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Theo 273 B








The Basic Question:


1. The Traditional Thesis:



2. Protestant Position:


3. Marxist Reading:




The Contemporary Consensus:





A. Preliminary Outline: Religious and Other Causes


B. Religious Causes


1. The Conflicts between Boniface VII and Philip the Fair36

2. The Avignon Papacy (“The Babylonian Captivity of the Church”)





Three important aspects of this Avignon Period:


1. The pope, as the chaplain of the French king


2. in second place


3. The aversion to the growing fiscalism / the Avignon papacy44


The Great Western Schism; Conciliarism


a. The return to Rome: election of Urban VI


b. The beginning of the Schism


c. The genesis of the theory of Conciliarism


d. The Council of Pisa (1409): three popes


e. The Council of Constance (1414-1418)




The Council of Basel and a new schism


g. The Problematic


h. Consequences of the Western Schism


In France


In German


In England


In Spain


4.The Renaissance


a. Interpretations: discontinuity-continuity-diversity in continuity 72


1. The theory of discontinuity


2. Theory of continuity


3. Our Optic: Diversity in continuity


b. The essence of the Renaissance


c. The Church and the Renaissance



Alexander VI: Renaissance pope par excellence


C. OtherReligious Causes


1. The decadence of scholasticism and the rise of nominalism


2. The defective ecclesiologies of Wyclif, Hus and Wessel


3. False Mysticism


4. Evangelism


5. Corruption of the Church


6. The psychological turmoil of the late medieval period








The Protestant Reformation




Resistance against Rome




Resistance against Hapsburg centralization and absolutism



3. The Socio-Economic Situation in


4. The Personality of



New Historiographical and Methodological Problems





Martin Luther


1. The Personality of Luther


2. Brief summary of his life


3. Three essential points of Luther’s doctrine


Sola scriptura


Justificatio sola fide (justification only by faith)


Sola gratia


4. Chronology of the break



The Religious Struggles in Germany until 1555


1. Period of Social Unrest: 1521-1525


The uprising of the knights of the lower nobility (1521-23)


Revolution of the Anabaptists


The Peasant Revolution (1524-1525)


2. Period of Diets and Colloquiums (1525-1532)


Diet of Speyer: 1526


Diet of Speyer: 1529


Diet of Augusta: 1530


Diet of Nurnberg: 1532


Colloquium of Worms: 1540


Colloquium of Regensburg (Ratisbon): 1541


3. Period of War and the Final Truce: 1532-1555


Outbreak of hostilities




Peace of Augusta: 1555


Abdication of Charles V: 1556


Germany in 1555



Conclusion: The Religious Division of Europe




A. Calvin: His Life (1509-1564)


B. Calvin: His Character


C. Calvin: His Doctrine


D. Calvin in Geneva: Realization of Calvinist Doctrine




A. The General Situation in England at the Beginning of the 16 th Century


B. Henry VIII (1509-1547)


C. Edward VI (1546-1553)


D. Mary the Catholic or “Bloody Mary” (1553-1558)



Elizabeth I (1558-1603)




A. In General: The Religious Division of Europe and Its Effects


B. Protestantism and Spiritual Renewal: Pro and Con




A. The Fundamental Problematic: Two Central Questions



1. First Half of the 1500s: Reaction to Protestantism or Catholic Reform?


a. The Traditional Presentation


b. A Revisionist Reading


c. The Contemporary Consensus


The positive element:


The negative element:


d. In Summary


2. Second Half of the 1500s: Catholic Reform our Counter Reformation?



A. A generally negative evaluation:


B. A generally positive evaluation:


a. Counter Reformation thesis


b. Catholic Reform thesis


c. Synthesis: Both Counter Reformation and Catholic Reform


B. The Catholic Reform


1. Various Lay Associations


2. Reform of the Ancient Religious Orders


3. Birth of New Religious Institutes


4. Reforming Work of Bishops in Their Dioceses


5. Program of the Christian Humanists


6. Circles of Catholics Evangelism


7. Roman Initiatives: Curia and Popes


C. The Popes of the 1500s


D. Renewal of Religious Life



Genesis and Development of Religious Life



Two Elements: Charism and Institution



b. The Medieval Period Three Forms of Religious Life: 1) the monastic


communities; 2) canons regular; 3) mendicant friars



The 1500s: New Religious Orders


a. General Considerations


b. Women and the Religious Life


c. Evolution of the Franciscans: the Capuchins


d. Carmelite Reform


e. The Oratorians


f. The Society of Jesus


E. The Council of Trent


1. Prolegomena: The External History of the Council


2. Attempts to Convoke the Council


3. First Period of the Council: 1545-1547


4. Second Period of the Council: 1551-1552


5. Third Period of the Council: 1561-1563


6. Significance of the Council of Trent



a. religious unity


b. capacity for renewal


c. the dogmatic decrees


d. the disciplinary decrees





Causes and Characteristics


1. Causes


2. Political Characteristics


3. Social and Juridical Characteristics


4. Economic Characteristics


5. Other Considerations



A Society Officially Christian




Fundamental Principle


2. Applications of the Fundamental Principle


a. It was founded on the theory of the divine right of


b. Political unity founded on religious unity


c. Catholicism, in the Catholic states, was declared the state religion


d. It was the king’s strict obligation to defend and promote religion.


e. Civil laws were to be in harmony with canonical laws

f. Accepted was the use of the civil authority’s coercive powers by

ecclesiastical authority for its own proper ends

g. A doctor was required to call for a priest in attending to a patient in danger

of death

h. There was the Christian organization of work as in the universities (which

were “corporations,” i.e., “single bodies”) and

i. The Church had the monopoly of social work and education, and of

anything that had the character of the sacred or had some connection with the










The Church enjoyed immunity in various areas,



(1) The royal immunities:


(2) The local immunities:


(3) The personal immunities:



A Church Controlled by the State: Jurisdictionalism


1. From Support of the Church to Control of the Church


2. Three Sets of the Rights of the State vis-à-vis the Church


a. First group of rights, which deals, at least in theory, with the right of the

State to protect and defend the Church:

b. Second group of rights tended to defend the State from the potential


danger that the Church could become vis a vis the State itself:


1) jus incipiendi or jus supremae inspectionis:


2) jus nominandi:


3) jus exclusivae:



4) jus placeti or the exequatur:



5) jus circa temporalia officia:


6) jus appelationis or, in French, appel comme d’abus:


7) jus dominii eminentis:


8) jus patronatus:




Third group: the commendum



Areas of State Control over the Church [Discussed in class.]



Interior Life of the Church: Becoming Worldly


1. Two Opposed Interpretative Directions



a. The liberal-Marxist school


b. The Catholic-inspired school:


2. A Summary Portrait of the Inner Life of the Church



a. Positive aspects


b. Negative aspects


3. In conclusion, one may follow two lines of evaluation:



a. Following Le Bras:


b. Nevertheless, one can make a more positive evaluation of the 17th and

18th centuries through the following fundamental observations: 345

Appendix I:


Extracts from Bossuet's Work on Kingship


Appendix II:


On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy


[Necessity and the Origin of Government]


[The Duties of the Governed]


[The Power, Rights, and Duties of Sovereigns]


Appendix III:


G A L I L E O ' S







Introduction: The Principles of Jansenism


I. The Dogmatic Aspect of Jansenism:


II. The Moral Aspect of Jansenism:



The Disciplinary Aspects of Jansenism:




I. Antecedents


II. The Controversy over the Regalía (royal rights):


1) First grave incident: 1662


2) Second grave incident: 1673-1680


III. The Declaration of Gallican Rights of 1682:


IV. The Compromise under the New Popes:


V. Febronius:



The Sunset and End of Gallicanism:


In conclusion:




The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, 1438




A. Causes:


B. Essential Characteristics of the Enlightenment:


1) faith in reason:



2) faith in human nature:



3) devaluation of the past:


4) optimism:



Practical Applications of Enlightenment Principles:


1) in religion:


2) in morality:


3) in pedagogy:


4) in economics:


5) in politics:



The Balance: Pros and Cons of the Enlightenment Project:


1) Pros:


2) Cons:



The Tragedy of the Church in the 18th and 19th Centuries:


Appendix I:


Appendix II:







A. Character of Portuguese, Spanish and Anglo-Saxon Colonization 441


1. Portuguese Colonization in Asia

2. Spanish Colonization (but applicable to Portuguese colonization of Brazil) 442


3. Anglo-Saxon Colonization



The Patronato



nomination to all benefices;




Relationship with Amerindians and the tragedy of African slavery462

1. Amerindians and slavery


2. African slavery


D. The Portuguese in India, the “Christians of St. Thomas,” and the Holy See 482


The Question of the Chinese and Malabar Rites


1. Causes of the controversy


a. Difficulties in adaption


b. Different methods of evangelization





2. Specific Object of the Discussion


3. Historical Evolution of the Problem


4. Conclusion of the Rites Controversy


F. The Paraguayan Reductions




b) The Organization of the “Reductions”


c) The End of the


d) Historical evaluation of the



Japan: Failed Hopes



I. The Struggle against the Church



1. From the Struggle against the Church to the Direct Assault on the Papacy.




2. Pius VII and


3. The Church in Italy and France from 1800 to



The Historiography on the French







a. Contemporary accounts and historians of the 1800s; negative assessment.


b. Contemporary accounts and historians of the 1800s: positive assessment.







