Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D. – January 6, 2017
A new Vatican document in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has officially recognized Martin Luther as a “witness to the gospel,” reversing a centuries-old tradition.
“And so after centuries of mutual condemnations and vilification, in 2017 Lutheran and Catholic Christians will for the first time commemorate together the beginning of the Reformation,” states the new text from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
While welcomed by many, the Vatican’s new attitude toward Luther has met with expected resistance. The real sticking point has not been Luther’s well-known animosity toward the papacy and the clergy (he said that popes and bishops are not bridegrooms of the Church, but of “brothel-keepers and devil’s daughters in hell”), but his hostility toward the Jews.
With Luther’s rabid anti-Semitism, in fact, it is difficult to see how the Vatican can ask Catholics to venerate him unconditionally as a “true witness” to the gospel of Jesus Christ.