Luther-Bashing is Anti-Catholic


Catholics during the Medieval period shared an intense anti-Semitism. One of the greatest, Peter the Venerable considered Jews as no better than animals. In fact Jews are not just animals but beasts of burden. In A Tract Against The Inveterate Hardness of the Jews, arguing for the divinity of Christ, he repeats the point over and over: Here he is addressing a Jew:

It seems to me, Jew, that I … judge in these matters … as do all men. And if all men, then you also - if, nevertheless, you are human. For I dare not declare that you are human lest perchance I lie, because I recognize that reason, that which distinguishes humans from … beasts, is extinct in you or in any case buried… Truly, why are you not called brute animals? Why not beasts? Why not beasts of burden? … The ass hears but does not understand; the Jew hears but does not understand. Am I the first to say this? Has not the same been said many centuries before [by your prophet]? … And although it is fully proved by these sacred authorities that you are a domestic animal or beast … and it has been sufficiently shown by me, nevertheless yet a fifth chapter will be added that shall expose, not only to Christians but to all the lands of the world, that you are truly a beast of burden and that, when I affirm this, I in no way exceed the bounds of truth.

Granted, he is not calling for killing them, but this theme of disrespect was rampant. Jews were killed as well as Muslims during the Crusades because they were considered to be “Christ killers”.

The phrase perfidious Jews has only recently been removed from the liturgy.

This article:

does not make the Catholic Church responsible for the Antisemitism in Europe before and at Luther’s time, but the CC was the primary guiding influence. It was expected that everyone would be Catholic, including the rulers of the countries in which this anti-semitic culture existed.

I am not trying to excuse Luther’s over the top writing about this, but I am saying he was steeped in an anti-semetic culture that existed all over Europe. This culture existed within, and was nurtured by the Catholic Church.


Pope Benedict spoke of the failure of the Roman Catholic Church in the past when he wrote to the world’s bishops in 2007

Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today


The topic title seems a bit counter-intuitive… Luther is Anti-Catholic, or was, and so opposing him would be Catholic, not Anti-Catholic? Don’t they cancel eachother out? Bashing the Anti-Catholic is Anti-Catholic?

I’m not for physical bashing, or telling untruths, but we still haven’t defined bashing on this thread. If we mean opposing him and his heresy, I don’t think that’s so bad.


Pope John Paul II, visit to the Synagogue of Rome on April 13, 1986.


[A] consideration of centuries-long cultural conditioning could not prevent us from recognizing that the acts of discrimination, unjustified limitation of religious freedom, oppression, also on the level of civil freedom, in regard to the Jews were, from an objective point of view, gravely deplorable manifestations. Yes, once again, through myself, the church, in the words of the well-known declaration ‘‘Nostra Aetate,’’ ‘‘deplores the hatred, persecutions, and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and by anyone.’’ I repeat, ''By anyone."

I would like once more to express a word of abhorrence for the genocide decreed against the Jewish people during the last war, which led to the holocaust of millions of innocent victims.


Furthermore, it is necessary to say that the path undertaken is still at the beginning and, therefore, a considerable amount of time will still be needed, notwithstanding the great efforts already made on both sides, to remove all forms of prejudice, even subtle ones, to readjust every manner of self-expression and, therefore, to present always and everywhere, to ourselves and to others, the true face of the Jews and of Judaism as likewise of Christians and of Christianity and this at every level of outlook, teaching and communication.

In this regard, I would like to remind my brothers and sisters of the Catholic Church, also those living in Rome, of the fact that the guidelines for implementing the Council in this precise field are already available to everyone in the two documents published respectively in 1974 and 1985 by the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism. It is only a question of studying them carefully, of immersing oneself in their teachings and of putting them into practice.


All that remains for me now, as at the beginning of my address, is to turn my eyes and my mind to the Lord, to thank him and praise him for this joyful meeting and for the good things which are already flowing from it, for the rediscovered brotherhood and for the new and more profound understanding between us here in Rome and between the church and Judaism everywhere, in every country, for the benefit of all.



How about the Catholic Encyclopedia?

“The early Roman pontiffs of the sixteenth century had Jewish physicians and were favorable to the Jews and the Maranos of their states. Time soon came, however, when the Sephardic Jews of Italy fared differently. As early as 1532, the accusation of child murder nearly entailed the extermination of the Jews of Rome. In 1555, Paul IV revived the ancient canons against the Jews which forbade them the practice of medicine, the pursuit of high commerce, and the ownership of real estate. He also consigned them to a Ghetto, and compelled them to wear a Jew badge. In 1569, Pius IV expelled all the Jews from the Pontifical States, except Rome and Ancona. Sixtus V (1585-1590) recalled them; but, soon after him, Clement VIII (1592-1605) banished them again partially, at the very moment when the Maranos of Italy lost their last place of refuge in Ferrara. Similar misfortunes befell the Jewish race in other states of Italy as the Spanish domination extended there: Naples banished the Jews in 1541; Genoa, in 1550; Milan, in 1597. Hence-forward, most Sephardic fugitives simply passed through Italy when on their way to the Turkish Empire.”

