Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
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As with Greek Orthodoxy, so with Protestantism--there is no such thing in reality as the Protestant Church. Protestantism is a generic name covering many different sects which agree in protesting against the claims of the Catholic Church.
The Rev. Dr. Goudge, a Protestant, and Regius professor of Divinity at Oxford, writes, "The number of meanings given to the word Protestant is astonishing, as the great Oxford dictionary will show us. It suggests a person whose main interest is opposition to Rome, and possibly there may be such persons. The best use of the word today may be the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox use, in which a Protestant means a Western Christian who remains outside the Roman Church."
I deny that what Protestants think to be the erroneous doctrines of Rome are really erroneous, if indeed they be the teachings of the Catholic Church. I add that last condition because many doctrines are attributed to Rome which Rome has never taught. In this case, Protestants simply do not understand the religion they attack. It must be noted, too, that Protestants are anything but agreed amongst themselves as to what should be condemned in Catholic teaching. What one Protestant condemns, another Protestant will vehemently defend.
That is a modern interpretation of the word which departs from the historical sense.
Those words refer to the ill will of the Jews who would not listen to the prophets sent by God to protest against their evil practices. They have no reference to the meaning of the word Protestant as applied to the Reformation. It is a dreadful anachronism to connect a word used in a fourth century translation of the Old Testament with a Protestantism which arose only in the sixteenth century. No one could lay that St. Jerome had the Protestant Reformation in mind when he translated theOld Testament into Latin so many centuries earlier.
That is correct. Here, of course, we approach the real problem. It is the historic meaning of the word according to the events of the period when it arose that really counts, not possible meanings of the word in more remote ages.
So spoke the German princes. But what did the Decree demand? These princes had taken advantage of the religious revolt of Luther to secure the political independence of their States. Naturally, in turn, they supported Lutheranism as a great force amongst their people for the breaking of old ties; and they commenced the suppression of Catholic worship in their domains. Now the Decree of the Diet of Spires granted religious liberty to such as had already embraced Lutheranism in the States of the German princes, but demanded toleration for Catholics dwelling within their boundaries. The Lutheran princes protested that they would not grant toleration to Catholics, and said that the religion of their people must be the same as that of their princes. "Cuius regio, illius religio," said these princes. "Whoever is the ruler, his must be the religion." In other words, the German princes demanded the right to impose whatever religion they might please upon their subjects. And their protest was against any obligation to tolerate Catholics. The word Protestant, therefore, according to its historical and religious meaning, was born of a denial of freedom of conscience; and those who thus protested against liberty of worship for Catholics were termed Protestants.