III. Consequences of the French Revolution


1. Positive






2. Negative Aspects













The Decree Abolishing the Feudal System,




Declaration of the Rights of Man - 1789




The Civil Constitution of the Clergy,


Title I


Title II


Title III


Title IV




I. Catholic Reform, Protestant Reformation, and the Catholic Counter Reformation a.The Basic Question on the causes of the Protestant Reformation: three positions: 1. The Traditional Thesis; 2. The Protestant Position; 3. The Marxist Reading; 4. Recent Perspectives b.The Contemporary Consensus

II. The Religious Causes of the Protestant Reformation a.Preliminary Outline: Religious and Other Causes b.Religious Causes i. The Conflicts between Boniface VII and Philip the Fair ii. The Avignon Papacy

iii. The Great Western Schism; Conciliarism 1.The return to Rome: election of Urban VI 2.The beginning of the Schism 3.The genesis of the theory of Conciliarism 4.The Council of Pisa (1409): three popes 5.The Council of Constance (1414-1418) 6.The Council of Basel and a new schism 7.Legitimacy of Haec Sancta and Frequens 8.Consequences of the Western Schism

iv. The Renaissance 1.Interpretations: discontinuity-continuity- diversity in continuity 2.The essence of the Renaissance


3.The Church and the Renaissance 4.Alexander VI: Renaissance pope par excellence

c. OtherReligious Causes


The decadence of scholasticism and the rise of nominalism


The defective ecclesiologies of Wyclif, Hus and



False Mysticism




Corruption of the Church


The psychological turmoil of the late medieval period

III. Political, Social, Economic Causes of the Protestant Reformation a.Growing resistance against Rome and Roman centralism b.Growing resistance against Hapsburg centralism and absolutism

c. Socio-economic factors d.Personality of Martin Luther

IV. Martin Luther: the Protestant Reformation in Germany a.Martin Luther


His psychology


Brief summary of his life


Luther’s doctrine: Sola scriptura, Justicatiosolafide, Sola gratia


Chronology of the break

b.The Religious Struggles in Germany until 1955

i. Period of social revolutions: 1521-1525


ii. Period of Diets and colloquiums: 1525-1532 iii. Period of War and the Final Truce: 1532-155 c. Conclusion: the Religious Division of Europe

V. John Calvin and Calvinism a.Calvin: His life (1509-1564) b.Calvin: His Character c. Calvin: His Doctrine d.Calvin in Geneva: Realization of Calvinist Doctrine

VI. The Reform in England a.The General Situation in England at the Beginning of the 16 th Century b.Henry VIII (1509-1547) c. Edward VI (1547-1553) d.Mary the Catholic or “Bloody Mary” (1553-1558) e. Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

VII. The Effects of the Protestant Reformation a.In General: The Religious Division of Europe and Its Effects b.Protestantism and Spiritual Renewal: Pro and Con

VIII. The Catholic Reform and the Counter Reformation a.The Fundamental Problematic: Two Central Questions i. First Half of the 1500s: Reaction to Protestantism or Catholic Reform? 1.The Traditional Presentation 2.A Revisionist Reading 3.The Contemporary Consensus 4.In Summary


ii. Second Half of the 1500s: Catholic Reform our Counter Reformation? 1.Counter Reformation thesis 2.Catholic Reform thesis 3.Synthesis: Both Counter Reformation and Catholic Reform

b.The Catholic Reform


Various Lay Associations


Reform of the Ancient Religious Orders


Birth of New Religious Institutes


Reforming Work of Bishops in Their Dioceses


Program of the Christian Humanists


Circles of Catholics Evangelism

vii. Roman Initiatives: Curia and Popes c. The Popes of the 1500s d.Renewal of Religious Life


Genesis and Development of Religious Life 1.Two Elements: Charism and Institution 2.The Medieval Period Three Forms of Religious Life: 1) the monastic communities; 2) canons regular; 3) mendicant friars


The 1500s: New Religious Orders 1.General Considerations 2.Women and the Religious Life 3.Evolution of the Franciscans: the Capuchins 4.Carmelite Reform 5.The Oratorians 6.The Society of Jesus

e. The Council of Trent


Prolegomena: The External History of the Council


Attempts to Convoke the Council



First Period of the Council: 1545-1547


Second Period of the Council: 1551-1552


Third Period of the Council: 1561-1563


Significance of the Council of Trent 1.religious unity 2.capacity for renewal 3.the dogmatic decrees 4.the disciplinary decrees

IX. The Age of Absolutism

a.Causes and Characteristics




Political Characteristics


Social and Juridical Characteristics


Economic Characteristics


Other Considerations

b.A Society Officially Christian


Fundamental Principle


Application of the Fundamental Principle 1.divine right of Kings 2.political unity founded on religious unity

3.Catholicism: religion of the state 4.obligation of the state to defend and promote religion 5.harmony between civil laws and canon law 6.use of coercive power by ecclesiastical authorities 7.a limit case 8.Christian organization of work 9.Church monopoly of social assistance and education

10. Church immunities



A Church controlled by the State: Jurisdictionalism


From Support of the Church to Control of the



Three Sets of the Rights of the State vis a vis the Church


Areas of State Control over the Church

d.Interior Life of the Church: Becoming Worldly


Two Opposed Interpretative Directions


A summary Portrait of the Inner Life of the Church

X. Jansenism a.Introduction: Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638) b.The Dogmatic Aspect of Jansenism

c. The Moral Aspect of Jansenism

d.The Disciplinary Aspect of Jansenism

XI. Gallicianism


b.Controversy over the Regalia

c. Declaration of Gallician Rights of 1682


e. Febronius and Febronianism

f. Sunset and End of Gallicianism

XII. The Enlightenment


b.Essential Characteristics of the Enlightenment


Faith in Reason


Faith in Human Nature


Devaluation of the Past


Optimism in the Future



Practical Application of the Principles


In Religion


In Morality


In Pedagogy


In Economics


In Politics

d.Evaluation: Pros and Cons of the Enlightenment


e. The Tragedy of the Church in the 18 th and 19 th Centuries

XIII. The Suppression of the Society of Jesus a.Historiographical Introduction

b.Causes of the hostility toward the Society of Jesus

c. Expulsion from Portugal

d.The Dispersion in France

e. The Expulsion from Spain

f. Clement XIV and the Suppression

g. Evaluation of the Suppression of the Society of Jesus

XIV. Outline of Some of the Principal Problems of the History of the Missions preliminary remarks

a.Character of the Portuguese, Spanish and English colonial enterprise


Portuguese colonization in Asia


Spanish colonization


Anglo-Saxon colonization

b.The Patronato

c. Relationship with Indians and Africans

d.Questions of the Chinese and Malabar Rites

i. Causes of the controversy


1.Difficulties in adaptation 2.Different methods of evangelization 3.Extrinsic factors


Specific object of the debate


Historical evolution of the problem


More recent developments

e. The Paraguayan Reductions

f. Failed Hopes: Japan

XV. The French Revolution Preliminary remarks a.Struggle against the Church


Church and Revolution


Direct Assault on the Papacy


Pius VII and Napoleon


The Church in Italy and France between 1800 and 1814

b.Historiography of the French Revolution


Contrasting Judgments of historians on the French Revolution


Fracture or Historical Continuity?


Immediate results or after a break and reaction?

c. Consequences of the French Revolution: Positive and Negative

XVI. The Church and the Liberal Regime a.A Society officially non-Christian


Purely human and conventional origin of society / authority


Political unity founded on identity of political interests


The end of the concept ‘state religion’: full liberty of conscience



Separation of civil legislation from canon law


State assumption of social activities of the Church


The end of the Church’s various immunities in

the ancient regime b.So-called Separatism: the hiatus between principles

and reality


Pure Separatism


Partial Separatism


Hostile Separatism


Concordats between the Holy See and the States

c. Between Tradition and Modernity: Church in Search of her Identity preliminary Remarks: Church in the

19 th century


The Situation of the Secular Clergy


The Religious Clergy


Pastoral Care


Comprehensive view of the Church

XVII. The Church and Liberalism a.Intransigents


Characteristics of Catholics Intransigents


The Austrian Concordat


Judgment on Catholic Intransigence

b.Catholics Liberals (or Liberal Catholics?)


Condemnation of L’AvenirbyMirariVos


Ulterior evolution of Catholic Liberalism: France


Judgment on Catholic Liberalism

XVIII. The Roman Question

a.Popes of the first half of the 19 th century



The Roman Question: the facts (1859-1861;


ii. Retrospective Look and Relative Problematic

b.Historical Evaluation of the Roman Question

c. The Roman Question after 1870

XIX. Pius IX and the Syllabus errorum a.Genesis of the Document b.Errors Condemned

c. Controversies generated by the Syllabus d.Conclusive Observations

XX. The First Vatican Council (Vatican I)



c. Discussions before the Opening of the Council

d.Discussion during the Council

e. Conclusive Judgment on Vatican I and its Effects

XXI. The Church and the Social Problem a.The Social Question in general


Conditions of the proletariat in the beginning of the 19 th century


Genesis of the social question

iii. Utopian socialism, trade unionism and scientific socialism

b.Slow Awakening of Catholics vis a vis social problems

c. The Conservative Line d.Properly Social Line

i. First period: to 1870-1878


ii. Second period: to 1891 Problems and


iii. RerumNovarumand its historical significance

iv. Third period: from corporationism to unionism

contrasting tendencies


Conclusions: Historical Problems and Evaluations


Modernism - Introduction

a.Principal Protagonists

b.Final Evaluation

XXIII. The Church vis a vis Nationalism and

Totalitarianism a.Nationalism and Totalitarianism: Genesis and Character b.Church vis a vis Nationalism and Totalitarianism:

