Will Luther’s Excommunication be Lifted? No, But…
There are those who have thought that the excommunication which the Papacy issued against Martin Luther when he was alive might be lifted in the present ecumenical climate. But Romish cardinal, Kurt Koch, squashed that idea when he said, “The Catholic Church cannot lift the excommunication because it’s just finished by the death of a person.” Ah, but (how often there is a “but” in Rome’s ecumenical language!):
“But on the other side,” this clever cardinal went on, “is what we can say about Luther, and here we have many beautiful things that the popes have said”. There was a time when Rome would have said nothing good about Luther. But different times demand a different approach. And so, popes and prelates have trained the muscles of their faces to smile and their lips to utter a few “nice” things about Luther through their clenched teeth. It must almost kill them to do it, but the prize is worth the lie to them. And the prize is nothing less than the eventual absorption of world Lutheranism into the Papacy.
And so it was that Koch managed to squeeze out the following, as his papal masters had done in recent times: “But on the other side is what we can say about Luther, and here we have many beautiful things that the popes have said…. the words of John Paul II on his visit in Germany, in Mainz, he said that we can learn many things from Luther. Then we have the beautiful speech of Pope Benedict in Erfurt, where he said the greatest concern of Luther was the question of God, the centrality of the question of God and the Christocentrism are the key concerns in the life and work of Luther and Pope Benedict recognised this very well. This is, for me, more important – what we can say about Luther and what we can learn from the theology and concerns of Luther.”
He was lying through his teeth, of course. No Roman Catholic official has any intention of learning anything from Luther. Not now, not ever. For them, Luther was and remains a heretic, justly excommunicated by the pope at the time, a troublecauser, a one-man pestilence upon the Papacy, a “wild boar” that had “invaded the Lord’s vineyard” (as the pope said of him in a papal bull at the time), a man whom the Papacy tried to murder, a devil in human form. By triggering the Reformation in 1517, in the eyes of the Vatican he became responsible for the past five centuries during which the Papacy’s power was greatly weakened. No, to say that Roman Catholics would now seek to learn from Luther’s theology and concerns was a very big, very deliberate lie. Just as popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis I (quoted above) were spouting lies when they said certain “nice” things about Luther. There was only one reason for these statements: honey catches more flies than vinegar, as the proverb goes.
It is also called “buttering up”. And it works.
Francis I and Swedish Lutheran archbishop, Antje Jackelén
Francis’ Address at the Next Ecumenical Event
The Roman pope ended his homily in the Lutheran cathedral of Lund, Sweden, by again calling for “unity”. But that was not the end of the festivities in Sweden. Off he went to an arena in Malmö, Sweden, where he gave an address at another ecumenical event. Let us look at what he said there, as well:
“Dear brothers and sisters, I thank God for this joint commemoration of the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.” Of course he was thrilled: although the Reformation had been such a massive break with Rome, and such a weakening of Papal power, yet now the foolish heirs of the Reformation had invited him to a joint commemoration of that event! History is being revised and rewritten before our eyes, when a pope of Rome can “thank God” for such a thing! Clearly, the rift has healed. The divide has been spanned by a bridge that leads all the way into the Vatican.
“We remember this anniversary with a renewed spirit and in the recognition that Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us.” That last statement speaks volumes! “Much more unites us than separates us.” If any true Christian church was told such a thing by the pope of Rome, its members would wonder what they had done wrong to cause him to say such a thing about them! “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). But the Lutherans were not troubled by his statement at all. Instead, they gloried in it! Their own founder separated from Rome, and he was not even sound in the faith; but five centuries later his denomination has moved so much further into error than ever, that the pope of Rome could say that much more unites Lutherans to Papists than divides them, and not a Lutheran voice was raised in protest at such a statement!
For they know it is true.
“Our dialogue has helped us to grow in mutual understanding; it has fostered reciprocal trust and confirmed our desire to advance towards full communion.” Yes, that is the end goal: full communion. But when and if such is ever achieved – and at the rate things are going, it could be just around the corner – it will all be in Rome’s favour. Lutheranism will be very much the junior player, if it is a player at all. Such communion will all be on Rome’s terms, and for Rome’s benefit. It will be all-powerful.