Should Catholics Praise Martin Luther???

Hi guys hows it going. I was reading today about John Paul II and his dialouge with other denominations/religions and I came across an article that kind of left me confused. Now Im not sure how reliable it is, but if what if said is true, can someone explain to me what the Pope is talking about. Heres the link to the article

The article states that hes said certain things about Luther such as ‘‘contributed in a substantial way to the radical change in the ecclesiastical and secular reality in the West.’’ And other things such as ‘‘Our world still experiences his GREAT IMPACT on history.’’ and that Luther was a man of ‘‘PROFOUND religiousness’’ who was ‘‘DRIVEN by the examination of eternal salvation.’’

What are we to make of this? I think most Catholics would disagree that Luther left a “GREAT IMPACT” on the world and history. I think they would blame him and the reformation for the shattering of Christendom. So should we praise Martin Luther for what had happened?

EWTN seems to confirm the meeting. But I dont know how reliable are the statements said in the NY TIMES post.

“Great” can be a unit of measure, instead of a positive descriptor. In this light, the Pope is using a bit of sweet doublespeak.

This is an accurate assessment of what happened in 1983. Some of us quite well remember it without the need of help from The New York Times.

Actually, we have made even more progress since 1983.

You might find From Conflict to Communion a helpful document to read:

Also, the Pope will travel to Sweden to inaugurate a joint Catholic Lutheran commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this coming October 31. Joint ceremonies of Common Prayer will then be held around the world by Catholic and Lutheran clergy; they will co-preside at these events, using the ceremonial co-published by the Holy See and the Lutheran World Federation.

You may find details here:

The salient excerpt being – and please note that this is from Vatican Radio:

*(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will travel to Sweden in October for a joint ecumenical commemoration of the start of the Reformation, together with leaders of the Lutheran World Federation and representatives of other Christian Churches.

The event will take place on October 31st in the southern Swedish city of Lund where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947. While kicking off a year of events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it will also highlight the important ecumenical developments that have taken place during the past 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans.

The one-day event will include a common worship service in Lund cathedral based on a Catholic-Lutheran “Common Prayer” liturgical guide, published earlier this month by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

The commemoration in Lund follows on directly from the publication in 2013 of a joint document entitled ‘From Conflict to Communion’, which focuses on the themes of thanksgiving, repentance and commitment to common witness. While asking for forgiveness for the divisions of past centuries, it also seeks to showcase the gifts of the Reformation and celebrate the way Catholics and Lutherans around the world work together on issues of common concern.*

Im mean Im not sure. From reading the article, it sounds like he was using the word “GREAT” in an “good” or “positive” sense. Maybe he was just being kind/nice, but it doesn’t sound like he used “GREAT” to mean “EXTREME”. I could be wrong.

What is your opinion of the Holy Father doing this? Do you think this is a good thing or something not so great? I don’t think its a good thing to “Commemorate” the “Reformation”. I also don’t think there were many “gifts” of the “Reformation”.

After all the years I have been involved with this dialogue…which has been ongoing for 50 years…I think it is perfectly wonderful. I have seen the progress that has been made by both sides over the decades and I greet these developments with the greatest joy.

I myself will be co-presiding at one of the joint commemorations which will be held after the year of commemoration is inaugurated by the Holy Father. I consider that event will be one of the great high points of my priesthood, actually.

Happily, bishops all over the world will be holding these services of Common Prayer in their own dioceses to facilitate the participation of the lay faithful in these commemorations.


/…/ I would like first of all to say how deeply grateful I am that we are able to come together. I am particularly grateful to you, my dear brother, Pastor Schneider, for receiving me and for the words with which you have welcomed me /…/. You have opened your heart and openly expressed a truly shared faith, a longing for unity. And we are also glad, for I believe that this session, our meetings here, are also being celebrated as the feast of our shared faith. Moreover, I would like to express my thanks to all of you for your gift in making it possible for us to speak with one another as Christians here, in this historic place

As the Bishop of Rome, it is deeply moving for me to be meeting you here in the ancient Augustinian convent in Erfurt. As we have just heard, this is where Luther studied theology. This is where he celebrated his first Mass. Against his father’s wishes, he did not continue the study of Law, but instead he studied theology and set off on the path towards priesthood in the Order of Saint Augustine. And on this path, he was not simply concerned with this or that. What constantly exercised him was the question of God, the deep passion and driving force of his whole life’s journey. “How do I receive the grace of God?”: this question struck him in the heart and lay at the foundation of all his theological searching and inner struggle. For Luther theology was no mere academic pursuit, but the struggle for oneself, which in turn was a struggle for and with God