General Considerations

c. Church vis a vis the Incipient Nationalism

d.Church vis a vis the First World War


Pontificate or Pius XI


The Battle around Anti-Semitism and Fascist racial laws


The Church during the Second World War

a.Pius XII and the War b.The Church in the Warring Countries: Italy, France,

Croatia, and Germany

XXV. The Postwar Church: 1945-1958 a.General Context

b.End of Colonialism: from Missions to Local Churches

c. The Vatican and Israel


d.Communism and the Church: Eastern Europe

e. The Italian Case

f. The concordat with Spain of 27 August 1953:


g. Theological-Pastoral Shutdown of the 1950s

h.New Initiative and Openings: Their internal logic

i. A Comprehensive Appraisal

XXVI. The Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) a.The Idea and the Preparation

b.The Opening of the Council: The Forces in the Camp

c. First Period of the Council: 1962-1963 d.From One Pope to another: Continuity

e. The work of the Second, Third and Fourth Periods:


f. The principal Conciliar Documents

g. John XXIII and Paul VI and the Historical Significance of Vatican II

XXVII. The Post-Conciliar Church: Renewal and Crisis

a.General Context

b.Institutional Reforms

c. Liturgical Reforms

d.Catechetical Renewal

e. Situation of the Religious Institutes after the Council

f. Catholic Associationism: the Catholic and Secular


g. Church and State: New Concordant; Israel; the

Ostpolitik h.The moral crisis of the years 1963-1989; Defection from the Clergy

i. Contestations and Terrorism


j. The Lefevre Affair k.Latin America: from Medellin to Santo Domingo


l. The Fall of Old Europe

m. Concluding Observations

I. Catholic Reform, Protestant Reformation, and the Catholic Counter Reformation

A. The Basic Question:

What are the causes of the Protestant Reformation? Three Positions: the traditional thesis, the Protestant position, and the Marxist reading…

1. The Traditional Thesis:

-- Held by both Catholics and Protestants, this has become the classic position in the historiography of the Protestant reformation

-- The thesis: the Protestant reformation came into being because of the abuses and disorder then


diffused throughout the Church, particularly in the Roman Curia

-- Sound proofs for this classic interpretation:

a) Pope Adrian VI (1522-1523) himself: “We shall

direct all our efforts so that the Curia be reformed, because from it the evils in the Church are probably derived, and so as the corruption of the Church derives from it, so from it must the health and reform

of all begin…”

b) Pope Paul III (1534-1549) would repeat the same

message in 1537 and strive to set the ball of reform


c) The Fathers of the Council of Trent would sound warnings touching on the same issue, as for example Cardinal Madruzzo, in his discourse of 22 January 1546: “For our adversaries, this has been the first cause of their schism”; and then Cardinal Lorraine who, on his arrival in Trent on 23 November 1562 for the third phase of the council, declared: “This tempest has broken out because of us.”

-- This thesis would be repeated all throughout Church History, in the 1600s by Bossuet in France and in the 1800s by Lord Acton in England, and even today…


-- But from the beginning of the 20 th century this thesis has been subjected to a severe criticism:

-- Imbart de la Tour, Catholic, in 1905: other Church historical periods also had grave abuses, but without these issuing in anything like the Protestant Reformation, i.e., in a revolt against Rome

-- Georg von Bulow, in 1916, denied that Luther was the product of a corrupt convent; he asks why the reform did not break out in Italy where things were certainly not any better than in Germany…

-- G. Miegge, an Italian Waldensian, has more recently asked how it was that a fully decadent Church could nevertheless produce a powerful and vital movement as the Protestant Reformation…

-- Today therefore we have Catholics and Protestants united in rejecting the traditional thesis, at least as an adequate explanation; this rejection has taken two directions:

a) To correct the caricature of the Church at the

time of Luther as decadent, and

b) To look into the pronouncements of the

protagonists themselves in order to see what they thought they were aiming for…

-- The general line of argument today: the Protestant Reformation came about not just because of the need to reform


the life, morals and discipline of the Church but to correct what, in the eyes of the reformers, were errors in faith and belief and doctrine…; thus, not just the Church in its life and praxis but the truth about God, man, Jesus Christ, salvation, faith, the Church…

2. The Protestant Position:

-- For the Protestants, the reformation came about because of the felt need to call the Church back to the genuine and authentic meaning of Christianity from which the Roman Church had alienated herself for so long…

-- In Luther’s own words:

-- Life is just as evil to us as among the papists, and therefore we do not condemn them for their practical life. The question is totally different: do they teach the truth?”

-- Even if the pope were as holy as St. Peter, he would always be for us impious.”

-- I do not impugn the immoralities and abuses, but the substance and the doctrine of the papacy.”

-- Although Luther himself denied that he had initially planned to separate from Rome, in reality he nevertheless intended a transformation of the Catholic faith, a refusal of essential points of Catholic doctrine, for example the primacy of the pope, justification understood in the traditional sense, the sacrificial nature of the Mass; in effect, it was never


simply a case of a mere moral or administrative reform of the Church but indeed of a revolution in the Church and of the Church, not only in structure but also in doctrine…

3. The Marxist Reading:

-- According to this account, Luther was not an authentic theologian nor a human being endowed with profound religious sentiments but a popular agitator, the son of a peasant who shared the aspirations of his people oppressed by the landowning bourgeoisie and, expert that he was in the methods of “agit-prop” (agitation and propaganda), knew how to efficaciously guide them on the way to revolution…

-- The Protestant Revolution therefore was nothing but the religious expression of a socio-economic crisis that had attained general proportions throughout Europe in the middle of the 1500s.

-- Expositors and defenders of this position were Engels and his collaborators such as K. Kautsky, C. Barbagallo, and more recent Russian historians…

-- Questions however have been raised about the adequacy of a Marxist reading of the Protestant Reformation; how does one explain a spiritual and religious phenomenon of a universal resonance such as Lutheranism, taking into account only economic factors? Besides, one must not forget that the economic transformation of Europe was in part contemporaneous and in part posterior to the Protestant Reformation. The publication of Luther’s 95 theses on


indulgences in 1517, which one may take to be the beginning of the Protestant Revolt, was at least two years before Cortés touched the shores of Mexico…

-- How does one make sense of the fact that members of the different social classes adhered to the Reformation:

peasants and artisans, bourgeois and nobles and princes, that is, people who in substance had opposing economic interests?

-- The flow of gold from Germany to Italy in the 1500s had diminished with respect to that of the 1300s.

-- And finally, it is difficult to establish an exact relation between economic crisis and separation from Rome; indeed, in Antwerp in 1566, how does one explain the anti-Roman revolt accompanied by the smashing of images in conditions of full economic boom and increase in wages and salaries?

-- Furthermore, one may not undervalue the mystical and spiritualist ideas of the leaders of the rioting peasants of 1524-1525, nor the attitude decisively counter-revolutionary of Luther in that occasion, after an initial moment of hesitation when he demonstrated himself favorable to the aspirations of the rebels…

-- All of these questions highlight the inadequacies of a reading that is exclusively Marxist in orientation; one must rather hold that the Protestant Reformation was a complex historical phenomenon that cannot be reduced to one explanatory scheme…


B. The Contemporary Consensus:

-- The Traditional Thesis continues to have relevance in any

consideration of the Protestant Reformation. It cannot be denied that abuses in the Church provided the immediate context and inciting reason for Luther to emerge from relative obscurity to overwhelming public scrutiny. It also cannot be denied that abuses provided the rationale for the cry reformatio ecclesiae in the late medieval period. Neither

can one deny that these abuses had, by and large, never really been attended to and corrected.

-- The Protestant Position, which focuses on the question of

truth, must be given greater weight. Luther himself understood what he was about in this way. This has become an important point, and one that has generated a lot of historical studies regarding the truly real differences between Luther, Calvin and their followers on the one hand, and Catholic theologians on the other, on such topics as “justification” for example. The ecumenical movement has

focused on this subject and dialogue has taken place on the mutual clarification of doctrines.

-- The Marxist Reading, although overblown and

reductionist, has nevertheless given rise to the conviction

that, in the consideration of the Protestant Reformation, one cannot and may not overlook “the material conditions of life”.

A social history of the Protestant Reformation need not take


the ideological and reductionist trajectory pursued by classical Marxists. -- Variants of one or the other historical account above are reflected in the following:

-- Lucien Febvre, in a study which came out in 1929 and amplified in 1959, and in agreement with the growing consensus among Catholic and Protestant historians to reject the Traditional Thesis, proposed a new explanation of the Protestant Reformation by primarily underlining the psychological factors informing the events of the time.

-- Thus in the 1500s:

-- Diffused was a need for a new religiosity, one that was far from the “superstition” of the common masses of people and from the aridity of scholastic teachers, purified of every form of hypocrisy, and anxious for a certitude of salvation that would assure people an authentic interior peace…

-- Two components of this new religiosity or even spirituality:

a) the direct and immediate knowledge of the word of

God, without human intermediaries (thus: the translation of the Bible into the vernacular tongues), and

b) the consolation of feeling and knowing themselves to

be really pardoned by God, something which auricular sacramental confession no longer seemed to provide sufficiently, because of the utter impossibility of wiping away any doubts about the efficacy of the sacrament actually


practiced, or the possibility of an unforeseen death before a good confession…

-- in summary: this certainty could be obtained precisely by recourse to the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith…

-- other historians (G. Ritter, L. Cristiani, J. Lortz, R. Garcia-Villoslada) provide a more complex understanding of the Protestant Reformation:

a) religious causes: anti-papal tendencies of the age due

to the diminution of papal prestige since the 1300s, a false

mysticism, the decadence of scholasticism, the collective psychological situation of the German people, etc….

b) political causes: growing opposition to Rome and to

Hapsburg centralism; the rise of the nation-states…

c) social causes: ferment among the German classes,

particularly the peasantry…

d) personal factors: the personality of Luther himself,

with his complex character, his terrible and grandiose religiosity, which never failed to leave a strong impression on his listeners…

e) cultural factors: the renaissance and its recovery of

classical and humanistic studies…

f) economic factors: the development of capitalism…


[-- Finally, new methods in historical research and historiography are continuing to provide new perspectives and interpretations of the Protestant Reformation. Minute studies on particular aspects and local histories are providing new data for an ever growing need to come up with an adequate and comprehensive account of this period in the history of the Church. For example, political factors would now seem to supplant any straightforward interpretation of the thirty year war that ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 as a “religious war”; Catholics and Protestants were both allies and enemies at the same time, with Catholic France often allied with some Protestant states against the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which had its own Catholic and Protestant contingents. It is also the case that cultural studies are bringing to the fore various points of view that highlight issues connected to women, bodies, etc. Some historians today consider the events surrounding the Protestant and Catholic reform movements as attempts to deal with a changing cultural situation, the situation of “modernity”.]


