Martin Luther to Pope Leo X



I’ve been reading Martin Luther’s letter to Pope Leo X that is titled, “An Open Letter to Pope Leo X” in the year 1520. I’m wondering if anybody knows if Pope Leo ever wrote a response to Luther, and if so, if they could provide me a link–or let me know where the letter is, so I can read it?




Can you please post (link to) Luther’s letter.



I think this is the letter, but I heard it was never sent even though Luther meant what he wrote:

“I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity. . . . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. St, Peter and St. Paul, forty-six Popes, some hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have laid down their lives in its communion, having overcome Hell and the world; so that the eyes of God rest on the Roman church with special favor. Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. We must not separate from God on account of any work of the devil, nor cease to have fellowship with the children of God who are still abiding in the pale of Rome on account of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body. For love can do all things, and nothing is difficult to those who are united". - Martin Luther to Pope Leo X, January 6, 1519 (more than a year after the Ninety-Five Theses quoted in The Facts about Luther, 35)


IF this is an actual letter (with Luther in a reasonably good mood), I would guess that the Pope hadnt issued Exurge Domine yet where the Pope blasted multiple issues related to Luther’s heretical ideas.


No, that is not the letter. The letter in question is one year later. I have the link to the letter, but it is missing Luther’s greeting to the pope. Anyway, here you go:


No one knows if the pope responded. It appears that something, in the interim, upset the apple cart. All of his responses seem similar to this:

Pope Leo X issues bull of excommunication against Luther. It is entitled Exsurge Domine (“Arise, Lord, and defend thine own vineyard against the wild beast that is devouring it.”) Luther has 60 days to recant.


See this link: Luther’s Imaginary Letter to Pope Leo X, January 6, 1519

I wrote this a few years back. I still stand by my conclusions about the quote in question. Father O’Hare’s book is filled with a lot of error.


James Swan


I think he may be referring to this other letter, signed 6th September, 1520.

I find this part interesting:

I will challenge no one; in return I wish not to be challenged; but, being challenged, I will not be dumb in the cause of Christ, my Master. For your Blessedness will be able by one short and easy word to call these controversies before you and suppress them, and to impose silence and peace on both sides——a word which I have ever longed to hear.

I do not understand how this fits his burning the papal bull in public two months later.


The Pope’s response was the Bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, excommunicating Luther. Now whether the Pope actually read Luther’s letter I don’t know.



I don’t think that was the Pope’s response to the letter. The Pope had issued a previous Papal Bull, letting Luther and others know that if they did not retract from the heretical doctrines, they would be subject to excommunication. After the predefined time - 60 days - the new Bull announced the excommunication.

Also Luther did openly call for an excommunication when he publicly burned the previous papal bull, after sending the above-mentioned letter.


Fr. O’Hare’s books compiles a very accurate picture of Martin Luther, using Luther’s own writings. The problem is that those who defend Luther today are defending the myth about Luther, not the reality of Luther. But archeological studies of Luther’s household paint a much different picture than the myth portrayed in books, movies, and silly blogs. The problem with Luther’s defenders is that they’ve become very adroit in spinning up all kinds of rationalizations in order to defend the Father of Protestantism at all costs…


None of the actual archeological evidence mentioned in the article is surprising, though the details are interesting. Much of the article consists of speculation and innuendo (it’s certainly possible that Luther was fleeing marriage when he entered the convent, and of course you take his later accounts with many pinches of salt, but the article doesn’t actually produce any evidence that his father had a marriage planned).

You can take Luther’s writings out of context very easily, and Fr. O’Hare seems to have done this, given what people who rely on him say (I haven’t read the book myself).

There is a polemical, negative myth of Luther as well as a hagiographic, positive one. Critical historians avoid both.

To borrow a metaphor from Luther himself, why act like a drunk peasant who climbs into the saddle on one side only to fall off on the other?



I didn’t mean that the letter necessarily caused the excommunication, but that the excommunication followed the letter. Sure, it might have happened anyway. But the letter certainly didn’t stave it off (I doubt Luther expected it to–by this point I suspect anything he said “to” the Pope was really written for other eyes, and indeed that was probably the case with his 1518 letter as well). In that sense the excommunication was a response, saying basically, “Sorry, Martin, but this doesn’t cut it.”



I would suggest you read the book.

Luther was an arrogant nincompoop, not a messenger from God. He also seemed to have an obsession with farts and poop in his diatribes against anyone who dared criticize him.

"I can with good conscience consider him [the pope] a fart-** and an enemy of God. He cannot consider me an ***, for he knows that I…am more learned in the Scriptures than he and all his asses are.”–Martin Luther *


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