Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
Undoubtedly. But there was no need for what is popularly called "The Reformation." Any abuses amongst the members of the Church will always cry out urgently for reform. But Protestantism was not a movement of real reform. It made prevalent abuses an excuse to abandon the Church altogether, instead of remaining with it, and trying to effect the conversion of its lax members to better ways. Moreover, Protestantism retained many of the very abuses, and merely sought to justify them by denying that they were wrong. That the Catholic Church will never do. She may have to admit sadly that her children sin; but she will never say that what is sin, is not sin, as did many of the Reformers.
Not with well-instructed and sincere Catholics who are genuinely trying to live up to their religion. Ignorant and careless Catholics would be quite likely to fall away, above all when a less-exacting religion was proposed to them, and if the civil power were employed on behalf of the would-be Reformers. Mexico, Germany, Russia, and Austria, are proof enough of that in recent times. Where good Catholics have made an heroic stand, and even died for their faith, careless Catholics have fallen away. History contains many useful lessons for all Catholics. The Catholic Church cannot fail. But its members can and do fail. And their greatest safeguards against doing so are a thorough knowledge of their religion, and a life of virtue in accordance with its teachings. Sound education, integrity of character, and a genuine effort to live a life of Christian holiness--and that on the part of both clergy and laity--are necessary for the growth and well-being of the Catholic Church in whatever country it may be established. Catholics can look back with unwavering faith at past ages; but they would be very foolish if they did not profit by the vision of the nemesis that overtook Catholics in those past ages.
The multitudes swept from the Catholic Church by Protestantism certainly brought home to her leaders the urgent need for real reform; and that real reform was effected by the Council of Trent. The severe legislation and disciplinary decrees of that Council eradicated the pronounced abuses which gave occasion to the Protestant landslide from the Church; and there has been no such movement since. Protestantism spent its force, so far as the Catholic Church is concerned, in the first years of revolt; and it has not been any real danger to the faith of Catholics since. The notable tendency today is for Protestants to become Catholics; not for Catholics to become Protestants.
Luther we cannot respect. He had no right to leave the Catholic Church, and commence a Church of his own under the pretense of reform. He should have remained in the true Church and labored to reform lax Catholics within it. You wash a plate that needs cleansing; you do not smash it. As a matter of fact, in 1521, the worldly-minded Pope Leo X died, and was succeeded by the German Pope Adrian VI. Adrian was just such a Pope as Luther pretended to demand. He was austere and holy, and at once set to work to reform the members of the Church, beginning with the Cardinals themselves, and battling against Italian laxity. The brave old Pope would have been vastly aided by German support, and the closing of the Northern Schism. But Luther made no effort to help a true reformer set in the very See whence reform ought to have come. Instead of rushing to the aid of a compatriot who was just such a head of the Church as he had declared necessary, he continued to pour forth abuse against the Pope as if he were the devil. Blind passion, and not reason, was Luther's guide. Adrian VI died broken-hearted, and the real Counter-Reformation came with the Council of Trent nearly twenty years later. The widespread chaos compelled action then; but reform was due to the innate power of the living Catholic Church to renew her own vitality.