Being misunderstood is part and parcel of my life. However - and this is crucial - I am not speaking of today! Contemporary knowledge of the “reformation” as it is with Catholic catechesis, is sadly and profoundly lacking. Moderns tend to assume that Luther was 100% justified - now there’s a term for you - in his radical revision of Christian thought.
Peacemakers, such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, were at first praised by the reformers, then later vilified in the most contemptible terms - for having the utter temerity of disagreeing with the increasingly egomaniacal Luther. Read a few of Luther’s comments regarding Erasmus to Nikolaus von Amsdorf! “The very mouth organ of Satan” Really? Erasmus also came under fire from within the Church, while defending the Church! Blessed are the peacemakers.
Would anyone dare to say that Martin Luther was 100% mentally stable? Even Philipp Melanchthon, in his fawning and effusive praise of Luther, takes note of Luther’s “episodes.”
Would anyone, especially historians, proffer that German politics offered no opposition to funds going to Italy for the construction of Saint Peter’s basilica?
Would anyone deny that the alliance of religion and politics in 16th century Germany had much to do with the “success” of the reformation?
Was the entire situation exacerbated by the bi-lateral polemics of the day? No doubt. But the past is the past. The Church can adopt a completely different stance - and has - but that does in no way alter history. Luther was rightly excommunicated. In return, the Pope became the antichrist - ‘officially’ believed by certain mainstream protestants to this day!
The truth is served only when proclaimed. Martin Luther, despite anything and everything the Church hierarchy did or did not do - radically modified Christian theology. It became a mirror of his personal psychology. Huldrych Zwingli and Jean Cauvin at some level bear witness to that - if not in words, then in actions taken.
The Catholic Church has the rock foundation of Saint Peter. The “reformation” has three primary emperors, none of which were wearing any clothing. Strong opinions do not a wardrobe make. To ignore this is to ignore truth. How we approach the elephant in the reformation living room is a matter of Church ecumenical practice, but it does in no way change history.
We can travel back in time to the 1970s and “You’re OK, I’m OK” as regards our current ecumenical efforts, but this is relativism - the same relativism decried by the very same Pope Benedict XVI! Can we have it both ways?