By David Martin
Once again Pope Francis has defied Church teaching and policy to placate those who protest. Speaking to members of an Ecumenical Delegation from Finland on January 19, he said, "The intention of Martin Luther five hundred years ago was to renew the Church, not divide her."
To this end, Pope Leo X, in league with the holy cardinals, undertook to carefully deliberate the matter of Luther's "Reformation" which had ruptured the Church and led a good part of Europe away from the Faith. Under the lamp of the Holy Spirit the Holy Pontiff on June 15, 1520, issued his superlative papal bull Exsurge Domini, whereby he condemned the works, writings, and sermons of Martin Luther, on the grounds that "these errors or theses are not Catholic... and are not to be taught, as such; but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and against the true interpretation of the sacred Scriptures received from the Church."
After mercifully granting Luther the chance to recant his errors so that the Church could "receive him kindly as the prodigal son returning to the embrace of the Church," Pope Leo was left with no recourse but to excommunicate Martin Luther on January 3, 1521, seeing that the clemency extended to him had only hardened his heart and fueled his rampage to the endangerment of the flock.
Moreover, the Council of Trent convened from 1545-1563 to reinforce the Church's decree on Luther and to restate with greater force the Church's teachings in refutation of Luther's errors, so that there would remain no mistake as to the Church's position on Luther. The Council's decrees remain binding to this day.
Hence the matter of Martin Luther is a closed book. Once the Church has decreed infallibly on a given theological issue and the pope has spoken as Supreme Teacher of the Universal Church, the bishops and even the pope are not at liberty to question or reevaluate the decree. They have no recourse but to either embrace the decree, or place themselves outside of God as Luther did.
Hence this latest breach is most perfidious. For the pope to say that Luther was an instrument to "renew" the Church is to say that all the popes and bishops of the previous fifteen centuries were in error and stood in need of Luther's correction. Francis unfortunately places Luther's judgment above that of Leo X and the Council of Trent.
The pope echoed Luther's anti-church detraction when he told reporters on his flight back from Armenia last fall: "The Church was not a role model, there was corruption, there was worldliness, there was greed, and lust for power. He [Luther] protested against this."
Nay, Luther's protest was against Catholicism in its pure form, which we call Apostolic Tradition. It was Luther who was not a role model, and it was he who demonstrated corruption, worldliness, and lust for power. His blasphemy against the Mass clearly exposes his Antichrist nature. "It is indeed upon the Mass as on a rock that the whole papal system is built, with its monasteries, its bishoprics, its collegiate churches, its altars, its ministries, its doctrine, i.e., with all its guts. All these cannot fail to crumble once their sacrilegious and abominable Mass falls." (Martin Luther, Against Henry, King of England, 1522, Werke, Vol. X, p. 220.)
Luther also blasphemes the Mass and priesthood in his Abrogation of the Mass: "I am convinced that by these three arguments [which he had previously made] every pious conscience will be persuaded that this priest of the Mass and the papacy is nothing but a work of satan, and will be sufficiently warned against imagining that by these priests anything pious or good is effected."
Is Francis advocating that we do away with the Mass and priesthood to arrive at a true renewal of the Church? After all, the rejection of the Mass was at the very center of Luther's "renewal." He rejected the dogmatic teaching that the Mass is the reenactment of Christ's Sacrifice, and that the substance of bread and wine becomes the very substance of Christ's Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity during the Consecration of the Mass.
Luther's famous colloquy with the devil in 1522 is also very telling, which is documented in Abraham Woodhead's superlative book The Spirit of Martin Luther (1687). Therein is discussed Luther's "negotiations" and "conferences" with the devil. In his de Missa Privata & Sacerdotum Unctione (1533), Luther wrote of his "long experience" with Satan's "arts and practices" and of "many a sad and bitter night" spent in talks with him.
His colloquy on the Mass is particularly significant, since this is what turned Luther against the Mass, after which he would never offer Mass again. On that occasion, the devil in a "grave and strong voice" persuaded Luther that he had committed "idolatry" for fifteen years by adoring, and causing others to adore "naked bread and wine."
These same conversations with Satan are what gave birth to Luther's doctrine on justification, which the Vatican today dignifies. Through this infernal colloquy, the devil convinced Luther that we must accept our sinful lives as they are, and he instilled in him a false security about the sins we commit. Hence was born his crackpot idea that Jesus died on the cross so that we may sin freely without the fear of eternal punishment. Consider Luther’s own words:
"Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly... No sin will separate us from the Christ, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day." (From Luther’s letter to Philip Melanchthon, August 1, 1521, LW Vol. 48, pp. 281-282)
It suffices to say that Martin Luther was an enemy of Christianity who sought, not a renewal of the Church, but its abolition. It was for reason that St. Padre Pio said that Martin Luther is in Hell. https://www.gloria.tv/article/LA2mqGmucMMq2svx2SQsEG3BQ
In his contempt for divine revelation Luther rejected six books of the Bible, a betrayal which no Catholic may ever unite with. Yet in his January 19 address to the Ecumenical Delegation, Francis spoke of the "common witness to faith" shared by Lutherans and Catholics, and said that "as Christians we are no longer divided, but rather united on the journey towards full communion."
Since when? Ecclesial union can only come about by conversion. Separated brethren must renounce the Lutheran religion and convert to the Catholic religion in such a way that they unconditionally accept all of its teachings and decrees, including those of the 16th century concerning Luther.
However, before the Church can be an effective tool to convert outsiders, it must first renew itself by rejecting modernism and returning to tradition. As Christ said, "If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit." (Matthew 15:14)
Let us pray that Francis will receive the light to recognize his errant path, so that he can be an instrument to convert outsiders to the Catholic Church and not advance their separation through perfidious teachings.