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Deconstructing Luther?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 10:27
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October 31 was the 499th Anniversary of Martin Luthor’s Reformation. But is reformation the proper term? Lutheran scholar and Italian historian Angela Pellicciari thinks not, advancing the thesis in his newly published book The Truth about Luther that Luthor’s actions were those of a revolutionary and acted to set the West on the road to today’s secularization.

The commemoration of the fifth [499th] anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation this year, and Pope Francis’ impending ecumenical visit to Sweden, has reignited interest in the life and work of the ex-Augustinian monk Martin Luther (1483-1546). The details of Luther’s life are not widely publicized, but many embarrassing aspects of his character were recorded in detail by his contemporaries. In light of various members of the Catholic hierarchy recently seeming to embrace Martin Luther himself, in word and action, the truth about who Martin Luther was and what he thought of the Church should be an important element of the discussion. Fortunately, The Truth about Luther, just published, has been provided by Lutheran scholar and Italian historian Angela Pellicciari. Pellicciari met with Spanish newspaper Alfa y Omega to discuss this new book; the interview is reproduced here in English. [link added]

I don’t know much about Luther beyond what I learned in elementary school – on October 31, 1517 nailing his 95 Theses against the Catholic Church to the door of a Wittenberg church. Of course back then I was an Episcopalian, could count the number of Catholics I had known in my life on the fingers of one hand, had never heard of an indulgence, and had no idea that Luther was a Catholic priest or that the church door he nailed his Theses onto was a Catholic church. But despite my general ignorance on Luther, I always thought that, generally, he had done something good. I think Angela Pellicciari would disagree with that characterization, seeing Luther as one more used by German nobility than reformer, and one whose ultimate impact was to open the door in the West to the ideas and forces of secularization, which he finds, at a minimum, socially disintegrating. I found Angela Pellicciari’s interview to be a head turner, and quite honestly, pretty stunning, as coming from a Lutheran scholar. And as The Pope visits the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo for a joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the Reformation, I wonder if work, such as that of Angela Pellicciari, will help or hinder efforts toward any future formal Catholic Lutheran reconciliation. I hope the former, as I think only the evil one rejoices in seeing Christendom splintered.


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