“How do I receive the grace of God?” The fact that this question was the driving force of his whole life never ceases to make a deep impression on me. /…/ What does the question of God mean in our lives? In our preaching? Most people today, even Christians, set out from the presupposition that God is not fundamentally interested in our sins and virtues. He knows that we are all mere flesh. And insofar as people believe in an afterlife and a divine judgement at all, nearly everyone presumes for all practical purposes that God is bound to be magnanimous and that ultimately he mercifully overlooks our small failings. The question no longer troubles us. But are they really so small, our failings? /…/ The question: what is God’s position towards me, where do I stand before God? – Luther’s burning question must once more, doubtless in a new form, become our question too, not an academic question, but a real one. In my view, this is the first summons we should attend to in our encounter with Martin Luther

Another important point: God, the one God, creator of heaven and earth, is no mere philosophical hypothesis regarding the origins of the universe. This God has a face, and he has spoken to us. He became one of us in the man Jesus Christ – who is both true God and true man. Luther’s thinking, his whole spirituality, was thoroughly Christocentric: “What promotes Christ’s cause” was for Luther the decisive hermeneutical criterion for the exegesis of sacred Scripture. This presupposes, however, that Christ is at the heart of our spirituality and that love for him, living in communion with him, is what guides our life

/…/ Could this just be an attempt to talk our way past the urgent problems that are still waiting for practical progress, for concrete results? I would respond by saying that the first and most important thing for ecumenism is that we keep in view just how much we have in common, not losing sight of it amid the pressure towards secularization – everything that makes us Christian in the first place and continues to be our gift and our task. It was the error of the Reformation period that for the most part we could only see what divided us and we failed to grasp existentially what we have in common in terms of the great deposit of sacred Scripture and the early Christian creeds. For me, the great ecumenical step forward of recent decades is that we have become aware of all this common ground, that we acknowledge it as we pray and sing together, as we make our joint commitment to the Christian ethos in our dealings with the world, as we bear common witness to the God of Jesus Christ in this world as our inalienable, shared foundation

/…/ It raises afresh the question about what has enduring validity and what can or must be changed – the question of our fundamental faith choice

The second challenge to worldwide Christianity of which I wish to speak is more profound and in our country more controversial: the secularized context of the world in which we Christians today have to live and bear witness to our faith. God is increasingly being driven out of our society, and the history of revelation that Scripture recounts to us seems locked into an ever more remote past. Are we to yield to the pressure of secularization, and become modern by watering down the faith? Naturally faith today has to be thought out afresh, and above all lived afresh, so that it is suited to the present day. Yet it is not by watering the faith down, but by living it today in its fullness that we achieve this. This is a key ecumenical task in which we have to help one another: developing a deeper and livelier faith. It is not strategy that saves us and saves Christianity, but faith – thought out and lived afresh; through such faith, Christ enters this world of ours, and with him, the living God. As the martyrs of the Nazi era brought us together and prompted that great initial ecumenical opening, so today, faith that is lived from deep within amid a secularized world is the most powerful ecumenical force that brings us together, guiding us towards unity in the one Lord. And we pray to him, asking that we may learn to live the faith anew, and that in this way we may then become one

The Pope is a diplomat as well as head of the Church. It is his duty to say things diplomatically. Not everything he says is Church teaching or infallible truth.


The Pope is not speaking diplomatically. He is teaching. Ut Unum Sint is a papal encyclical. The texts which Pope Saint John Paul II gave in his apostolic visits, that Pope Benedict gave whether at the Vatican or abroad, that Pope Francis gives – and that he will give in Sweden – are most assuredly part of the Papal Magisterium … and that is why they are published as such on the Vatican’s website. These texts are not to be minimalised…far from it.

Judgements of Rome are very different today than in ages past. As Pope Saint John Paul said so beautifully in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint, looking back upon the dark days of the past that have been left behind:
*42. It happens for example that, in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Christians of one confession no longer consider other Christians as enemies or strangers but see them as brothers and sisters. Again, the very expression separated brethren tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion — linked to the baptismal character — which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of “other Christians”, “others who have received Baptism”, and “Christians of other Communities”. The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism refers to the Communities to which these Christians belong as “Churches and Ecclesial Communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church”. This broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes. There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ. I have personally been able many times to observe this during the ecumenical celebrations which are an important part of my Apostolic Visits to various parts of the world, and also in the meetings and ecumenical celebrations which have taken place in Rome. The “universal brotherhood” of Christians has become a firm ecumenical conviction. Consigning to oblivion the excommunications of the past, Communities which were once rivals are now in many cases helping one another: places of worship are sometimes lent out; scholarships are offered for the training of ministers in the Communities most lacking in resources; approaches are made to civil authorities on behalf of other Christians who are unjustly persecuted; and the slander to which certain groups are subjected is shown to be unfounded.