II. The Religious Causes of the Protestant Reformation

A. Preliminary Outline: Religious and Other


B. Religious Causes

1. The Conflicts between Boniface VII and Philip the Fair

Two different and opposed mentalities


The pope, an intransigent and overly juridical mind


The King, unscrupulous, an exalted view of his royal rights: the king is supreme in his own territory; neither the Emperor nor the Pope has any authority over him…

Occasion for conflict:

o The king, due to financial demands imposed on him by the war against the English, imposed extraordinary taxes on the clergy. The Pope (clericislaicos) prohibits the exaction of taxes on


ecclesiastical goods without the authorization of the Holy See.

The King responds by prohibiting the exportation of money outside his kingdom.

The Pope, deprived of alms form France, saves the situation agreeing to rename the taxes as “gifts.” o Pope appoints as nuncio a French bishop who was a declared enemy of the French King; the king arrests the French bishop.

The Pope issues a bull AuscultaFiliprotesting against the action of the King; king prohibits the bull from being disseminated in France.

Pope issues UnamSanctam(*Theory of the Two Swords) Attempts to bridge the gap would prove unavailing; the king would send a contingent of troops to Italy to arrest the pope and to put him on trial in France where it was intended to call a general Council.


Meanwhile, the Pope had, in his bull Super Petri Solio, beganto prepare the solemn excommunication of the French king and the release of his subjects from their oath of loyalty to him (1303).

French troops however, one day before the publication of Super Petri Solio, occupied the city of Avagni and imprisoned the pope, who was waiting for them in his chambers dressed in full papal regalia…

The Pope was rescued by the people of Avagni and is escorted back to Rome by a Roman faction; broken in health of mind and body, Boniface VIII dies on 11 October


Significance of this episode in the history of the Church; o The death of Boniface VIII is considered by

many as the end of the Middle Ages o The first of the struggles:

Political authorityof the pope among the nations impaired and his then recognized role as moderator overall interests now in ruins.


Put in question therefore, the medieval ideal which subordinated the political to the moral and, in the strict collaboration of the two powers, religious, and civil, which tended to construct a civilization based on the Christian faith

In the strictly religious field, the papacy, though intact, nevertheless suffered damage to its prestige as the supreme authority in the Church, given that a Catholic sovereign had dared to put him under his power and authority.

In the estimation of Cardinal Matteod'Acquasparta in the consistory of June 1302, the pope had been humiliated, the medieval unity of Christians broken definitely, the collaboration between the two powers destroyed, and public life was well on its way to secularism and secularization

2. The Avignon Papacy (“The Babylonian Captivity of the Church”)


After Boniface VIII: Benedict XL, but a brief reign


Election of a new pope in 130 at Perugia after 11 months of conclave: Bertrande de God, Archbishop of Bordeauz, who was not a cardinal (and who had maintained neutrality in the conflict between Boniface VIII and Philip the Fair)

Took the name Clement V but did not go to Rome and in 1309 found himself at Avignon.

From 1309 to 1376, Avignon became the papal seat.

Benedict XII constructed a sumptuous palace.

Clement VI acquired the territory of Avignon from Giovanna; the Queen of Napoli, to whom it then belonged so that at least formally the popes at Avignon were supposed to enjoy independence.

Urban V: After some order and restoration had been effected in Rome and the papal states, the popes returned to Rome and stayed there from 1167 to 1370 but because of political instability in the Italian peninsula, decided to return in Avignon.

Gregory XI was persuaded to return due to the prayers of St. Catherine of Siena, by the objective necessity of the Church and the state she was in, by the outbreak of war between France, England again; definitive return therefore in 1377 by the whole curia.


Three important aspects of this Avignon Period:

1. The pope, as the chaplain of the French king

Although juridically free and independent, in fact the Avignon popes were freely under the influence of the French monarchy, so that it was said, with some exaggeration but substantially true, that the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, hadbecome reduced to being thechaplain of the French king

Seven Popes during this period: all were Frenchmen, the majority of the cardinals were Frenchmen.


In 70 years of the Avignon Papacy: created were 113 French cardinals, 13 Italian cardinals, 5 Spanish, 2 English and one Ginevran Cardinal.


In canonization: prevailing were French saints, almost a third of the grand total.

Clement V was particularly weak before the French King.


He revokes the papal bull UnamSanctamfor France


Agrees to suppress the Order of the Knights Templars on the insistence of the French King, and looks the other way when the latter


confiscated the wealth and property of the Templars for his own.

In general, the papacy became an instrument of French political power given the ever more serious rise of nationalism in Europe during the 14 th and 15 th centuries. o Note the Hundred Years War between France and England, which lasted from 1339 to 1483.

2. in second place

John XXII (elected at 72 years old, died at 90 years old) engaged in a quarrel with Ludwig of Bavaria, the German Emperor…

Context: Struggle for the German Imperial crown between Ludwing and Frederich of Austria

In the meantime: John XXII arrogated to himself the right to rule and administer the Italian parts of the Empire while the question of who should be the legitimate emperor remained unresolved; the pope appointed Robert d’Ajou.

Ludwig refuses to recognize Robert; the pope threatens to excommunicate him; the German emperor accuses the pope of heresy and appeals to a General Council; the pope excommunicates him and releases his subjects from his obedience…


Stalemate… controversy continues under the successors of John XXII; Benedict XII and Clement VI, ending only with the death of Ludwig o 20 years: Germany was under interdict, with the Emperor and his supporters excommunicated several times… o Effect therefore: A fearful decline in papal authority which abused the power of excommunication for largely political reasons…

In the political sphere: In the Diet of Frankfurt of 1338, the Emperor, confirming the decision taken by the Prince-Electors several weeks earlier, declared that the Imperial election would now be reserved to the seven Germans (3 ecclesiastical: the prince-bishops of Colgne, Trier and Mainz; 4 lay: the sovereign heads of Bohemia, Saxony, Brandenburg, and the Palatinate) WITHOUT the need for papal confirmation…

Thus, the thesis of Innocent III, who worked for a considerable control by the pope over the imperial selection, would now be definitely voided.


Peace would return only after 1347, death of Ludwing, and the new Emperor, Charles IV, came to be recognized by all…

3. The aversion to the growing fiscalism / the Avignon papacy

Note: The Avignon curia was financed by money coming from:

o 1) Tribute from the papal states and from the kingdoms which were vassals of the popes like the Kingdom of Naples; taxes from the exempted monasteries and from bishops and other prelates on the occasion of their nomination and other occasions


2) The spoils from deceased prelates, i e., their goods which in many cases passed to the pope


3) The procurations or taxes paid in occasion of canonical visitations


4) Taxes from the chancellery, where various things were south and granted: dispensations, privileges, graces whether spiritual or material.


5) The annates: the fruits of the first year of benefices conferred

Compounded by the ever-growing tendency of the Avignon papacy to arrogate to itself the nomination


of more and more offices in the dioceses, which before were decided locally by the people or by the local bishop

o Bishops therefore reduced to dependence on Rome for various things: Avignon crowded by office seekers Attempts to caltulate revenues:

o 18 milions florins (Villani, whose brother was the banker of the pope) left by John XXII


Gave rise to various pamphlets, which denounced the wealth of the papacy


Cry: Reformatio Ecclesiae It would now become more and more difficult to distinguish between (a) moral and disciplinary reform, and (b) dogmatic and institutional reform…

3. The Great Western Schism; Conciliarism Gregory XI, the last Avignon pope and the first who returned to Rome 14 months after his return to Rome, Gregory XI dies* new election by 16 cardinals then present in Rome: 7 from the southern part of France, 4 from other parts of France (11 French cardinals, therefore), 4 Italians and 1 Spaniard (Pedro de Luna)


a. The return to Rome: election of Urban VI

Roman crowd, fearful that another Frenchman would be elected to the papacy and who would be favorable therefore to a return to Avignon, applied pressure on the conclave, to elect, if not a Roman then an Italian

Elected: BartolomeoPrignano, Italian, archbishop of Bari, subject of the Queen of Naples, Giovarim of the Angiovene ancestry (therefore French).


Election of 8 Aril 1378: Prignano receives 11 votes


But doubt; vocation repeated (was it 10 or 13 votes?)


Roman crowd irrupts into the conclave; confusion


Several cardinals flee


9 April 1378; 12 cardinals remain in Rome - results of election communicated to the pope- elect and announced to the people


A few days after, the new pope who takes the name of Urban VI, was regularly crowned at St. Peter's; for several weeks thereafter, no protests from the cardinals regarding the validity of the elections


b. The beginning of the Schism

Urban VI lacked mental balance; attached his own cardinals and subjected them to various indignities

French cardinals react; irritated by the unstable behavior of the pope and frustrated in heir desire to return to Avignon, they withdraw to Avagni.

2 August 1378: 13 cardinals publish their declaration, with its own version of what transpired; followed on 9 August by a letter to the pope and an encyclical addressed to the people: all of which declared that the election of Urban VI was invalid because it was extorted from them under duress and by pressure from the Roman crowd.

No reactions were forthcoming, so the cardinals met in Fondi on 20 September 1378 and elected as new trace Robert of Geneva cousin of the king of France, known for his diplomatic prowess and military acumen. Robert would take the name Clement VII.

After a failed attempt to take over Rome, Robert/Clement VII transferred himself and his court to Avignon.

The Catholic world was now divided into two camps or “obediences”:



Recognizing Clement VII as the legitimate pope were France, Spain and Scotland and, later, the Kingdom of Naples


Recognizing Urban VI as the rightful pope were Northern Italy, Central Italy, England, Ireland, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and Germany

o Catherine of Siena supported Urban VI; Vicente Ferrer supported Clement V11, of whom he was fora long time the confessor The Question: The cardinals, in electing Urban VI,

were they free or did fear render null and void the elections?


This is not an idle question

Why was the

declaration by some of the cardinals delayed in coming? Was not this an indication that they had before given taut acceptance of the validity of the election of Urban VI?


