The ancient Office of the Inquisition is up to its old tricks again. The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, has said that Catholics “have no reason to celebrate” the beginning of the Reformation.
The German cardinal said in a new book-length interview: “We Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered the beginning of the Reformation that would lead to the rupture of Western Christianity.”
The date, known as “Reformation Day,” marks Martin Luther’s sending the Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg a document protesting the sale of indulgences, and also posting on the door of the chapel at Wittenberg – a text which came to be known as the 95 Theses. Luther did not then propose separating from the Church, but the 95 Theses eventually led to his excommunication in 1521.
Cardinal Müller says in the new book: “If we are convinced that divine revelation is preserved whole and unchanged through Scripture and Tradition, in the doctrine of the Faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchical constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there exist sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.”
The remarks will cause a stir, coming a year before the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day. Extensive celebrations and commemorations occurred in Germany and elsewhere.
Pope Francis traveled to Sweden in October 2017 for an ecumenical commemoration, along with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and other denominations.
The cardinal noted that the champions of the Reformation had framed the pope as Antichrist in order to “justify the separation” from the Catholic Church. This misrepresentation of their motives is quite the opposite of the facts. The Lutherans separated from the church because they saw that the pope was Antichrist.
Citing the Vatican II document Dei Verbum, he added: “A Protestantization of the Catholic Church on the basis of a secular vision without reference to transcendence not only cannot reconcile us with the Protestants, but also cannot allow an encounter with the mystery of Christ, because in Him we are repositories of a supernatural revelation to which all of us owe total obedience of intellect and will.”
In other words, he is placing the authority of the church above the authority of the Bible. He is also saying there is no way that the Catholic Church can become protestant which he considers to be relativism. Protestantism, however, is based on the absolute authority of the Bible, which is quite a different model of truth than Roman Catholicism.
Last year, the cardinal said that in debates over marriage and the sacraments, pastors should “be very vigilant and not forget the lessons of church history.” He said that confusion over the sacramental nature of marriage could lead to divisions similar to those of the Reformation.
While that isn’t likely, the Catholic Church remains committed to unity with authority of the pope and the hierarchy as the basis of a connection to Christ and salvation. Rome never changes.
“The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High.” The Great Controversy, page 571.