Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
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He gave many excuses, but no real reasons. Before he left the Church, he was a member of a religious order, vowed for the love of Christ to poverty, chastity, and obedience. He broke all three vows. Vices, whether intellectual or moral, are excuses, not reasons, for leaving the Church.
He had a certain natural courage. But that was no more a virtue than the courage often found in evil-doers. I do not maintain that merely human courage is the monopoly of good Christian men. However, I deny that Luther was following his sincere convictions. Rather he followed his passions.
Luther knew that it was certainly contrary to his duty to God to violate the solemn vows he had made to God, and still more so, to take a Nun from her Convent as his wife. As for love of God, Jesus invited His Apostles to love Him so much as to leave aside all attachment to father, mother, wife, or children, in order the more closely to follow Him. He blessed marriage for such as are called to that state. But He Himself did not marry, nor did His Apostles after they were called to the ministry.
The only lawful sense of such a saying is, "Happy is he whose conduct never goes against what a right conscience allows." With Luther it meant, "Happy is he whose conscience is twisted and distorted until it allows whatever one wishes to do." If a Catholic Priest to day did what Luther did then, the Protestant world would hold up its hands in horror, and the newspapers would broadcast it as yet another scandal in the Catholic Church. Picture the heading, "Priest runs away with Nun!" Yet you pretend that it is edifying in Luther. No one who has an elementary knowledge of the life of Christ and of that of Luther could possibly reconcile them. The majority of those who glorify Luther know little or nothing about him save his name. They believe in a legendary Luther, accepting it on trust that he tried to follow the pure Gospel. Sincere Protestants to-day do wish to follow Christ, but the more they do so, the less like Luther they become.
Intellectually, not much. He declared that reason was of the devil, and that the Christian must regard it as his greatest enemy. Morally, less still. St. Paul says that those who are Christ's have crucified their flesh with its vices and concupiscences. Gal. V., 24. That Luther indulged his vices and concupiscences is clear from his writings, where he gives disgraceful descriptions of his own indulgence in everything passionate. His diaries record shocking excesses of sensuality, which could not be printed in any decent book to-day. A true Apostle of Christ does not give vent to such expressions as, "To be continent and chaste is not in me," or, "Why do I sit soaked in wine." I do not say these things merely to detract from the memory of Luther. But it is not right that people should be duped by the thought that Luther was a well-balanced and saintly reformer. He was not entirely devoid of good qualities. He was endowed with a certain kindness and generosity. But this does not compensate for his vices. He should have controlled his sentimentality and emotional nature in the light of Christian principles. He did not, but gave free rein to his lower passions, calmly saying that a man has to do so, and will not be responsible for such conduct.
Under Catholic auspices. It was convened by Charles V., a Catholic sovereign, chiefly to secure temporal peace. In 1517 Luther had broken into open revolt against the Catholic Church, preaching new and heretical doctrines. Charles V. became Emperor in 1520. Many German states, anxious to revolt politically against Charles, followed the new religious revolt of Luther. Chaos reigned in Germany. The Emperor was anxious for political peace; the Pope was anxious to stop the corruption of Catholicism by the preaching of these new doctrines. Charles, therefore, called a Diet or general assembly of all the lesser German princes at Spires in 1529. Pope Clement VII. urged Charles to take up the cause of the Catholic religion at the same time, and in reference to religion, the Diet made three main propositions. The celebration of Mass was to be permitted in those states where Protestants had forbidden it. The reformers were to be free to practice their new religion in those states where it had already been accepted, but it was not to be propagated beyond those states. No sect which denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist could be tolerated. The vast majority of Protestants at the Diet approved these laws, but the evangelical minority, whilst accepting the third law, refused to permit Mass, and to refrain from preaching Protestantism to still Catholic peoples. They formally protested that the religion of the people in a given place must be the religion of the temporal ruler of the country, and it is from this protest at the Diet of Spires in 1529 that the word Protestant is derived. It was a protest against freedom of conscience, and against the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church, as well as against the temporal authority of Charles V.
It did, but rather for evil than for good. It led to dire results and the wrecking of the Catholic faith in many unthinking people. I am speaking, of course, of those delegates at the Diet who protested against its decisions, and am dealing with religious thought. Scientific thought would have gone on in any case. It is not to Protestantism that we owe the scientific and mechanical progress of modern times. That would have come just the same. But in religion Protestantism has given us only chaos, dreary contradictions, and several millions of would-be infallible individual authorities on religious questions. It was a regression from the authority of God to that of erratic man. And where Protestantism began by pretending to defend the rights of the Bible, it has ended by practically declaring the Bible to be worthless.