Thursday, March 6, 2008

That Martin Luther? He wasn’t so bad, says Pope

Here is a fascinating phenomenon. Pope Clement XVI has somehow managed to secure for himself a split personality in which he functions religiously as BOTH good cop AND bad cop.

Richard Owen does a good job of documenting this in a Times of London article today, this time about Martin Luther.

As we see now a second seeming about face (first with Muslims and now with Protestants) we must ask exactly what it is that we keep seeing here? Is this calculated by Benedict XVI as a path to a higher good? "Insulting people is the best way to generate fruitful interreligious dialogue." Are we seeing a person who simply suffers from a deep inner conflict. "Sometimes I think Islam is inherently evil, sometimes I think its great." Is Pope Benedict XVI a calculatING person, who plays this back and forth game as a means surreptitiously to pursue Catholic imperialism? Kind of a theological rope-a-dope?

Whatever this is, it should properly arouse genuine interest among people who take religious belief and the importance of religious leadership seriously.

Pope Benedict XVI is to rehabilitate Martin Luther, arguing that he did not intend to split Christianity but only to purge the Church of corrupt practices.

Pope Benedict will issue his findings on Luther (1483-1546) in September after discussing him at his annual seminar of 40 fellow theologians — known as the Ratzinger Schülerkreis — at Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence. According to Vatican insiders the Pope will argue that Luther, who was excommunicated and condemned for heresy, was not a heretic.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the head of the pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the move would help to promote ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants. It is also designed to counteract the impact of July's papal statement describing the Protestant and Orthodox faiths as defective and “not proper Churches”.

Read the entire article here

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