Inany case, the question remains open even today

Historians' evaluations have often followed national lines: the Italians defend Urban VI and the regularity of his election; the French on the other hand doubt the


correctness of the election; the Germans side with the Italians

One historian, Fink, declares that the election of Urban VI was neither valid nor invalid

We do not have sufficient historical data to make a definitive judgment at this point

Meantime, several cardinals who had hitherto supported Urban VI were planning to capture him; they were discovered however and were arrested and executed on orders of the pope

In 1389, Urban dies; succeeding him were:

Boniface IX, then Innocent VII, and finally Gregory XII

Contemporarily, at Avignon, Clement VII was succeeded by Benedict XIII (the Aragnonese Pedro de Luna)

Attempts to bring the two meet and dialogue would end in failure; at one point, Benedict XIII was somewhere near La Spezia, and Gregory XIII was at Lucca… There they remained, neither waiting to make the first move… The division seemed irreparable…


c. The genesis of the theory of Conciliarism

Within this context of controversy, turmoil and division, while discussion were being held regarding whet means could be employed to put an end to the schism, old ideas would once again come up, but now in a more radical dress…

In short, something that was meant to be a stopgap in a situation of emergency, would now be taken up as the norm and rule in Church structure and ecclesiology.

The question: If so, by whom? And under what circumstances? o 7 century: The idea had already come up with Yves of Chartres and other canonists (during the time of the controversy over investiture) and finally the DecretumGratianio Supreme authority of the Church rests in the pope, but he can fall into heresy or cause a schism in the Church and can therefore be deposed by a Council

Better: A Council, convoked in case of necessity or emergency by bishops or by whomever had sufficient authority and prestige, could and should pronounce a sentence, a declaratoria i.e., could and should take action officially that the pope had


lost his authority because of the crime which has now marked him.

Note however that the medieval canonists had given the term “heretic” a rather wide and elastic meaning so that the term could also bepredicated of a pope who; refusing to resign, makes himself responsible in some way for the destruction of unity in the Church or for its being endangered

The conciliar theory in this context stands at the base of the appeals to a council in the controversy surrounding Boniface VIII and John XXII and has been accepted as legitimate by succeeding tradition, from Suarez to Bellarmine, down to Wernz and (thus, providence) Vidal who expresslystudied the case of a pope who was crazy, heretical and schismatic.

In this way, providence would have provided the extreme means by which the Church could be saved from a potentially insolvable problem.

Note that this thesis does not contradict that of the primacy of the pope in the Church.

This balanced view however was easily set aside in the doctrine taught by such o John of Paris, De potestaderegia et papali




Marsilius of Padua, DefensorPacis (1324)


William of Occam, Dialogusdeimpcratorum et pontificumpotestate

In these authors, the subject of authority is NOT the pope, i.e., not the head, but the head and members together. Thus, in the dioceses, the bishop and the diocesan chapter, and in the universal Church, the pope and thecardinals in as much as they are constituted representatives of the Christian people, or in other words, the pope and the Council, convoked by the emperor by delegation of the Christian people.

The Church is therefore NOT a monarchy; the pope is reduced to the rank of a constitutional sovereign or ruler, the executor of laws stabilized by the Council.

Regarding the composition of the Council itself, this could be understood in various ways:


As composed only by bishops and priests


Or as extended toinclude participation by lay people of different sexes and conditions

As often happens in history, it was quite easy to, pass from what was conceived as an emergency


measure to deal with an urgent case to that of a norm and a principle in normal times due to the

pressures of the moment

And it is not always

easy to distinguish with clarity thedefenders of one system from those of the other 11 th century: watermark - Conciliar Theory - Umberto di Silva Candida - but at the end of the 14 th century - through the University of Paris

Various attempts to deal with the problem of multiple popes:

o 1)Heinrich from Heinbuch or Langenstein, Epistulapacis (1379), Epistulaconciliipacis


o 2)Ganhausen, Epistulabrevis(1379), Epistulaconcordiae (1380) Proposals by Pierre d'Ailly and Nicolas de Clemanges (1394), three ways to reestablish peace in the Church:

1) The viacessionis (resignation of the two popes)

2) The viacompromissionis (arbitration as to who is the rightful claimant of the papacy)

3) The via concilii

Others: Jean Gerson in France, Cardinal Zabarula in Italy; also favorable to the conciliar theory: Odo Colonna, who later would be elected pope


The Councils of Pisa and Constance would provide favorableoccasions for the clarification and development of the thesis of conciliarism

d. The Council of Pisa (1409): three popes

Difficulty of getting the two popes to reach an agreement; cardinals of both obediences convinced that the only way to resolve the impasse was to

convoke a council, which was opened in Pisa at the end of March 1402

Despite the opposition of the two principal adversaries, the Council went on to pronounce its judgment on the two popes (Gregory XII, Benedict XIII). They were declared notorious schismatics and therefore no longer conceivably popes, not one or the other.

The cardinals then proceeded to elect Cardinal PietroFilargi, Archbishop of Milan, who took the name of Alexander V and who would be succeeded by BaldassareCossa, who took the name of John


The Avignon pope Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna) and the Roman pope Gregory XII (Angelo Covario) refused to recognize the validity of the Council of Pisa nor do they renounce their rights - thus we


move from the "empiadualita” (impious duality) to the "maldetatriplicate" (accursed triplicity).

Naturally enough, those who considered valid the election of Urban VI and therefore his successor

Gregory XII as the legitimate pope judged Pisa to

be illegitimate because the Council was convoked

against the wishes of the pope.

But it must be said that the wider Church did

accept the validity of Pisa as a Council, by appeal to the Conciliar Theory of the heretical pope, which was applied precisely in the Council’s decision of 5 June 1409.

But John XXIII did not endear himself to the Christian world and the Pisan obedience would soon fill into discredit and the same would be extended to the Council itself.

Interestingly however was the fact that the Borgia who came to power in the 15 th century would continue the papal line by calling king Alexander


(but Angelo Roncalli would refuse to do so when


decided to call himself John XXIII)

From 1947 on however, the two Pisan popes would no longer appear in the list of popes of the AnnuarioPontificio; but the problem remains open

and unresolved…


e. The Council of Constance (1414-1418)

Failure therefore of the Council of Pisa to resolve the problem of multiple popes.

Emperor Sigismund, taking advantage of the critical political situation in which John XXIII found himself (who had to flee Rome, then invaded and sacked by the force of Ladislas, King of Naples), induced the pope to convoke a new Council which opened at Constance in November of 1414.

Decision was, taken that vocation was by nation which neutralizedthe great number of Italian

prelates present in the Council (Italian bishops and theologians, with the right to vote made up 50% of the Council's membership). John XXIII had promised to abdicate if the other papal claimants

, the pope to flee Constance

did so also

but new disagreements convinced

The emperor decides to have the Council continue its work and approved the Council over the pope. o Haec Sancta (cf., Martina, p. 74) “It [i.e., the Council of Constance] first declares that it is lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit,constitutes a General Council, represents the Catholic Church and has immediate power


from Christ to which anyone, of whatever status, and condition, even if holding the papal dignity, is bound to obey in matters pertaining to the Faith, extirpation of the schism and reformation of the said Church in head and members. o It also declares that any one of whatever condition, status and rank, even if holding the Papal dignity who will contumaciouslydisdainto obey the orders, status, ordinances or instructions made or to be made concerning the aforesaid subjects or matters pertaining to them by this hold synod or by any other lawfullyconvened General Council, shall be, unless he comes to his senses, subjected to appropriate penance and duly punished, and recourse shall be had, if necessary, to other resources of the law."

John XXIII brought back to Constance by force where on 29 May he was deposed for reasons of simony, scandal and schism

Gregory XIII then agreed to abdicate, but on the condition that his letter convoking the Council be read in plenary session; the Council of Constance


would agree to this request and received the abdication of Gregory XII.

Remaining was Benedict XIII who, unmovable, even if abandoned almost by all his erstwhile supporters, even by Vicente Ferrer, was deposed in July of 1417, under the usual accusations of perjury, heresy and schism…

The way was opened therefore to the election of a new pope but the Council wished to treat first various reforms in the Church, hoped for not only as a struggle against the worldliness the curie and the indiscipline of the clergy, but also as a way of changing the ecclesiastical constitution of the Church, with the suppression of a good part of the centralization which developed in the 12 th to 14 th centuries, together with an affirmation of a greater power for the ecclesial base.

However, only a few pints could be agreed upon due to various contrasting positions - the decreeFrequensof October1417rested the superiority of a council, stabilized its periodic convocation at every10 year, and suppressed several rights attributed to the papacy.

Only then did the Council proceed to elect a new pope


Elected was Odo Colonna who took the name of the day's saint Martin V (1417-31)

The Council had already condemned two proto- reformers:Wyclif and Hus, the latter was burned at the stake on 6 July 1415.

New decrees of reform were approved, and on 22 April 1418 the Council was declared closed.

Martin V, in the last full assembly of the Council declared his approval for everything decreed by the Council in the matter of faith.

Eugene IV would do the same in 1446, but without prejudice the right, dignity and preeminence (or honor) of the Apostolic See

f. The Council of Basel and a new schism

Martin V, following the Council of Constance decree of Frequens, and after a modest celebration of a Council at Siena in 1423, where tensions were felt between pro and anti-reform elements in the Church, convoked another Council at Basel in


The Council of Basel opened, after Martin V’s death, and under his successor, Eugene IV; surfacing immediately were tendencies identified with extreme conciliarism; from the second session (February 15, 1432) , the decrees of Constance


which declared the superiority f the Council over the pope were confirmed…

In 1437, opportunity came when a big group of Greeks came in search of union with Rome for religious as well as political reasons; Council transferred to Ferrara and then to Florence, where Cosimo de Medici (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosimo_de'_Medici) offered hospitality.

Majority of the Fathers in Basel refused the translation of the Council to Italy; they initiated a new schism, which lasted from 1438 to 1449; Eugene IV http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Eugene_IV was excommunicated and deposed, and a new pope elected, Amadeus VIII http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipope_Felix_V of Savory who took the name of Felix V; the schism had a limited extension however, in 1449, Felix V abdicated, while the rest of the Council elected pro forma the reigning pope, Nicholas V (1447-1455); the Council then, after negotiation, dissolved itself.