In a word, Christians have been converted to a fraternal charity which embraces all Christ’s disciples. If it happens that, as a result of violent political disturbances, a certain aggressiveness or a spirit of vengeance appears, the leaders of the parties in question generally work to make the “New Law” of the spirit of charity prevail. Unfortunately, this spirit has not been able to transform every situation where brutal conflict rages. In such circumstances those committed to ecumenism are often required to make choices which are truly heroic.

It needs be reaffirmed in this regard that acknowledging our brotherhood is not the consequence of a large-hearted philanthropy or a vague family spirit. It is rooted in recognition of the oneness of Baptism and the subsequent duty to glorify God in his work. The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism expresses the hope that Baptisms will be mutually and officially recognized. This is something much more than an act of ecumenical courtesy; it constitutes a basic ecclesiological statement.

It is fitting to recall that the fundamental role of Baptism in building up the Church has been clearly brought out thanks also to multilateral dialogues.*

Thank you, Father, for all the information you have provided.

What the Popes said and did aside, I cannot find a reason to praise Luther. Maybe that is because I did not study him enough and therefore lack some vital information about him which could mitigate that decision. I am sure there were good qualities about him as a person, and if there were they were overshadowed by what he did in leaving the Church.

I remember speaking to our church group, the topic was on prayers. Ironically I found myself using Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, early founders of the Methodist Church, as an example of a woman of prayer. I thought she deserved mention, a wife and mother who home-schooled her ten living children but in all that found time to have disciplined scheduled prayers. Of course son John would become one of the great men of Christendom.

I am saying that because I do not mind to admire Christians, even if they are non-Catholics. I cannot do that for Luther.

Personally, I am glad that our Popes took those moves to reconcile with our Lutheran brethren. It is a good thing but feel that real reconciliation in unity may not happen within our lifetime. Thus it is good to have cordial and brotherly relation with them because of our commonality in Baptism. It is also very Catholic too as taught in our Catechism.

Another outreaching is to the Muslims, which the Popes also took positive steps towards them.

Luther did things like changing the number of books of the Bible.

The Church had received a lot of money and property from people who died without having families to pass the money down to.

There were secular politicians who WANTED that money.

By politicizing things, they GOT THAT MONEY.

Take a look at the dates … boring … but … Henry VIII and Luther and others all came along at “roughly” the same time period and caused huge splits iin the Church.

1483 - 1546 Luther

1491 - 1547 Henry VIII

There were spectacular wars. About one a month.

Invasions from Sweden and from Asia.

And Spain was occupied by the Muslims from AD 711 until 1492.

The Battle of Lepanto, 1571 … the world’s largest naval battle.

It was all about the money.

Do some research here on Catholic Answers … do a search for Martin Luther. Catholic Answers has published a lot of really excellent reading material.

Karl Keating’s first book was “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” … I would start with that.

Also check around at your parish. There is a course … EPIC … A journey Through Church History … by Steve Weidenkopf and Dr. Alan Schreck.

Totally false. See just about every thread about Luther here.

Well, I think he had a great impact on history. The Reformation split the Church which had a great impact, meaning a significant impact on the history of the world. That is the sense in which he used the word, IMO.

Oh boy, just what the doctor ordered.
Another Luther thread. :cool:
Do you understand how to study history from an objective standpoint? We are not fundamentalists who dismiss historical figures because they did not agree with us. YES, Luther DID have a great impact on the world and history, not all of it bad. In many ways he was a product of his time. Yet he was part of a period that brought Europe into the modern world.
There were pagans who were ‘discoverers’ and ‘creators’ of various scientific, medical, and cultural building blocks that brought us where we are today. Do we dismiss them because they bowed to idols?
Luther is a product of Western history, some bad, some good. Whether we like it or not.

History is NEVER as simple as conspiracy theories want us to think it is.

What’s with the obsession? :shrug:

PP 165 - 172 of EPIC: A Journey Through Church History.

Luther gave us “sola scriptura”.

Sola Fides,

Two sacraments: baptism and Eucharist

Denial of free will

From page 167 of EPIC.

Correction taken, and now I’m a weebit confused.

What’s next, a papal statement praising Henry VIII?


Call 1-800-376-0520

That’s Ascension Press

And ask for item ISBN: 978-1-934217-79-5

It’s the timeline of the Church.


$4.95 [on my copy]

It goes with the EPIC A Journey Through Church History

You can also go on-line and visit

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