Cardinal Müller rebukes Italian bishop for calling Protestant Reformation ‘event of the Holy Spirit’; says Luther’s reform was ‘against the Holy Spirit’

Cardinal Müller rebukes Italian bishop for calling Protestant Reformation ‘event of the Holy Spirit’; says Luther’s reform was ‘against the Holy Spirit’

LifeSiteNews – ROME, October 25, 2017

Cardinal Müller rebukes Italian bishop for calling Protestant Reformation ‘event of the Holy Spirit’

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

Cardinal Gerhard Müller has rebuked the secretary-general of the Italian Episcopal Conference for claiming that the Protestant Reformation was an “event of the Holy Spirit.”

It is “unacceptable to assert that Luther’s reform ‘was an event of the Holy Spirit,’” wrote Cardinal Müller, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a recent article published in the Italian newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. (LifeSite provides a full English translation of the cardinal’s article here.)

“On the contrary, it was against the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit helps the Church to maintain her continuity through the Church’s magisterium, above all in the service of the Petrine ministry: on Peter has Jesus founded His Church (Mt 16:18), which is ‘the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth’ (1 Tim 3:15),” the cardinal wrote.

“The Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself,” added Müller.

Müller’s rebuke was directed to a verbatim quote of the secretary-general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, who spoke on the topic October 19 at the Pontifical University of the Lateran.

During his address on the topic of “the spirituality of the Reformation in ecclesial practice,” Galantino reportedly said, “The Reformation was, is, and will be in the future, an event of the Spirit,” and “The Reformation carried out by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit,” according to various Italian media.

“The Reformation corresponds to the truth expressed in the saying ‘Ecclesia semper reformanda,’” Galantino is quoted as saying. “It was the same Luther who did not make himself the cause of the Reformation, writing: ‘while I was sleeping, God was reforming the Church.’”

“Even today, the Church has need of a reformation,” said Galantino. “And even today only God can do it.”

Bishop Nunzio Galantino was appointed to the position of General Secretary of the episcopal conference in 2015 by Pope Francis himself, after having established a record of attitudes hostile to Catholic doctrine on life and family.

“My wish for the Italian Church is that it is able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favor of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality,” Galantino said in 2014, according to Crux. He also appeared to endorse communion for adulterous second “marriages” prior to that year’s Synod of Bishops, holding that “the burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”

In 2015 Galantino sought to undermine the Family Day protests against the creation of homosexual “marriage” in the country, according to reports in the Italian media.

Galantino’s recent remarks on Luther were made during an “international conference” on the Protestant Reformation held by the faculty of theology at the Pontifical Lateran University from October 18-19. The conference, called “Passion for God,” claimed to present the result of recent research into the Reformation by Biblical scholars, historians, and Catholic theologians. It was financed and supported by the National Service for the Superior Studies of Theology and Religious Sciences of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

The favorable remarks by Galantino regarding Luther and the Reformation are consonant with recent acts and statements made by Pope Francis and other officials of the Holy See expressing affinity for Luther’s work to “reform” Christianity, statements that have troubled the Catholic faithful.

In October 2016, Pope Francis traveled to Lund, Sweden, to meet with Lutherans and to launch a year-long commemoration of the anniversary of the launch of the Reformation. Included in the scheduled program was a prayer giving “thanks” to God “for the many guiding theological and spiritual insights that we have all received through the Reformation,” and added “Thanks be to you [God] 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.”

In January 2017, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity issued a joint statement with the Lutheran World Federation stating that “Catholics are now able to hear Luther’s challenge for the Church of today, recognizing him as a ‘witness to the gospel.’” In the same month, the Vatican announced that it would be issuing a commemorative postage stamp with Luther’s face on it.

Such acts have caused great consternation among Catholics, given Martin Luther’s unorthodox denial of the five of the seven sacraments, of the hierarchical nature of the Church and the authorty of the papacy, of the necessity of good works for justification, and numerous other novel doctrines contrary to Catholic dogma.

Martin Luther was excommunicated for heresy by Pope Leo X in 1521, after the same pope had condemned forty-one of his teachings several months earlier.

Cardinal Müller: Luther’s reform was ‘against the Holy Spirit’

Diane Montagna

LifeSite provides a full translation of Cardinal Muller’s article on the Protestant Reformation.

Luther’s so-called reform was not an “event of the Holy Spirit,” and we should not “change history” or “falsify what happened 500 years ago and the disastrous effect it had” for the sake “good relations,” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said.

In an article published in the Italian Catholic Journal, La Nuova Bussola, the German cardinal said of Luther’s movement: “From the point of view of the doctrine of the Church it wasn’t a reform at all but rather a revolution, that is, a total change of the foundations of the Catholic Faith.”

Cardinal Müller’s statements come five days after Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishops Conference, praised Luther at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Lateran University, saying: “The Reformation initiated by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit.”

The conference, held at the Lateran on October 18-19, was entitled: “Passion for God. Spirituality and theology of the Reform 500 years after its dawn.”

Here below LifeSite offers its readers a full English translation of Cardinal Müller’s article, with the kind permission of La Nuova Bussola.

LUTHER? NOT A REFORM BUT A REVOLUTION

by Gerhard L. Müller

There is great confusion today when we talk about Luther, and it needs to be said clearly that from the point of view of dogmatic theology, from the point of view of the doctrine of the Church, it wasn’t a reform at all but rather a revolution, that is, a total change of the foundations of the Catholic Faith.

It is not realistic to argue that [Luther’s] intention was only to fight against abuses of indulgences or the sins of the Renaissance Church. Abuses and evil actions have always existed in the Church, not only during the Renaissance, and they still exist today. We are the holy Church because of the God’s grace and the Sacraments, but all the men of the Church are sinners, they all need forgiveness, contrition, and repentance.

