Another tidbit from a Roman Catholic on the CARM boards:
I also believe in history. I think the motive to stop paying those big taxes to Rome played a lot in protecting Luther in Germany. It also went a long way in his creating a religion that HE could live with. And profit from!!
Ah yes, history. Here's some comments from my old notes:
During the middle ages, political life had been focused on the Holy Roman Empire as a universal institution. To understand how nations developed, one must study the phenomenon of "Centralism," which was a widespread political trend during this time period, and previous to it. Monarchs and nobles were competing for the money of the middle class, allowing “nation states” to emerge and become prominent in Europe. Monarchs were trying to “centralize” power in their own hands in their own nations. Certain countries had already "centralized": Spain, France, and England.
Certain nations had a tough time in "centralizing." Italy for instance, had the south of the country under Spanish control. The central regions were under the Papacy. The north was divided into several states. It was worse in Germany. The Holy Roman Empire had divided her into hundreds of city-states and princely territories. Germany was a loosely associated group of territories meeting in parliamentary diets, where various leaders met to debate policies suggested by the emperor, and vote up or down his desire to raise money for troops for various policies. The Emperor’s authority in the internal affairs of Germany were very limited and restricted. The emperor was eager to centralize power, but territorial princes blocked this, and wanted power to stay in their own hands (decentralized).
The papacy had been a leader in centralization of power for Europe. They had increased power in there own hands at the expense of the national churches and the local bishops. They had achieved a “Papal monarchy” in the church. They had unlimited centralized church powers. They had an effective form of administration. They were the first to develop an international form of diplomacy of ambassadorial representatives; developed an effective form of communicating with the papacy, and they were well managed. They did though have one major problem: they had a constant problem raising money.
Pressure to raise money created corruption: The sale of church offices, and the sale of spiritual remedies (indulgences). Political infighting also caused trouble because the Papacy wanted to control more of central Italy. The popes were often seen to be as greedy and ambitious as many of the monarchs in Europe, this undermined their spiritual claims (Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, Julius II, Leo X).
The sale of indulgences at the time was simply another example of a need for funds. The papacy had quite a history of exploiting the German people for such funds. History does show Rome exploited countries like Germany for building projects. So when you say, "I think the motive to stop paying those big taxes to Rome played a lot in protecting Luther in Germany," you imply it was a bad thing, whereas, I would argue quite the opposite. German leaders protected Luther against a corrupt papacy that had been exploiting the German people. True, Luther was a means to their ends. Some of the rulers were Godly men, wanting the best for their territory, some were not Godly men. Others simply wanted more power at the expense of the German people.