly commend them as works of excellent scholarship which will appeal to countless numbers of people.”
– Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster


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