This distinction is very important. And in the book written by Luther in 1520, “De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae,” it is absolutely clear that Luther has left behind all of the principles of the Catholic Faith, Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, the magisterium of the Pope and the Councils, and of the episcopate. In this sense, he upended the concept of the homogeneous development of Christian doctrine as explained in the Middle Ages, even denying that a sacrament is an efficacious sign of the grace contained therein. He replaced this objective efficacy of the sacraments with a subjective faith. Here, Luther abolished five sacraments, and he also denied the Eucharist: the sacrificial character of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the real conversion of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, he called the sacrament of episcopal ordination, the sacrament of Orders, an invention of the Pope — whom he called the Antichrist — and not part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Instead, we say that the sacramental hierarchy, in communion with the successor of Peter, is an essential element of the Catholic Church, and not only a principle of a human organization.

That is why we cannot accept Luther’s reform being called a reform of the Church in a Catholic sense. Catholic reform is a renewal of faith lived in grace, in the renewal of customs, of ethics, a spiritual and moral renewal of Christians; not a new foundation, not a new Church.

It is therefore unacceptable to assert that Luther’s reform “was an event of the Holy Spirit.” On the contrary, it was against the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit helps the Church to maintain her continuity through the Church’s magisterium, above all in the service of the Petrine ministry: on Peter has Jesus founded His Church (Mt 16:18), which is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself.

We hear so many voices speaking too enthusiastically about Luther, not knowing exactly his theology, his polemics and the disastrous effect of this movement which destroyed the unity of millions of Christians with the Catholic Church. We cannot evaluate positively his good will, the lucid explanation of the shared mysteries of faith but not his statements against the Catholic Faith, especially with regard to the sacraments and hierarchical-apostolic structure of the Church.

Nor is it correct to assert that Luther initially had good intentions, meaning by this that it was the rigid attitude of the Church that pushed him down the wrong road. This is not true: Luther was intent on fighting against the selling of indulgences, but the goal was not indulgences as such, but as an element of the Sacrament of Penance.

Nor is it true that the Church refused to dialogue: Luther first had a dispute with John Eck; then the Pope sent Cardinal Gaetano as a liaison to talk to him. We can discuss the methods, but when it comes to the substance of the doctrine, it must be stated that the authority of the Church did not make mistakes. Otherwise, one must argue that, for a thousand years, the Church has taught errors regarding the faith, when we know — and this is an essential element of doctrine — that the Church can not err in the transmission of salvation in the sacraments.

One should not confuse personal mistakes and the sins of people in the Church with errors in doctrine and the sacraments. Those who do this believe that the Church is only an organization comprised of men and deny the principle that Jesus himself founded His Church and protects her in the transmission of the faith and grace in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit. His Church is not a merely human organization: it is the body of Christ, where the infallibility of the Council and the Pope exists in precisely described ways. All of the councils speak of the infallibility of the Magisterium, in setting forth the Catholic faith. Amid today’s confusion, in many people this reality has been overturned: they believe the Pope is infallible when he speaks privately, but then when the Popes throughout history have set forth the Catholic faith, they say it is fallible.

Of course, 500 years have passed. It’s not longer the time for polemics but for seeking reconciliation: but not at the expense of truth. One should not create confusion. While on the one hand we must be able to grasp the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit in these other non-Catholic Christians who have good will, and who have not personally committed this sin of separation from the Church, on the other we cannot change history, and what happened 500 years ago. It’s one thing to want to have good relations with non-Catholic Christians today, in order to bring us closer to a full communion with the Catholic hierarchy and with the acceptance of the Apostolic Tradition according to Catholic doctrine. It’s quite another thing to misunderstand or falsify what happened 500 years ago and the disastrous effect it had. An effect contrary to the will of God: “… that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me” (Jn 17:21).

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5 comments on “Cardinal Müller rebukes Italian bishop for calling Protestant Reformation ‘event of the Holy Spirit’; says Luther’s reform was ‘against the Holy Spirit’

  1. St Teresa of Avila bluntly wrote that millions of Catholics were going to end up in hell because of Luther.

    True then. Truer today.

    Especially in ecclesial circles…
    /
    Gaude Maria Virgo
    Cunctas haerases
    Sola interremisti
    /
    (Rejoice, Virgin Mary, Thou alone has destroyed all heresies.)
    /
    Tract for Devotional Mass from Epiphany until the Feast of the Presentation, “Vultum tuum.”
    1962 Ed. Missal

  2. PS: I’m not beatifying Cd. Mueller, but he has really risen to the occasion more than once recently. That is edifying, for once in only God knows how long!

    • Yep. At some point, he’ll realize it’s Bergoglio or Tradition. The JPII middle ground no longer exists. It’s 80:20 he’ll choose Bergoglio.

      • Mueller will never embrace Tradition. He is a progressive; his only credential is that he’s not as progressive as Bergoglio. He’s dared to fiddle with Eucharistic doctrine as well as that of the perpetual virginity of Our Lady.

        This guy’s actively campaigning for the papacy as the alternative to the Bergoglio wing of the Progressives. He’s supported the “death by a thousand cuts” torture of the Church (as designed by Montini, Wojtyla and Ratzinger).

        No thank you. At least Bergoglio is permitting the roaches that have been infesting and multiplying within the Church’s machinery for 50 years to come out into the open.

  3. Error and heresy are not unknown, even among some prominent Doctors of the Church at some point during their public ministry.
    /

    What matters is they confessed publicly that they blew it and repented through adjuration of their previous errancy.
    /

    Then, because God loves sincerity of heart (cf. Ps 50) He gave them the actual grace to go on to achieve great things within the Church, meriting eternal honor of inestimable value to this very moment.

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