A statue of Luther in the Vatican and a new papal definition of ‘lukewarm’

A statue of Luther in the Vatican and a new papal definition of ‘lukewarm’


John-Henry Westen

October 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis will travel to Lund, Sweden, next week to assist in the launch of a yearlong commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the door of the castle church of Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

In a lead-up event at the Vatican on October 13, the Pope received a group of 1,000 Lutherans and Catholics from Germany in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall and addressed them from the stage where a statue of Luther was erected. The sight came as a shock to many Catholics because Luther was excommunicated and his theses rejected by Pope Leo X in 1520. The split he caused in Christianity remains as one of the most damaging in the Church’s 2,000-year history.

At the meeting, Francis reinforced his admonition from earlier this month against converting people. Weeks after saying it is a “very grave sin against ecumenism” for Catholics to try to convert Orthodox Christians, Pope Francis told the pilgrims “it is not licit” to “convince [non-Christians] of your faith.” In that meeting, the pope also offered a novel definition of “lukewarm,” which according to Pope Francis is when Christians “are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions.”

The word ‘lukewarm’ has significant meaning to Christians because of the words of Christ revealed in St. John’s Revelation (3:15-16): “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” The common interpretation of the verses was to condemn the practice of picking and choosing among the Christ’s teachings rather than holding to all of them. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “Half-hearted commitment to the faith is nauseating to Christ.”

In answer to a question about what he likes about the Lutheran Church, the pope said, “I really like good Lutherans, Lutherans who really practice their faith in Jesus Christ. What I don’t like are lukewarm Catholics and lukewarm Lutherans.” Italian daily La Stampa’s Vatican Insider quotes the pope as saying it’s a “contradiction” when Christians “are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions.”

The Pope’s application of Christ’s strong condemnation to those who would be averse to other religions is perhaps a warning to those who would object to his coming praise for Luther scheduled for October 31. Swedish Catholic professor Clemens Cavallin points out in an essay on the upcoming celebration with Pope Francis in Lund that the common prayer service to be used has a very positive view of Luther.

“The text,” he says, “paints a picture of Luther as a religious hero who found the way to a more true form of Catholicism.” Cavallin notes that in the liturgical guide, the Common Prayer, a section called Thanksgiving, is intended to express, “our mutual joy for the gifts received and rediscovered in various ways through the renewal and impulses of the Reformation. After the prayer of thanksgiving, the whole assembly joins in singing thanks for and praise of God’s work.”

“The ecumenical journey enables Lutherans and Catholics to appreciate together Martin Luther’s insight into and spiritual experience of the gospel of the righteousness of God, which is also God’s mercy,” the text says.

The section concludes with the following prayer of gratitude:

Thanks be to you, O God, for the many guiding theological and spiritual insights that we have all received through the Reformation. Thanks be to you for the good transformations and reforms that were set in motion by the Reformation or by struggling with its challenges. Thanks be to you for the proclamation of the gospel that occurred during the Reformation and that since then has strengthened countless people to live lives of faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.

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9 comments on “A statue of Luther in the Vatican and a new papal definition of ‘lukewarm’

  1. Pretty sure that statue is made of chocolate.

  2. I guess Hershey Heretics are a thing now:

  3. Who’s next? Cromwell? Henry VIII? Elizabeth I? Calvin?

    • [While we don’t know yet which heretic’s statue will next grace the Vatican, there is one outside the Vatican (at the Campo de’ Fiori) of a not-so-well known Reformation heretic who was burned at the stake at that place in 1600 by decree of the Roman Inquisition for his various heresies–namely, the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno, who is memorialized by a statue on that site erected in 1889 by the anti-Catholic Masonic government of Rome. Howl’s comment reminded me of a satirical piece from the now dormant Fumare weblog, including a strange commemoration of that heretic at the location of his statue]



      Kennedy to Cardinals: You’re All Bigots!….Cardinal to Kennedy: You’re a Fat Drunk!

      Rome (AP)–Senator Edward Kennedy wasted no time in commenting on the proposed federal marriage amendment to the United States Constitution. In harsh language, characteristic of the reigning Kennedy patriarch, he denounced amendment supporters by thundering “[a] vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry, pure and simple.” The Senate takes up debate on the issue today. This statement is not unusual for the socially-minded and outspoken Dean of the congressional liberal establishment. What is surprising is the fact that he includes senior churchmen of his own Church as the object of his statements. The 7 Catholic Cardinals of the U.S. signed a statement in support of the amendment. Richard Lessner broke the story for Human Events yesterday.

      While the U.S. Cardinals have been silent in the face of these attacks, an outspoken retired Cardinal in Rome has not been. Giovanni Cardinal Marotta, 98, a retired official of the Roman Rota and Titular Archbishop of Colossae, spoke out forcefully today against the senior Senator from Massachusetts. “Senator potor corpulentus est! ” (Which roughly translates as “The Senator is a fat drunk!”) The frail elderly Cardinal, who makes his home at the Villa Santa Zita on the outskirts of Rome, still keeps abreast of the American political scene. Fr. Hilario Lim, J.C.D., canonist and former student of Cardinal Marotta said, ” This is vintage Marotta. His Eminence has for a long time been critical of Catholic politicians espousing positions contrary to the Faith. While some might disagree with Cardinal Marotta’s approach, he sees it as an imitation of Our Lord when he called the Pharisees a ‘brood of vipers.'”

      A cigar chewing, scotch drinking native of Florence, Cardinal Marotta was styled by one Vatican observer as a “modern day Dante.” An outspoken cleric, he has held a number of influential posts and was once considered a papabile. He and colleague Cardinal Silvio Oddi were critics of the Vatican’s permissiveness with regard to the liturgical reforms initiated by Vatican II. He was the canonical advisor to Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, the powerful Head of the Holy Office (now, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and, most recently, helped author Dominus Iesus, a controversial document that stated that Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church are the only means of salvation. In his later years, Marotta retired to a villa outside of Rome where he writes and offers spiritual direction.

      In a famous incident in 1985, the Cardinal and some Jesuit seminarians were seen in the Campo de’ Fiori drinking scotch, smoking his trademark cigar and singing boisterously. “It was unbelievable! I was deeply offended,” said Francesca Delle Torre, then a student organizer of Marxista. “The Cardinal and seminarians were obviously intoxicated and the disrespect…(sob)…(sob)…it was too much.” Delle Torre, now a campus minister, recalls that the Cardinal and his young confreres were toasting the statue of the bound Giordano Bruno and singing the Platters’ famous hit Smoke gets in your Eyes. The Vatican did not take disciplinary action.

      “He calls it like he sees it, and unlike the Senator from Massachusetts, he also tells the truth,” said Fr. Lim.

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