Why this topic? We must remember moments and crisis so that we can reflect on Holy Mother Church's resilience throughout her trials.
Why would The Angelus be interested in turning the spotlight upon Protestantism, and especially upon the person of Martin Luther? The Protestants are celebrating the fifth centenary of Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses in Wittenberg. This bold move marked the beginning of the Protestant revolt against the Holy Catholic Church.
“It is not Luther who brought about the Modern Times, it is the Modern Times which brought ,about Luther.” There is little doubt that the sparks of revolt were already enkindled in many minds at ,the turn of the 16th century, especially in Germany, which was politically divided and morally corrupt from top to bottom. If a mad man, endowed with fiery boldness and gusto, initiated a mob insurrection, it could ignite an erruption that could rage out of control. The new Roman Emperor of Germany, Charles V, sat on a potential volcano, having to contend with powerful aristocrats only too keen in their inflammatory desire to upset his power. But Charles could not admit the Protestant ascent:
It is certain that a single monk must err if he stands against the opinion of all of Christendom. Otherwise Christendom itself would have erred for more than a thousand years. Therefore I am determined to set my kingdoms and dominions, my friends, my body, my blood, my life, my soul upon it. ”
Faith and morals, by Divine command, have been handed down to us through the Church. The elimination of just one jot or tittle, much less large chunks of the Church’s perennial teaching is a recipe for self-destruction. Rejection of the Church’s authority instituted by Christ on earth is not the way to order and peace, but to chaos and bloodshed. It took only 50 years of Lutheranism to set all Europe on fire with moral and social disaster. What the Church needed at that time was not a revolution from the bottom, but reform from the top. The real reform came—but alas— 50 years too late! It nonetheless came with certainty, and worked wonders in the wake of the great Council of Trent, bringing about the Counterreformation.
For anyone who has eyes to see, history is the mirror of life and has not a few things to show and teach us. When the enemy is assaulting the Church, the most sacred bastions of faith and morals, clear teaching and asceticism is the answer. Fifty years of post-conciliar modernism continues to endanger the Church. What Trent condemned as heretical and excommunicated from the Church is given safe conduct today within the walls of the Vatican. How long have we to wait before we witness a return to sanity through a renewed Counterreformation under a second Council of Trent?
Fr. Jürgen Wegner