Sunday, November 20, 2016

In The News: The Pope credited Martin Luther?

I caught this recent comment from Pope Francis via CARM and the Catholic Answers forums
The temptation to “give glory to each other” and to exploit the faith for one’s own purposes is a persistent “cancer in the Church.” The Pope credited Martin Luther with rejecting “an image of the Church as an organization that can go ahead ignoring the grace of the Lord, or considering it as a possession to be taken for granted.” Returning to a theme that he had emphasized frequently in the early days of his pontificate, he said: “This temptation to build a self-referential Church, which leads to conflicts and divisions, always keeps coming back” [link].
The source for this information comes from "a lengthy interview with the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire." Here is the actual text:
Avvenire: Il patriarca Bartolomeo in un’intervista ad Avvenire disse che la radice della divisione è stata la penetrazione di un «pensiero mondano» nella Chiesa. Anche per lei è questa la causa della divisione?
Pope Francis: Continuo a pensare che il cancro nella Chiesa è il darsi gloria l’un l’altro. Se uno non sa chi è Gesù, o non lo ha mai incontrato, lo può sempre incontrare; ma se uno sta nella Chiesa, e si muove in essa perché proprio nell’ambito della Chiesa coltiva e alimenta la sua fame di dominio e affermazione di sé, ha una malattia spirituale, crede che la Chiesa sia una realtà umana autosufficiente, dove tutto si muove secondo logiche di ambizione e potere. Nella reazione di Lutero c’era anche questo: il rifiuto di un’immagine di Chiesa come un’organizzazione che poteva andare avanti facendo a meno della Grazia del Signore, o considerandola come un possesso scontato, garantito a priori. E questa tentazione di costruire una Chiesa autoreferenziale, che porta alla contrapposizione e quindi alla divisione, ritorna sempre.
How did Roman Catholics respond to this vague affirmative sentence? Here's a sample from the Catholic Answers discussion:

"I pray for the Holy Father daily. He is most sincere, and obviously wishes only the best for people. But 'crediting Martin Luther"?... Perhaps this is a bad translation of the interview (and I am more than willing to accept that), but that definitely is not going to come across well, and not just to those with a respect for the traditionalist point of view. o use the name of Martin Luther, who is regarded as the key to the whole destruction of a semi-unified Christendom... especially coming so soon after the event of October which still sits uneasily even on the most 'ecumenical' of stomachs, as an example of how to acknowledge something 'off' in the Church. . .well, the Holy Father must know what he is saying but it is very unclear and upsetting to me. I will continue to pray for enlightenment." [link]

"History and scholars have determined that Martin Luther wanted reform, and NEVER intended to start a whole new church or destroy the one he was a part of. Painting the man as evil sure discourages many fine people from returning to the faith. But, I realize this is a popular opinion." [link]

"It should also be noted that Martin Luther suffered from severe anxiety and scruples (today would almost certainly be diagnosed with OCD.) Martin Luther was most likely not seeking change and reform due to maliciousness or evil, but, rather out of fear and anxiety of "not making it to heaven" (and it was even harder "to make it" in that time period." [link]

"This is a must read for anyone who'd like to know more about Martin Luther" [link]

"I think the Church needed reformation at the time, but the split resulted from Luther and the Church not coming to terms. I've read and heard that Luther had some valid points. Why can't the Pope reference one to bring everyone closer together?" [link]

"...I personally was troubled, and have been troubled, with the emphasis on Martin Luther as an exemplar of how to approach the Church when there are troubles. Because no matter how valid some of his points may have been at the start (and neither I nor members of the Church, even from the get-go, have ever denied that there were some issues among individuals that needed a firmer hand to deal with them) --heck if you search some of my posts here I have noted more than once that if Martin Luther had worked patiently within the Church instead of giving up and attempting to impose his will not just on the real difficulties but on his own gradually increasing personal interpretations that he insisted be observed as gospel, that he would have probably become Saint Martin Luther. So in that sense he is a tragic figure, in that as usual Satan tries to take what is best and brightest, and make that fall. Henry VIII is another one --a man of great gifts, "Defender of the Church" (ironically written by him against Luther!), who likewise became intoxicated by his own admitted gifts to the point of inserting himself and his will again as 'gospel'. [link]

"We, as Catholics, are commemorating jointly with the Lutherans the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Joint services of common prayer and other commemorations will be occurring in dioceses throughout the world over the course of the next years." [link]

[in response to the previous comment] "What! That is the most stupid thing I have ever heard. I'm certainly not commemorating it. Why not make him a saint too? an inspiration for others to follow in leaving the Church and starting their own, good idea." [link]

"You would do well to inform yourself of the decisions taken by the Holy See with regard to Luther and Lutherans since 1983 and to conform yourself to what the Holy See has declared." [link]

"The pope should have an assistant that intervenes to prevent him from saying stupid things. He comes off as arrogant in the article." [link]

"A 500th year anniversary commemorating the reformation, is absolutely scandalous in the extreme for the Catholic Church to be involved in, the reformation is something the Church mourns. To 'commemorate' such a thing in the Catholic Church is wrong on so many levels." [link]

[in response to the previous comment"Let us be perfectly clear: 1) The decision of a joint commemoration of the Reformation is that of both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. 2) This decision is implemented by the Holy See. It is to be shown complete and absolute deference. 3) The bishops, dispersed throughout the world, and the conferences of bishops in their various geographical divisions have decreed what is to be done. For laity to speak of the decisions of the hierarchy at its highest levels as scandalous is nothing short of intolerable and invites censure from ecclesiastical authority. The commemoration has been implemented by the Pope and by the bishops of the world. Full stop." [link]

"Not full stop, not full stop at all. You are right, I am just a lay person with little knowledge and practically no authority to speak on such matters, but I know that it is wrong to commemorate the fracturing (reformation) of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I don't need to have authority or great knowledge to see that." [link]

"I believe some may be taking the commemoration too far, and it begins to look a bit like celebrating, especially when we see lots of praise heaped on Martin Luther. But as has been mentioned in many theological reports, he is a complex figure. I respect, for isntance, his reverence toward the Eucharist. I remember the story of how when he was celebrating Mass once towards the end of his life, he couldn't stop his hands from shaking after the consecration and spilled some of the Precious Blood on the floor of the altar. The old man got on his hands and knees and lapped up the Precious Blood with his tongue like a dog. But on the other hand, he did many things that give us bad examples of what a Christian witness should do, such as abandoning his vows of celibacy he made at his priestly ordination by marrying Katharina von Bora." [link]

"we are stuck with discussing the red herring of Martin Luther  His words of blasphemy against the sacrifice of the Mass and sacrament of marriage seem to conveniently be forgotten." [link]

"while I think we should defer to the Pope in simply commemorating (not celebrating) the Reformation this year and next by praying for unity and understanding, I don't see or understand why Catholics have to conform themselves to what the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity declared on Luther and Lutherans in 1983 or in this recent document. I don't see where that commission, comprised of both Lutherans and Catholics, is analogous to the Holy See, but I am open to correction." [link

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