Certainly Luther’s comments about the Jews were terrible, but they are not the deciding factor in his theology. Good Catholic scholarship typically interacts with Luther’s theology rather than attacking Luther the person, because the story of Luther’s negativity towards the Jews is really to tell the story of medieval Christianity and medieval society’s negativity towards the Jews.



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Previous to Luther there were atrocities like The Strasbourg massacre (1349). Those Jews agreeing to be baptized were spared being burned alive. Even after Luther, Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) was involved in some fairly serious Jewish persecution:

“In 1553 all copies of the Talmud found in Rome were burned in public. Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) ordered measures to be taken against the Jews, and twenty-four men and one woman were burned at the stake. On July 12, 1555, he issued a bull that renewed all the oppressive medieval legislation against the Jews, excluding them from professions, limiting their financial and commercial activities, forbidding them to own real estate, and humiliating them by obliging them to wear yellow hats” [Lewis W. Spitz, The Protestant Reformation (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1985), 357].

Owen Chadwick likewise documents this: “He forced every Jew to wear a yellow hat and live in a ghetto with only one exit… He caused to be published the first Index of prohibited books… Sixtus of Siena was sent to Cremona, where there was a great Hebrew school (for the destruction of the Talmud was ordered), and reported that he had burnt a store of 12,000 volumes…. Under an Inquisition with extended powers, and a pope ready to suspect everyone, there was almost a reign of terror in the city. ‘Even if my own father were a heretic,’ said the Pope, ‘I would gather the wood to burn him’” [Owen Chadwick, The Reformation (New York: Penguin Books, 1964), 271].

I have friends who argue against Catholicism because of the crusades, pedophilia, a nun hitting someone in grammar school, or any number of sins committed by people who adhere to Catholicism. In my thinking, this is one of the worst ways to argue. In the same way, those Catholics who argue against Protestantism attempting to vilify Luther have no way to consistently argue for their position positively. If the hierarchy of the Catholic church has done something wrong or sinful at any point in her past, then by their standard applied to Luther, the Catholic church is invalid… It works both ways.


It is possible to oppose errors without disparaging the persons who cling to them.

As it turns out, the thread itself is an amazing example of Luther Bashing! Though the OP was focused on love, acceptance, ecumenism, and moving forward, the thread took the inevitable Catholic turn into focusing on Luther’s personal shortcomings and bad behavior, even those that Lutherans don’t espouse.


That’s a good point. Luther did not hold back on those he perceived as enemies. However, there is a tendency some have to ignore that in terms of percentage his " disdainful and cynical" language does not make up the bulk of his writing. Coupled with that some will try to make him worse than he was.


It is very hard for us, looking back, to appreciate what it might have been like to be in these persons shoes, or in the milieu. It is easy for us to be judgmental from a 20/20 hindsight. I might well have been Lutheran had I lived near all these events! There is no way any of the participants in these historical events could possibly understand or anticipate the outcomes of their actions.


@guanophore, I appreciate your viewpoint.

This thread has not gone as well as I had hoped, but it has gone as I expected, regrettably.

I think the damage the Medici popes did in singling Luther out as an example, lest others follow, is still with us, and the lies spread at that time still bear fruit today. They did incalculable damage to the church, and those of us on other side of the Tiber need to work towards reconciliation, not accusation.

We had 450 years of attempted reconciliation via insult and accusation. It did not work. The Catholic Church has figured that out. I am reminded of the quote that “Insanity is trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different result”. Your popes - plural there - popes since Vatican 2 have set an example of ecumenical conduct that it is reasonable to expect laity to follow.

It is absolute folly, on top of that, to attempt to bring Lutherans back to the Catholic Church by sliming Luther. They consider him “simultaneously saint and sinner” and give thanks that such a great sinner could also do saintly things. It makes the accuser one with “the accuser of the brethren”. It makes whoever is doing the bashing, in short, to look like an idiot and does no good, absolutely no good, at all, for anyone. It it on the verge of scandal because the Catholic Church has shown another approach. To slam Luther for refusing to follow the popes, while refusing to follow the popes in the indicated ecumenical approach, is hypocritical.


I am having difficulty with the idea that you are not advocating the burning of heretics here. Is that what you mean by a non-squishy approach to ecumenism?

And do you support the letter that Don Ruggero quoted?


Note: my post you responded to, are quotes from scripture all properly referenced. IOW, It didn’t come from me.


So you think the church should torture and burn heretics.


Where did the quotes I used, say the Church should burn heretics?


I am asking you a direct question.


You’re accusing without evidence.


Hardly. Your provided statements. I am inferring something and I am asking you a question to clarify. You could say “yes” or “no”.

The fact that you refuse to answer tells me that you are in favor of the church torturing and killing heretics.

You have a bad habit of dodging answers.


As John Calvin taught us when he burned Servetus, we shouldn’t burn anyone. It’s a bad thing to do.


You accused me without evidence Luther-Bashing is Anti-Catholic


Simply not true. Why don’t you simply say you don’t believe heretics should be tortured and burned?

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