Catholics share blame for Reformation, says top Vatican ecumenical official

Catholics share blame for Reformation, says top Vatican ecumenical official

Catholic World News – June 02, 2017

The president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity told a conference at the Catholic University of America that Catholic Church leaders bear part of the blame for the Reformation.

Speaking at a symposium marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Cardinal Kurt Koch said that if Catholic bishops had responded to Martin Luther’s calls for reform, Luther’s movement might not have split the Church.

Cardinal Koch argued that in his early campaign for reform, Luther made reasonable calls for reform. Only later did Luther attack the fundamental structure and authority of the Church. In that sense, the cardinal said, it is inaccurate to say that Luther’s posting of his famous theses marks the starting date of the Reformation. At that point, Cardinal Koch said, reforms may have kept the Church intact. So he concluded: “For the fact that the original reform of the Church became a Church-dividing reformation, the Catholic Church of the time must bear its share of the blame.”

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3 comments on “Catholics share blame for Reformation, says top Vatican ecumenical official

  1. Luther made reasonable calls for reform

    Tell it to your smug boss, Kurt. Four Cardinals recently made a reasonable call for reform. How’s that coming along?

  2. His Eminence should re-read Luther’s 95 theses (if he ever read them in the first place) to see how they do not make “reasonable calls for reform” but do “attack the fundamental structure and authority of the Church.” A summary of them from Wikipedia:

    The first thesis has become famous. It states, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” In the first few theses Luther develops the idea of repentance as the Christian’s inner struggle with sin rather than the external system of sacramental confession.[21] Theses 5–7 then state that the pope can only release people from the punishments he has administered himself or through the church’s system of penance, not the guilt of sin. The pope can only announce God’s forgiveness of the guilt of sin in his name.[22] In theses 14–29, Luther challenged common beliefs about purgatory. Theses 14–16 discuss the idea that the punishment of purgatory can be likened to the fear and despair felt by dying people.[23] In theses 17–24 he asserts that nothing can be definitively said about the spiritual state of people in purgatory. He denies that the pope has any power over people in purgatory in theses 25 and 26. In theses 27–29, he attacks the idea that as soon as payment is made, the payer’s loved one is released from purgatory. He sees it as encouraging sinful greed, and says it is impossible to be certain because only God has ultimate power in forgiving punishments in purgatory.[24]
    A giant scale holds the pope with a certificate bearing the papal seal and another man on one side being outweighed on the other side by a bearded figure handing another certificate to kneeling figures. Animal figures are receiving the pope’s certificates.
    1525 woodcut of forgiveness from Christ outweighing the pope’s indulgences
    Theses 30–34 deal with the false certainty Luther believed the indulgence preachers offered Christians. Since no one knows whether a person is truly repentant, a letter assuring a person of his forgiveness is dangerous. In theses 35 and 36, he attacks the idea that an indulgence makes repentance unnecessary. This leads to the conclusion that the truly repentant person, who alone may benefit from the indulgence, has already received the only benefit the indulgence provides. Truly repentant Christians have already, according to Luther, been forgiven of the penalty as well as the guilt of sin.[24] In theses 37 and 38, he states that indulgences are not necessary for Christians to receive all the benefits provided by Christ. Theses 39 and 40 argue that indulgences make true repentance more difficult. True repentance desires God’s punishment of sin, but indulgences teach one to avoid punishment, since that is the purpose of purchasing the indulgence.[25]
    In theses 41–47 Luther criticizes indulgences on the basis that they discourage works of mercy by those who purchase them. Here he begins to use the phrase, “Christians are to be taught…” to state how he thinks people should be instructed on the value of indulgences. They should be taught that giving to the poor is incomparably more important than buying indulgences, that buying an indulgence rather than giving to the poor invites God’s wrath, and that doing good works makes a person better while buying indulgences does not. In theses 48–52 Luther takes the side of the pope, saying that if the pope knew what was being preached in his name he would rather St. Peter’s Basilica be burned down than “built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.”[25] Theses 53–55 complain about the restrictions on preaching while the indulgence was being offered.[26]
    Luther criticizes the doctrine of the treasury of merit on which the doctrine of indulgences is based in theses 56–66. He states that everyday Christians do not understand the doctrine and are being misled. For Luther, the true treasure of the church is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This treasure tends to be hated because it makes “the first last”,[27] in the words of Matthew 19:30 and 20:16.[28] Luther uses metaphor and wordplay to describe the treasures of the gospel as nets to catch wealthy people, whereas the treasures of indulgences are nets to catch the wealth of men.[27]
    Single pamphlet page with decorative initial capital letter.
    First page of the 1517 Basel printing of the Theses as a pamphlet
    In theses 67–80, Luther discusses further the problems with the way indulgences are being preached, as he had done in the letter to Archbishop Albert. The preachers have been promoting indulgences as the greatest of the graces available from the church, but they actually only promote greed. He points out that bishops have been commanded to offer reverence to indulgence preachers who enter their jurisdiction, but bishops are also charged with protecting their people from preachers who preach contrary to the pope’s intention.[27] He then attacks the belief allegedly propagated by the preachers that the indulgence could forgive one who had violated the Virgin Mary. Luther states that indulgences cannot take away the guilt of even the lightest of venial sins. He labels several other alleged statements of the indulgence preachers as blasphemy: that Saint Peter could not have granted a greater indulgence than the current one, and that the indulgence cross with the papal arms is as worthy as the cross of Christ.[29]
    Luther lists several criticisms advanced by laypeople against indulgences in theses 81–91. He presents these as difficult objections his congregants are bringing rather than his own criticisms. How should he answer those who ask why the pope does not simply empty purgatory if it is in his power? What should he say to those who ask why anniversary masses for the dead, which were for the sake of those in purgatory, continued for those who had been redeemed by an indulgence? Luther claimed that it seemed strange to some that pious people in purgatory could be redeemed by living impious people. Luther also mentions the question of why the pope, who is very rich, requires money from poor believers to build St. Peter’s Basilica. Luther claims that ignoring these questions risks allowing people to ridicule the pope.[29] He appeals to the pope’s financial interest, saying that if the preachers limited their preaching in accordance with Luther’s positions on indulgences (which he claimed was also the pope’s position), the objections would cease to be relevant.[30] Luther closes the Theses by exhorting Christians to imitate Christ even if it brings pain and suffering. Enduring punishment and entering heaven is preferable to false security.[31]

  3. Koch has been captain of Brave New Church’s Talmudic cheerleader squad for decades.

    Every day
    In every way
    We’ll kick some Christians
    Shalom! Oy vey!

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