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Martin Luther . . . The Man And The Myth

July 8, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 1

(Editor’s Note: As this October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Raymond de Souza is taking a break from his usual apologetics to correct the popular image of Luther.)

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Why was a statue of Martin Luther erected — of all places — in the Vatican last year?
It was to participate in the commemorations of a historic event: 500 years of the Lutheran “Reformation.” This year, Lutherans and Protestants of all denominations celebrate in Germany and elsewhere the historical beginning of their various churches.
But why the Vatican should commemorate that man’s revolt against the Catholic Church escapes my understanding.
The reality is that Christendom was never the same after Luther. Because of his “Reformation,” or, rather, Deformation, today, instead of having one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism (Eph. 4:5) in the one Church of God, the pillar and mainstay of the Truth (1 Tim. 3:15), there are thousands upon thousands of churches, denominations, sects, affiliations, missions, movements, etc.. etc., a myriad of different groups of people, each one claiming to be fully Christian. This is so even though there are visceral contradictions among their creeds and moral codes, in a total and complete doctrinal cacophony.
Yet, in spite of all of these calamities, today there is a trend to “rediscover,” as it were, the image of the man who initiated the fragmentation of Christianity, inside the very Catholic Church that he fragmented and despised so much.
I must say I was speechless as I read the news item last year in the British newspaper, the Catholic Herald, that “Pope Francis has told Lutheran pilgrims from Finland that Martin Luther’s intention 500 years ago ‘was to renew the Church, not divide Her’” (Catholic Herald, August 12, 2016).
I confess I have no idea as to where the Holy Father found any fragment of historical evidence to justify such a gratuitous statement.
So, I decided to share with my Wanderer readers a number of direct quotations from Luther’s own writings, which show his true face, that of a man who was deeply proud, lustful, arrogant, and at times a blasphemer, who entered history as a true heresiarch.
Whenever I discuss Luther with Lutherans, I always suggest to them to read his own writings, and, if they do, they will become Catholic. No one in his right mind would follow Luther, especially not women. Luther’s view of the female gender was not too different from the Muslim view, as we shall see in due course.
But the Holy Father is not alone in his praise of Luther: The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity stated that after 50 years of dialogue, “Catholics are now able to hear Luther’s challenge for the Church of today, recognizing him as a ‘witness to the Gospel’” (Catholic Herald, January 19, 2017).
Germany’s Catholic bishops praised Luther as a “Gospel witness and teacher of the faith” in a document released last year and called for closer ties with Protestants.
They described Luther as “a religious pathfinder, Gospel witness, and teacher of the faith,” whose “concern for renewal in repentance and conversion” had not received an “adequate hearing” in Rome (Catholic Herald, August 12, 2016). I have no words to describe the level of idiocy of such bland statements.
So, the myth about Luther’s alleged “goodness” is being revived, even in very unexpected places. But this myth is an idol with clay feet. It’s time to grab an iron mallet and smash those feet in order to see the idol crash and crumble to the ground.
Wanderer readers are invited to read this column in the next few weeks to learn the truth about Luther.
Remember Pope John Paul II’s exhortation to the university students in Rome in 1981: “You must learn to think, speak, and act in accordance to the evangelical simplicity and clarity: Yes, yes. No, no. Learn to call black, black; and white, white. To call good, good; and evil, evil. To call sin, sin, and not to call it ‘liberation’ or ‘progress,’ even if fashion and propaganda are against this teaching.”
After Luther’s vast and abundant library, the best and most accessible source of knowledge about his doctrines is the excellent book titled Luther, published by an eminent French historian, Frantz Funck-Brentano, a member of the Academy of Ethics and Political Science of the Institut de France. He was also totally unsuspected of being biased against Luther, since Funck-Brentano was a Protestant himself. I will quote from his masterpiece (Luther, Paris, Grasset: 1934).
Let us begin with Luther’s untrammeled hatred of the Catholic Church: He wrote to his friend Melanchthon regarding the bloody persecutions of Henry VIII against the Catholics of England: “It is lawful to be wrathful when one knows what kind of traitors, thieves, and murderers the popes, their cardinals, and legates are. Would to God that many kings of England dedicate themselves to putting an end to them” (Funck-Brentano, Luther, p. 254).
For this very same reason, he also exclaimed: “Enough of words: Fire and sword!” And he added: “We punish thieves with the sword. Why should we not seize the pope, the cardinals, and the whole gang of the Roman Sodom and wash our hands in their blood?” (ibid., p. 104).
In a pamphlet titled “Against the Roman Pontificate Founded by the Devil,” March 1545, he called the Pope not “Holiness,” according to the custom, but “Most Infernal” and added that the papacy had always shown itself to be bloodthirsty (ibid., pp. 337-338).
Luther’s hatred accompanied him to the end of his life. Funck-Brentano affirms: “His last public sermon in Wittenberg was on January 17, 1546 — a last cry of malediction against the Pope, the Sacrifice of the Mass, devotion to the Virgin” (ibid., p. 340).
It is no shock that great persecutors of the Church have celebrated his memory. Thus “Hitler ordered that October 31 be made a national holiday in Germany, commemorating the day in 1517 that the rebellious Augustinian friar fixed his famous 95 theses against pontifical supremacy and doctrines on the doors of the church of the castle of Wittenberg” (ibid., p. 272).
In spite of all the official atheism of the East German Communist regime, Dr. Erich Honecker, president of the Council of State and the Council of Defense, and the top man in the German Democratic Republic (a puppet of Moscow), agreed to head the committee that organized the 1982 commemorations of Luther in Communist Germany (German Comments, Osnabrueck, West Germany, April 1983).
There is no basis whatsoever for justifying the “rediscovery” of the heresiarch Luther that is taking place today, both inside and outside of the Catholic Church. Pope Leo X was right to excommunicate him in 1521.
Therefore, when the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity stated that “Catholics are now able to hear Luther’s challenge for the Church of today, recognizing him as a ‘witness to the Gospel’,” and the German Catholic bishops praised Luther as a “Gospel witness and teacher of the faith,” they were talking absolute nonsense, to put it charitably.
Next article: Luther’s blasphemies.

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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