In the meantime, the Council of Florence continued its work, realizing between 1439 and 1442 union with the Greeks, the Armenians and the Jacobites, and defining in July 1439 various points of dogma, the procession of the Holy Spirit, the existence of purgatory, and most important of all the primacy of jurisdiction of the pope over all of


the Church (cf., Martina quoting the decree Laetenturcaeli, p. 76) o We also define that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman pontiff have primacy over all the earth; that the Roman pontiff, insofar as he is the successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of all the Apostles and the true Vicar of Christ, is the head of the whole Church, the father and teacher of all Christians; that it is to him that the full power of shepherding, directing and governing the universal Church has been transmitted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as contained in the acts of the ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons. o We confirm the order to be conserved among the other venerable patriarchs which has been transmitted to us by the canons, so that the Patriarch of Constantinople is the second after the most holy Pontiff of Rome, that of Alexandria the third, that of Antioch the fourth and that of Jerusalem the fifth, all their privileges and rights being safeguarded.”

g. The Problematic From the straightforward narrative of the events that transpired, from Constance to Basel, a whole complex of problems emerges which, in substance, can be summarized in two points over which historians are clearly divided:


1.First, the legitimacy of the Council of Constance, which is connected to the significance of the reading in full assembly of the letter of Gregory XII convoking the Council.

In former times, this fact was interpreted as the Council’s acknowledgment of the legitimacy of Gregory XII and of the superiority of the pope over the Council. Today, almost all historians consider this fact to be nothing more than a diplomatic concession whit no juridical value or, more realistically, as a genuine instance of play-acting.

The question therefore: Was the Council of Constance legitimate or not?

The majority of historians now consider the Council of Constance to be a legitimate Council, but the related problems are far from resolved satisfactorily…

Fink says that the Council’s legitimacy was only for its own time and place, i.e., limited to the situation of emergency and necessity in which the Church then found herself.

Note that the two succeeding popes, Martin V and Eugene IV had never approved Constance in an absolute and unconditional way.

Fois accepts the argument of Fink, but only for the initial convocation of the Council and the role-played in it by the Emperor Sigismund.


Garcia Villoslada however continues to entertain doubts about the legitimacy even of the first part of the Council… 2. Second, the more intricate question of the meaning and juridical value of the decree Haec Sancta.

According to some historians (de Vooght who would later mitigate his own position, Hans Kung, Francis Oakley), the Council Fathers, in the decree Haec Sancta, wanted to propose a doctrinal point, a doctrinal principle, thus interpreting in an excessive manner the old thesis of the heretical pope: the Council is superior to the pope in so far as the pope could be considered responsible for the division of the Church (i.e., for the damage to its unity) and therefore heretical and schismatic…

According to the private opinion of some theologians, from exception or epicheiato the law, the thesis thus becomes an explicit truth of the extreme form find this full expression…

The error therefore of the older historians would consist in attributing to the Fathers of Constance the mentality that would develop much later in Basel, i.e., in interpreting Constance in the light of the event of Basel…

Another current of interpretation, headed byJedin and Franzen(the author of your textbook), and which now seems to be the dominantinterpretation, is that Constance


never intended to dogmatize or topropose a definitive law, but only to defend a moderate conciliarism i.e., to stabilize a legislative measure, non-doctrinal in nature, but valid for exceptional cases of emergency, and to sustain the authority of the Council to judge persons who at the moment carried papal authority but without the requisite secure legitimacy. This thesis (of Jedin, Franzen and others, including it seems of my professor at the Greg, Giacomo Martina) is based on the following arguments:

a) The declaration of the protagonists

themselves in the days before the affirmation they gave to Haec Sancta.

b) A careful exegesis of the text of

HaecSancta which shows that the immediate goal of the decree is said to be the end of the schism and the reform of the Church from the

then prevailing abuses, there are no references at all to Scripture and Tradition which are usually found in dogmatic treatises and decrees; and the terms usedare quite different from those usually found in dogmatic definitions.

c) Only in the Council of Basel is the

superiorityof theCouncil over the pope is declared Veritasfideicatholicae (a truth of the Catholic Faith).



Nobody ever thought to condemn those

like the Dominican general who held the contrary opinion (i.e., contrary to extremeconciliarism).

e) Martin V, even before the closing of the

Council of Constance,reaffirmed the supreme authority of the pope in the bull Intercunctasof 22 February 1418 (cf., Martina, quoting "Intercunctas, no. 24", p. 78). • "It is believed that the pope, canonically elected, who is the one at the moment [i.e., Martin V], after the proclamation of his own name, is the successor of Blessed Peter, possessing supreme authority in the Church of God."

Conclusion: Haec Sancta was therefore an emergency measure meant to deal with an emergency situation in the Church, NOT a dogmatic definition of an article of the Catholic Faith,

Only a few, like Pickler, see in the decree a "fundamental law of Canon law,"which goes beyond the concrete situation in which the Church found herself.

Even fewer are those who have seen in Haec Sancta that extreme conciliarism which would transfer supreme authority in the Church from the pope to the Council in a habitual way: Gil had defended this opinion in his volume, "Constance et


Bale-Florence" (cf. Martina, quoting Gil, p. 78), but later abandoned it.

o "It wasConciliarism in its most extreme form, proposed by the Council as infallible truth." Finally and historically, more than the exact content and meaning both theological and juridical, of the decree, it is the efficacy (i.e., the effect) which the decree that had in public opinion which has importance for us however


Here, it cannot be denied that Haec Sancta and its radicalization in the extreme conciliarism of the Council of Basel contributed to the diminution in the eyes of the people of the prestige and authority of the pope.


Under this perspective, the decrees Haec Sancta and Frequens may be compared, with the requisite distinction kept in mind, to the famous Canon 28 of Chalcedon, which in the immediate historical context may be explained and understood in a similar way.

Canon 28: The Orientals did not intend to negate the divine originprimacy, but only to affirm and safeguard the dignity and prerogative of the patriarchate of Constantinople.

This later became interpreted literally as a foundation for theByzantine Church, thus opening the way to the schism of 4054)


In the same way, the positions of Constance, isolated from their own historical context, became the foundation for many attempts undertaken to prove and secure the independence of national Churches, to the point of becoming the hinge on which turns the movement and theory which isGallicianism (the Gallican articles make explicit reference to the decrees of Constance). From Constance on, theappeals made to a Council would increasewhich fact Pius II would condemn in his bull Execrabilis(1460) under the pain of excommunication, but despite which will continue nonetheless, from Savonarola to Luther. o Incidentally, this explains why, in succeeding generations, popes have been very reticent indeed in convoking Councils; Trent itself needed to hurdle various fears before it was set in motion, and even then, it was toolate to repair the damage of the Protestant Reformation. Absolutely historically sterile on the other hand was the definition of papal primacy arrived at in the Council of Florence in 1439, which could have constituted a clear response to the conciliarism thesis and its defeat o This passed relatively unobserved, remaining unknown even to bishops of the Roman see



Trent seemed to be ignorant of the same; subsequent theological tradition also ignorant of the same, from the 1400s to the 1800s


Martina: a historical enigma, the definition of papal primacy arrived at in the Council of Florence

A lesson to be learned: decisions from on high are efficacious only if they correspond to the hopes and exigencies of the base

h.Consequences of the Western Schism

There have been many attempts to alternate or to reduce almost to nothing the consequences of the schism in order to underline the responsibility of Luther, the unique author of the Protestant revolution.

But undeniable the clear tendency of many rulers

to exploit the occasion in order to extract from the Holy See the greatest possible number of concessions


Rulers would demand concessions to exchange for their adherence to this or that obedience.


Reinforce in this way was the tendency toward national Churches which undoubtedly was one of the principal cause of the Protestant revolution.


In France

In France, 1438, publication of the Pragmatic Sanction which would ratify for Frame many decrees of Basel as state law:

Theory of conciliarism

No appeals to Rome as ultimate chamber

Limitation of the rights of the Holy See in the nomination to the offices and benefices of the Church in France.

Clearly delineated in the 15 th century the aspirations in France to form a national Church, independent or at least autonomous from Rome, in various aspects dependent on thestate

In German

Complains against Rome always on the rise, to be found for example inthe Gravamina NationisGermenicae, presented for the first time in themiddle of the 15 th century (1400s) by, the Archbishop of Mainz and thereafter repeated many times in the various diets of the Germans

German princes begin to usurp ecclesiastical jurisdiction in their territories, with the imposition of taxes on Church goods, the naming of candidates to ecclesiastical offices, etc


The saying: Dux Cliviaeest Papa in terries suis (the Duke of Clives, a small feudal state in the Rhineland)

Nationalist movement becomes particularly strong in Bohemia for two reasons:

o Reaction against the judgment against Hus o Reaction against the centralism of the Hapsburgs

In England

Diffidence toward Rome stronger from the Avignon period of the papacy; pope in English eyes was an instrument of the French king

Thus: denial to the pope of the right to appoint candidates to Englishecclesiastical offices, prohibition of appeal to Rome and the interdiction of papal bulls into English territory without consent of the English king

Wide sympathies for reform idea of Wyclif

In Spain

Religious unity at the base of national unity and to defend it better, the setting up of the Spanish Inquisition (against the ambiguous behavior of converts from Judaism andIslam), which was


under the direct control of the Spanish state or monarchy Thus in this way the Church would lose her independence even in a state defined almost by nature as Catholic


4.The Renaissance

a. Interpretations: discontinuity-continuity- diversity in continuity

1. The theory of discontinuity

2. Theory of continuity

3. Our Optic: Diversity in continuity

b. The essence of the Renaissance

c. The Church and the Renaissance

d. Alexander VI: Renaissance pope par excellence

C. OtherReligious Causes

1. The decadence of scholasticism and the rise

of nominalism

2. The defective ecclesiologies of Wyclif, Hus

and Wessel

3. False Mysticism

4. Evangelism

5. Corruption of the Church

6. The psychological turmoil of the late

medieval period


III. Political, Social and Economic Factors of the Protestant Reformation


In general, we have to remember that, in the life and diffusion of all great heretical (and/or schismatic movements), the political factor is almost always never absent. For example:

1. Monophysitism owed its diffusion in Palestine, Syria and Egypt also to political motives. These motives contextualized the religious aspect opposition to Byzantium, more or less common in that region.

