Martin Luther’s “rehabilitation” may have to wait

March 11, 2008

Is Martin Luther, the German monk who sparked the Reformation, going to be “rehabilitated” this year by Pope Benedict? Some media say yes, the Vatican says no way. Here is an interesting sequence of events that says a lot about how something can take on a life of its own, regardless of whether it may be totally correct.
0It all appears to have started on March 2, when ApCom, an Italian news agency, ran a three paragraph article, here in Italian , merely saying that the pope and some of his former PhD students (the so-called Ratzinger- Schlerkreis), would discuss Luther during their yearly summer encounter in August at the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
APcom, said the seminar would discuss whether Luther “wanted a rupture … or intended to reform the Church but without traumas”.
On March 5, two days after the APcom report, the Turin newspaper La Stampa ran a story with the headline “Ratzinger reforms Luther. ‘He had many Catholic ideas. The theologian pope summons his students for a seminar of study on the heretic.”The article, seen here in Italian, quoted Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as saying the choice of topics was meant “to favour a climate of encounter with Protestants.”
Pope and Cardinal Kasper meet Archbishop of Canterbury The day after the article in La Stampa, the Times of London reported that “Pope BenedictXVI is set to rehabilitate Martin Luther, arguing that he did not intend to split Christianity, but only to purge the church of corrupt practices.”
From there, the story took off,was repeatedby some news organisations around the world, was the buzz on the blogs, and even prompted an editorial critical of the pope by the Financial Times, called “Papal Indulgence – Cosmetic changes cannot hide Benedict’s dogmatism”.
The Vatican itself finally weighed in on March 8, when Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, told the Italian news agency Ansa, that the Financial Times editorial was “totally without foundation because no rehabilitation of Luther is foreseen.” The Ansa story went onto say that the specific theme of this summer’s meeting had not yet been finally decided.
What do you think about how the media covered this and do you think the pope should “rehabilitate” Luther?

6 comments

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These events strike me as typical of media coverage of the Catholic Church. Reporters don’t understand the Church, what it’s for, or how it works, but they have a lot of images about it. So they base their reporting on how some suggested fact plays off their images.

In this particular case we have a mixture of the “pope as hammer of heretics” image, the “church updates itself” image, and the “loopy clergyman” image. The last is most commonly applied to Anglican clergyman, but it really applies to all of them. It’s an aspect of the “weird people doing weird things” image.

The Roman Church has been in the wrong about Luther for 500 years, so why fix things now? It would be akin to heresy for one Pope to say that another Pope had been fallible, so I don’t foresee Luther ever being “rehabilitated” by the Roman Church. The Bishops of Rome have always had too high an opinion of themselves and their own worth.

Then again, Luther didn’t need their approval then, and he certainly doesn’t need it now.

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

Luther’s words and works stand on their own merit. God is his judge now. We are either saved by God’s grace alone, or we aren’t. It is as simple as that.

Very nice work Thanks..

Saved by GRACE alone, yes, but not by faith alone — that was Luther’s error, and he freely admitted that he added the word “alone” to Romans 3:28 because “Martin Luther will have it so!” The guy was a vulgar twit who not only tossed out 7 books from the OT but wished to toss out many more (Hebrews, James…). I guess He didn’t read Philippians 2:11-13 and Eph. 2:10 among all the other teachings of JESUS on works.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

we tend to judge to much. and once again we stop here to judge. first of all i am agree with those who can not stand addicted people, but we can not just leave them to handle themselves. of course this mental disorder attacks not only the body, but also the mind(soul in the end). we should start to find what had happen, not only to stand there and blame. some people did that, drug rehab San Francisco.

Posted by mmaarya | Report as abusive