I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct. But in that time, if we read the story of the Pastor, a German Lutheran who then converted when he saw reality – he became Catholic – in that time, the Church was not exactly a model to imitate. There was corruption in the Church, there was worldliness, attachment to money, to power…and this he protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and because he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err. He made a medicine for the Church, but then this medicine consolidated into a state of things, into a state of a discipline, into a way of believing, into a way of doing, into a liturgical way and he wasn’t alone; there was Zwingli, there was Calvin, each one of them different, and behind them were who? Principals! We must put ourselves in the story of that time. It’s a story that’s not easy to understand, not easy. Then things went forward, and today the dialogue is very good. That document of justification I think is one of the richest ecumenical documents in the world, one in most agreement. But there are divisions, and these also depend on the Churches. In Buenos Aires there were two Lutheran churches, and one thought in one way and the other…even in the same Lutheran church there was no unity; but they respected each other, they loved each other, and the difference is perhaps what hurt all of us so badly and today we seek to take up the path of encountering each other after 500 years. I think that we have to pray together, pray. Prayer is important for this. Second, to work together for the poor, for the persecuted, for many people, for refugees, for the many who suffer; to work together and pray together and the theologians who study together try…but this is a long path, very long. One time jokingly I said: I know when full unity will happen. – “when?” – “the day after the Son of Man comes,” because we don’t know…the Holy Spirit will give the grace, but in the meantime, praying, loving each other and working together. Above all for the poor, for the people who suffer and for peace and many things…against the exploitation of people and many things in which they are jointly working together. (Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference from Armenia, Jun 26, 2016)
Not even is his worst delusions, Luther would have imagined that the Church he insulted as a “diabolical institution”, “diabolical scum of Rome” or the “great prostitute of Babylon”, would offer glory and recognition in the twenty-first century. This is the “thank you”, whom the Lutherans offered Francis, during his visit to the Protestant community of Rome, happily affirming: “For us Lutherans in Rome, Francis is our bishop” (Aleteia).
Before considering the consistent teachings of Lutheranism, let us remember the condemnations of the Council of Trent on the Doctrine of Justification.
Council of Trent, 6th Session, January 13, 1547, Decree on Justification, Denzinger-Hünermann 1520-1583
1558 Dz 818 Can. 8. If anyone shall say that the fear of hell, whereby by grieving for sins we flee to the mercy of God or refrain from sinning, is a sin or makes sinners worse: let him be anathema [cf. n. 798].
1560 Dz 820 Can. 10. If anyone shall say that men are justified without the justice of Christ by which He merited for us, or that by that justice itself they are formally just: let him be anathema [cf. n. 798, 799].
1561 Dz 821 Can. 11. If anyone shall say that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of grace and charity, which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and remains in them, or even that the grace by which we are justified is only the favor of God: let him be anathema [cf. n. 799ff., 809].
1562 Dz 822 Can. 12. If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema [cf. n. 798, 802].
1571 Dz 831 Can. 21. If anyone shall say that Christ Jesus has been given by God to men as a Redeemer in whom they should trust, and not also as a legislator, whom they should obey: let him be anathema.
1583 Dz 843 Can. 33. If anyone shall say that because of this Catholic doctrine of justification as set forth by the holy Synod in this present decree, there is in some degree a detraction from the glory of God or from the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that the truth of our faith, and in fact the glory of God and of Jesus Christ are not rather rendered illustrious: let him be anathema [cf. n. 810]
Let’s see some of the teachings of the Magisterium regarding Lutheranism:
Table of Contents
I – There are essential discrepancies between the Catholic Church and the sects
II – The sacraments belong solely to the Catholic Church. Outside of the true Church of Christ, the sacraments are as though ‘robbed’ and in an agonizing state, administrated against the will of God
III – Baptism is licitly administered and received only in the Catholic Church. Only in the Church does it produce fruits for salvation
IV – The Eucharist brings about unity among the true believers. Heretics may not receive it
V – Catholic dogma is not subject to change: Truth is greater than explanations and interpretations
VI – The Catholic Faith versus Lutheran belief
VII – Extracts of the heretical writings of Martin Luther presented as elements of comparison with the teaching of the Catholic Church