While Pope Francis is commemorating Martin Luther in Sweden, Karl Keating is doing what apologists do — deriding Protestantism:
We commemorate December 7, the “day that will live in infamy,” because it was the prelude to a long and costly war. Again, there was heroism, but we wish that heroism had never needed to be called up.
We commemorate Bastille Day and the October Revolution not because what came from them, the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution, were good but precisely because they were evil, and we want to remember that evil so that it won’t return in another guise. . . .
I see nothing to celebrate in the Protestant Reformation. It was the greatest disaster the West suffered over the last millennium. It brought theological confusion, political turmoil, and decades of war. The religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries killed about three percent of the world’s population, the same proportion that died in World War II. The religious wars would not have occurred had the Reformation not occurred.
But unlike the critics of Trump, Keating acknowledges that the other candidate has problems:
Much was wrong in the Catholic Church of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Personal morality was lax (though not matching today’s laxity), and corruption was widespread among the clergy and was particularly scandalous the higher one’s gaze went up the hierarchical ladder. One should keep in mind, though, that, however bad things were in the decades before Luther took out his hammer, they had been worse in the tenth century. If there were a few “bad popes” in Luther’s era, there were worse popes, and more of them, five or six centuries earlier.
The Church of the tenth century desperately needed reform, not revolution, though it might have fallen into the latter if reform hadn’t come about. But reform did come about, and the Church not only soldiered on but prospered. The result was the High Middle Ages, the era in which Catholic principles most effectively (but still inadequately) undergirded Western society.
By the turn of the 1500s a once-again-complacent Christendom was in trouble. It again needed reform, but what it got was the Reformation.
What Keating doesn’t answer is whether his communion ever experienced reform, or if his very different interpretation of the Reformation compared to Pope Francis is another indication that calls for reform, like the poor, are always with us.
One thought on “Protestantism as Trump”
What caused worse confusion, the Reformation, or Vatican II? An easy case can be made for the latter. Since the council and a succession of increasingly doctrinally fuzzy postconciliar popes (Ratzinger’s ‘Intro to C’ and ‘Eschatology’ are the papal Emperor’s New Clothes), who can figure out what the Catholic Church teaches? Sure, “it’s all in the CCC,” but that’s a wax nose in the hands of constant waffling and public spin. When a Pope isThe Advocate’s Man of the Year, NYCs Cardinal says “Bravo!” to buggery, and we are asked to make things a threesome by “accompanying” the couple shacking up next door, who can even figure basic moral theology or what “Everyone knows the Church’s teaching” even means? But *Luther* was the worst thing to ever happen to Christianity? Keating has written some solid stuff, but this material is only a little better than Jack Chic. Who at least had some fun art to pair with his alarm to the unconverted.