I am curious about what modern Catholics think of the Martin Luther and the reformation. I am primarily interested in what is the official position of the church and in getting a feel for the spectrum of the rank and file Catholics, but Catholic dopers who want to chime in with personal opinions are welcome.
I imagine that they run the gamut between. “It was overall a good thing because it led to much needed reformation within the mother church, even if the schism it caused was unfortunate” to “Martin Luther was a tool of satan whose actions led millions of followers away from the one true faith. It was the worst event since the crucifixion of Jesus.”
My view of Luther’s actions had always been that while the schism was unfortunate, and the wars it spawned were horrible, it was a necessary step to reform a number of abuses within the church.
Having said that, I tend to have a fairly negative view of the man, based on both his antisemitism, and the way that he stabbed the Bauerkrieg in the back. At the very least, his comments at that time seem to me to be utterly contradictory with his own actions vis-a-vis Rome. These are both, however, reactions of a modern, educated person, who is steeped in the thinking of the primacy of individual conscience that is probably the single greatest legacy of Luther in the modern world. Without Luther’s thinking, the Reformation that he started, and the traditions that came from the various religious and philosophical movements that followed, it seems unlikely that I’d have the habits of thought to produce that condemnation.
Martin Luther is a great historical figure, with all that entails: admirable acts and traits mixed inextricably with troubling, and even vile, ones.
The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church, solved a lot of the purely theological issues and clarified the differences.
No unity in sight, but since Justification was the key problem, we can now smile a bit more.