2. The Greek Schism of 1054 was the effect not so much of theological controversies but of the by then already antique antagonism between Rome and Constantinople, an antagonism that became more acute from the moment that Charlemagne assumed the title of Holy Roman Emperor.


3. In Bohemia, John Hus was exalted as a national hero in protest against tendencies that would deprive Bohemia of her national character, tendencies that sought to reduce her to one more German province.

I. The Protestant Reformation

It is therefore not surprising that, in the matter of the Protestant Reformation, we find an analogous situation. At the root of the Protestant revolt we find a double opposition: 1) against Rome, and 2) against the Hapsburgs (who were seen to be allied with Rome).

1. Resistance against Rome. According to Erasmus, “the aversion to the name of Rome had already penetrated the soul of many peoples through that which is narrated about the customs of that people.” The anti-Roman sentiment was particularly strong in Germany following the long struggle between Ludwig of Bavaria and Pope John XXII. The Avignon Pope was a supporter of an anti- German political strategy and responsible for the centralization and most of all the fiscalism of the


Roman curia based at Avignon, provoking therefore endless lamentations summarized and codified in the programs of the so-called Gravamina nationisGermanicae (“complaints of the German nation”). “That Germany may be free,” “Let us not forget that we are Germans,” Ulrich of Hutten used to repeat, defining himself as the savior of Germany. Thus, in the prologue to his complete works, Luther in 1545 united his own cause to that of German independence, affirming: “The Germans are tired of supporting the thievery […] The popular aura propitiously breathes forth everywhere, because those arts and the ways of proceeding of the Romans, with which they have filled and fatigued the world, are already and now abhorrent to all.” The Nuncio Aleander informed Rome in 1521 that, in a nutshell, the enterprise launched by Luther was in fact something that transcended Luther himself because the issues precisely had their roots in a profound anti- Roman affect particularly among the nobility.


2. Resistance against Hapsburg centralization and absolutism. The evolution of the feudal state into the absolutist state, already common in large parts of Europe, implicated a long and hard struggle between the nobility and the monarchy. In England, Spain and France, the kings, coming at the end of a long process lasting many centuries, would strip the nobility of every political power and erect on the ruins of feudal power a strong national state. In Germany, this same struggle would have the opposite effect: the great feudal powers succeeded, in the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, to wrest full independence, reducing the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation to a simple confederation of sovereign states. Naturally, the emperors of the House of the Hapsburgs would exert every effort to maintain and reinforce their own authority, and this would generate an irreducible opposition between nobility and the emperor. This situation of conflict would influence in definitive manner the religious attitudes of the nobility. If the emperor, by tradition, interest and conviction, proclaimed himself the defender of Catholicism, left to the German princes was exactly the opposite sentiment. It is in this historical context that one must


position the appeal launched by Luther in 1520, on the occasion of the imperial election of Charles V (Charles I, King of Spain) who with his power seriously threatened the autonomic tendencies of the German lords (cf. Luther’s address To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation) and the editorial success of his publication.

3. The Socio-Economic Situation in Germany. Though this does not provide an adequate and exclusive explanation of the birth of Luther’s movement, it must nevertheless be considered in order to better understand its rapid diffusion in Europe. Most of all in Germany, two social classes suffered the effects of the economic crises consequent to the “discovery” of the Americas: the peasant and the lower nobility. The feudal knights had lost their old power due to the depreciation of the value of their agricultural lands in the face of a) the rise of trade and commerce centered in the towns and cities, b) the transformation of military techniques that now accentuated infantry over against the cavalry, and c) the reinforcement of the higher nobility (the dukes and


princes). Obviously, not happy with their lot, the knights were looking for a way to catapult themselves once again into positions of power, and the prospect of their acquisition of Church lands offered a comfortable and easy occasion, more so that it was easy for them to hide their true motives under the pretext of zeal for the reform initiated by Luther and others. Among the peasants, revolt had been fermenting for a long time, with riots violently exploding periodically in Germany from the last quarter of the 15 th century to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (1476, 1478, 1486, 1491, 1492, 1502, and 1513). But more than the unbearable material condition of their lives, the peasants were impelled to rise in arms by their inferior juridical condition. Unlike their counterparts in France, Italy and Spain, the German peasants continued to languish in the position of serfs, dependent on their feudatory lords who, if sometimes dealing with them in a paternalistic way, usually dealt with them harshly in their attempt to preserve and promote their feudal rights. Certainly, pushed beyond the limits of their patience and suffering, the peasants often had no recourse but to explode in violent action.


4. The Personality of Luther. All of this enormous complex of religious, political, and social factors constituted, in a manner of speaking, the immense explosive material that had accumulated in the course of various decades. It was enough for a spark to make it explode. Now, as in many other cases, it was easy enough to find a man to generate that spark, so that we do not have to believe that without Luther nothing would have happen. On the one hand, the papal nuncio Aleander had already reported that in Germany 100 other persons were ready to put themselves at the head of a movement in the place of Luther. On the other hand, it would be anti-historical, in this and other cases, to ask what would have happened if Luther did not come into the scene. This is a pseudo-problem; it is not possible to give a scientific response different from a simple hypothesis…. Instead, it is the task of history to establish what state could have been the effective contribution of Luther in the genesis and development of the Protestant Revolution. We have to respond immediately and without hesitation that his influence was very strong: he was the one who took the present but disparate, dispersed and even latent factors together, brought them to their maturation, and


assured their maximum efficaciousness. For his gifts, his talents of preaching, leadership, guidance, his vivacious imagination full of sculpted images, his conviction of having been sent by God in order to announce not a theoretical system but an intimate and overwhelming experience, which in his mind constituted the only way to peace and to salvation, his vehemence in asserting his affirmations, his external appearance that magnetized his listeners, impressed by the gleam in his eyes, Luther was made in order to inflame and to enthral the popular masses and to convince and to rouse the intellectuals of his day. In short, Luther did not determine the cause of the revolt, but he hastened the moment of its explosion and threw the weight of his strong personality in support of it, increasing its effectiveness. On the other hand, it was the same typically German temperament of Luther that ended with restricting the significance of his action, so that he brought about the development of a religiosity that was more national than international in expression.

II. New Historiographical and Methodological Problems


1. In order to know well the spiritual environment in which the Protestant Reformation reached its mature point, it is necessary to have a good understanding of Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466- 1536). The bibliography on Erasmus is large. His practical program of church renewal is perhaps better revealed, among his works, in Enchiridion militischristiani, also in his ElogioumMoriae, his Colloquia, in several of his letters.

Erasmus incarnated, perhaps in a much more vivid and therefore more efficacious manner than others, the tendencies of Christian Humanism and Evangelism, of which he was the recognized leader. With his brilliant writings he contributed to the founding in large parts of Europe the ideals typical of the movement: tolerance, purification of the worn out and anachronistic structures that still weighed down the Church, return to the sources. Erasmus left behind a spiritual heritage off which we continue largely to live. It is not excessive to assert that he was, for several decades, the intellectual father of central Europe.


Two essential questions come immediately to mind in thinking of Erasmus. First, what was the source of the great influence exercised by a man who was not really a profound thinker and whose moral temperament was nothing to crow about? Second, was this influence positive or negative?

It is easy enough to respond to the first question. Erasmus better than many others knew how to express the aspirations that were widely diffused in many strata of public opinion. He was in some way the interpreter of his time. But then, as usually happens, history started to move more decisively and more rapidly than what the writer had foreseen, Erasmus, arm chair intellectual that he was and not a man of action, less original and less creative than what is first apparent, wanted to remain neutral and thus was surpassed and left behind.

More difficult is the response to the second question. According to the schemas typical of Marxist historiography, Erasmus was the classic bourgeois individual, who wanted reform but refused revolution, and because of his fears


ended with arresting the march of authentic renewal. Catholic scholars considered the Dutch intellectual weak, both physically and morally, who first with his sarcasm and then with his indecision, ended with favouring the Protestant Reformation. Erasmus posuit ova, Lutherusexclusitpullos. Erasmus laid the egg, Luther hatched the chick. In other words, Erasmus planted, Luther harvested. More recent historians, from Imbart de la Tour to Garcia Villoslada, despite admitting the limited intellectual and moral character of Erasmus, show themselves more benevolent toward him, substantially considering him a precursor of genuine Catholic Reform of the first half of the 1500s. One could then revise the old saying, affirming instead: Erasmus posuit ova, Loyola exclusitpullos. Erasmus laid the egg, but Loyola hatched the chick.

2. Hubert Jedin, in his fundamental work Catholic Reform or Counter-Reformation, affirms: “No other work of Luther is so lacking in originality in its concrete content as much as his writing addressed to the (German) nobility” dated 1520.


This affirmation could be documented more usefully, recalling here the many plans and projects of reform before 1520. Again, Erasmus would be useful to remember here, particularly his work Colloquia, reworked many times by the author from 1518 to his death. Expressed in humoristic form, with biting insinuations and scenes presented in shaded colors, the humanist criticized the abuses of the times: pilgrimages reduced to tourism, the excessive cult of relics, the pharisaism of certain exterior religious observances, vows lightly meant and pronounced, the excessive reliance on indulgences, the prevalence of devotion to the saints rather than Jesus, etc. But Erasmus was in substance more fortunate, at least due to the wide diffusion of his works, than other writers who also invoked the need for reforms in the Church but with a different tone.

3. Still to be explored are the themes of anxiety, guilt and sin and their various aspects and up to what point they weighed on the mentality of the 1400s and the 1500s. E.Castelli, in his work Il demoniaconell’arte(Rome, 1952), has


demonstrated with what frequency the theme of death and the devil runs through the art works of the Quatrocentoand the Cinquecento. J.Delumeau, in his Le pecheet la peur: la culpabilisation en Occident (XIII-XVIII siècles) (Paris, 1983), has analysed the pessimism and the sense of the macabre in the Renaissance, examining the almanacs, homilies, and other Catholic and Protestant pastoral works. One may also read with profit this other work from the same author: La peur en Occident: une cite assiegee(Paris, 1978).

4. One may query whether the numerous descriptions of religious life in Europe and especially in Italy in the beginning of the Cinquecento were always contrasting aspects, positive and negative. Helpful in this regard would be H.Bohmer’s book Ignatius von Loyola (Stuttgart, 1941). Also useful, particularly life in the Rome of the Cinquecento, would be P. TacchiVenturi, La vita religiosa in Italia durante la prima eta dellaCompagnia di Gesu (Roma, 1950).


IV. Martin Luther and the Protestant

Reformation in Germany

A. Martin Luther

1.The Personality of Luther

- Traditional Catholic portrait of Luther: drawn from the frame traced, three years after Luther died, from a canon of Breslavia, Johannes Cochlaurs of Wittenberg: Luther here is painted as a demagogue without a conscience, a hypocrite and a vile person.

- Beginning of the 1900s this portrait of Luther still dominant in tow classical works: that of the Dominican H.Denifle and that of the Jesuits H.Grisar.


But Denifle had the merit of identifying Luther’s theological formation in Augustinianism, of late scholasticism, and strongly impregnated with nominalist ideas


He pictures Luther however in starkly negative terms as without humility, proud,


tepid in prayer, dominated by strong passions and moved to formulate a new doctrine in order to justify his own behavior

- Grisar the Jesuit, who rejects the thesis of Luther’s moral depravity, nevertheless insists on his psychological deformation, his proclivity to scruples, anxiety, assailed by terror of the devil and of sin, even a pathological disposition inherited from his parents.

- For Denifle: Luther = morally corrupt

- For Grisar: Luther = a neurotic

- TODAY: A re-evaluation of Luther as a person and monk o Recognized today as a man of deep religiosity Luther had a deep personal experience of God, an authentic sense of sin and of his own nothingness, from which emerged his profound attachment to Jesus Christ and his blind trust in the Lord and in the Lord’s redemption…. To this was united a deep charity for the poor. o On the other hand, the Augustinian possessed a strong character which often


was unilateral, excessive, exuberant, impulsive, more prone to impose his own interpretation of reality rather than to consider it in a humble fashion, and a strong tendency towards subjectivism, which pushed him to make rather unilateral interpretations of Scripture and rendered him less ready to accept the directives of those who presented themselves as mediators between God and humanity (thus: the Church, the pope, the hierarchy, the priests, religious superiors, even secular rulers like the emperor….); he fascinated those who came into contact him with; he had the natural gift of leadership; but from his spirit, anger would usually issue, which brought him to use crude and vulgar expressions, and even to lies, invectives and expletives; he was called “doctor hyperbolicus”

- Thus:

Authentic and profound religiosity A man of Tendency to subjectivism, contradictions Authoritarianism and violence

Authentic and profound religiosity A man of Tendency to subjectivism, contradictions Authoritarianism and violence 88


Fichte: “the excellance”

He had an authentic gift for the German


German national





language and contributed

development of consciousness


2.Brief summary of his life

- Born in Eisleben, Saxony (northeast Germany, south of Berlin) 10 November 1483

- Died in the same city on 18 February 1546

- From a family of peasants, but whose father knew how to improve the family’s economic situation to that common to the lower bourgeoisie

- Studied philosophy at Erfurt, in an atmosphere decidedly Ockhamist

- In 1505, entered the Augustinian convent at Erfurt in fulfilment of a vow made during a storm during which a lightning almost struck him

- Ordained a priest (1507); 1508 moved to Wittenberg (southwest of Berlin, on the Elba River); taught ethics, then dogmatics and


exegesis, commenting on the Psalms and the Pauline letters - 1510: in Rome for questions of internal reorganization of the Augustinians - 1515-1517: period of evolution of Luther’s doctrine but also period of psycho-spiritual crisis:

o Feared that he would not be able to free himself from sin; also that he belonged to the ranks of the damned…. o Probably due to the excessive work he had to do and his propensity toward melancholy, and by his Ockhamism, with its accent on the arbitrary will of God coupled with the extreme importance given to the human will Had difficulty distinguishing between/among concupiscence and temptation, from sin itself Engaged in an anxious search for a way of salvation: his spiritual director, Johannes Staupitz, tried to allay his fears Began studying the German mystics, but in a direction which accentuated


the nothingness of the human being before God and of human passive abandonment towards God - Probably in 1517: the tower experience (turmerlebnis) o In his room: an illumination, while meditating on Romans 1, 17: “The justice of God reveals itself in the Gospel from faith to faith as it is written: the just shall live by faith.” o According to Luther: Scriptures teaches us that “justice” does not refer to the intervention of God through which God rewards the just and punishes the sinner but rather it refers to the act by which the Lord covers the sins of those who abandon themselves to him through faith o The Letter to the Romans therefore speaks not of vindictive justice but of salvific justice, the grace by which God sanctifies us… o It could be that the Augustinian reformer had given excessive importance to one moment in a long psychological process; in any case, the concept of salvific justice, or


justification, would now assure an always more important place in Luther’s doctrine o This doctrine was in itself traditional, but Luther would push it before the limits of orthodoxy, negating in a unilateral way every necessity on the part of the human being to dispose himself to God’s grace with his free cooperation… o Thus for Luther: It was sufficient to abandon one’s self to the salvific action of God; it enough to believe, in order for one to know and to feel one’s self savedo Fromm this: short step to the other crucial points of his system, which admittedly is quite difficult to synthesize… o In any case, we can attempt a synthesis of the essential points of Lutheranism in the following manner: sola scriptura, justificactio sola fide, and sola gratia.

3.Three essential points of Luther’s doctrine


Sola scriptura Luther begins by attacking the decadent scholasticism of his time and its rationalism But he arrives quite far: Scripture contains everything that is materially necessary for salvation and is self- interpretative, does not need to be illumined and clarified by the tradition; in short Scripture is by itself sufficient to give to the Church the certitude on all revealed truth; excluded therefore the tradition of the Church and the mediation of the Church through its magisterium…

Justificatio sola fide (justification only by faith)


between two

different questions, even if the two are connected


between two concepts of justice:

1. Intrinsic justice (i.e., authentic interior, intrinsic and ontological renewal of the person)









2. Imputed justice (i.e., purely attributed, extrinsic, juridical, non- inherent, not accompanied by an interior renewal)

The greater stress would be placed on the second however (although the first would not disappear totally), particularly by the Lutheranism that followed Luther and Melanchton

Apparently for Luther, at least according to an interpretation which today has been largely abandoned, human nature after the fall, i.e., after original sin, is intrinsically corrupted, the human being has now lost his freedom, so that every work of his, even if considered good, is necessarily sin.

But God, without cancelling the sin and without interiorly renewing the person who believes in him and entrusts himself to him (God), nevertheless attributes to him, to the person, the merits and holiness of Christ, and therefore looks on the sinner as if he were renewed and just


1. These ideas appear clearly in his Lectures on the Letter to the Romans, written by Luther between 1515 and


2. The human being would therefore be, at the same time, sinner and just, simul Justus et peccator,” but understood thus: the human being is really a sinner, but just thanks to the consideration of God and his promise to liberate him from sin and to heal him perfectly… a.He is healthy in hope, but a sinner in reality b. But he has the beginning of justice, so that he can ask to be always more justified, knowing that he really is unjust.

The teaching of Luther is in reality more complex than we are able to lay out here, and as a whole, quite close to the traditional teaching of the Church.

He admits that there is a real change in the human being through grace, but such a change is not realized in one


instance but only through a long and arduous process.

The human being therefore does NOT possess grace as something that is his, there for the taking and according to his pleasure.

No, grace remains a gift which calls, from outside and from above, the person to go out of himself; in this sense one can call the human being sinner and just a the same time, because he is prone as always to fall into sin…

This tendency, not eliminated in the baptized, is subdued only slowly and with great effort.

In Philipp Melanchton however, i.e., in his Apologia ConfessionesAugustanae, a genuine interior renewal is denied outright on the one hand, and yet admitted also a rebirth and a new life… the first affirmation would become more dominant and classical in subsequent Lutheranism, as understood by Catholics down the centuries; but one


wonders how objectively correct that interpretation is… Luther admits however that one arrives at faith only of one has already been justified by Christ (cf. Martina, p. 133)

Nevertheless, Catholic interpretations of Luther would have him admit that one could arrive at justification only by way of a trusting faith. 1. i.e. not only through an intellectual adhesion to an objective truth but at the same time through an existential conviction that all of that has happened for me, pro me, pro nobis, or, in other words, the abandonment of one’s self to God with the certainty that God saves me.

2. Our good works have no effect at all in this process; but the Catholic Church insists on the necessity of good works, even if it also admits that these are not the efficient cause of salvation, but that they only prepare us, they dispose us, toward salvation…


3. For Luther, the human being, once made just, operates good works, but he does not accept that good works could be a way to God, of moving towards God

4. But that salvation itself is truly gratuitous, a divine gift, is a point on which Luther and Catholics are fully in agreement…

Sola gratia o Because there is a real immediacy between the human being and God (as affirmed by Paul in his Letter to the Galatians), Luther rejects every external mediation instituted by the human being, not the work of God and therefore as totally without salvific value. Here lies in nuce Luther’s ecclesiological doctrine: he does not accept therefore the traditional hierarchical Church… o Though Lutheranism admits pastors and even bishops (but only as an honorific and disciplinary dignity, without any extra


powers), it agrees with Luther on the blurring of lines between lay and clergy