Skip to comments.When was it?
Posted on 01/27/2014 7:57:57 PM PST by matthewrobertolson
For Protestantism to make much sense, the Church must have, at some point, abandoned the truth and become apostate. Otherwise, Protestantism has no license to exist. But when was this "Great Apostasy"? Protestants offer varying opinions, but none of them hold up to scrutiny.
Was it right after the deaths of the Apostles?
A view most supported by Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses is that, after the Apostles, the Church quickly fell into apostasy. This would be a massive blow at both God's promise to guard His Church (Joshua 1:5; Matthew 16:18) and all of the doctrine mentioned hereafter. But if this were true, would not one of the disciples of the Apostles have spoken out? We have writings from many of them, including Pope St. Clement I, St. Barnabas, St. Polycarp, and St. Ignatius of Antioch. None of them mention a "Great Apostasy". But even if we indulge the other side and admit the possibility that even these men fell away, we still have early documents and creeds (like the Didache) that were probably formulated under the authority of the Apostles. Because Christians continued to be in accord with these extra-Biblical teachings, we know that they must have been in accord with the true Church.
Was it at the time of Constantine?
A semi-popular view is that Constantine corrupted Christianity by encouraging "pagan" elements and demanding a decision from the First Council of Nicaea. This is the view that I come into contact with most often, but it is also the most problematic. If the Church became apostate by 337 (the year of Constantine's death), then the Biblical canon which only really started to be compiled by St. Athanasius in 367 may be wrong: we would have no assurance of its infallibility. Also, on top of that, all later theology would be necessarily nulled.
Was it during the Middle Ages?
The possibility of an apostasy in Medieval times seems far-fetched, too. This theory revolves, primarily, around hatred for some "bad" popes. Rather than focusing on doctrinal issues, proponents of this theory typically resort to character defamation. Many attack the Crusades, which tamed a fanatic Islam, and such. But in this period, literacy rates increased, art flourished, the university system developed, laws were better-codified, and the Bible became more accessible to lay people [1, 2]. The only seemingly objectionable doctrinal development was Pope Boniface VIII's declaration, "Outside of the Church, there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins", but even this originates with St. Cyprian! The teaching relates to: 1) the fact that baptism (whether by water, blood, or desire) brings one into the Church (even if done within a Protestant community), because the sacrament was entrusted to Her and She allows anyone with the right intent to perform it, and 2) the importance of conscience and the dangers of apostasy. Nothing worthy of damnation here!
Was it just before the Reformation?
The idea of a restoration being needed just before the Reformation also seems improbable. This common idea is based on the "selling" of indulgences [1, 2, 3] (Martin Luther attacks the practice multiple times in his Ninety-Five Theses), but is mostly due to a misunderstanding. Again, the Protestant understanding usually relies on the assault of characters: people like Johann Tetzel are demonized -- perhaps rightfully -- for abusing the system. But this abuse was not a doctrinal problem of the Church; rather, it was a disciplinary problem of men. Indulgences simply remove the temporal punishment due for past sin -- they are not a "Get out of Hell free" card -- and even when they were "sold," they required some sort of penance. Indulgences only have a salvatory effectiveness (remittance of time in Purgatory) if the recipient is already destined for Heaven. So, it would seem that the fuss is all about nothing.
In conclusion, I see none of these options as likely.
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I think most protestants would settle on the actions of the Medici popes that proved the fatality in infallibility. The Word could not be corrupted. Men could.
Unfortunately, this led to a lot of division in Christianity in interpretation from the Amish to Baptists. This has somewhat weakened Christianity’s political power. An unfortunate side effect.
For Matthew to have a column today, first he must invent a straw man to rail against...
1. the whole idea of praying to “saints” instead of to God directly.
2. the just flat out creepy way they are obsessed with Mary
3. the apparent primacy of church tradition over biblical teachings.
4. the apparent disdain for the intelligence of their congregation to discern truth on their own through a study of the scriptures.
***This has somewhat weakened Christianitys political power. An unfortunate side effect.***
Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world. Why are Christians so interested in Earthly power?
“This has somewhat weakened Christianitys political power. “
Anyone wanting to gain political power could join Islam. Now that is a take-no-prisoner style powerful religion.
After seeing what happens in countries where Christianity is sidelined, from Egypt to the Soviet Union, I’m not sure why this isn’t obvious to you.
Add to that, a vow of celibacy and a vow of poverty being in direct conflict with “be fruitful and multiply”.
If you wanted a society based on Islamic theology, yes. It has actually been remarkable in terms of staying power and expansion.
Unfortunately, those who want the Christian ethic to be one that is dominant in society have a harder job than Muslims do. Islam after all, does not have a left wing trying to destroy it.
“I think most protestants would settle on the actions of the Medici popes that proved the fatality in infallibility.”
Possibly, if they’re stupid. Nothing the Medici popes did have anything to do with papal infallibility.
For your ping lists.
Well a few things come to mind, the sale of indulgences, the doctrine of Papal infallibility and the assertion of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the other Bishops such as the Bishop of Constantinople (The Patriarch), the Bishop of Antioch etc.
here are my complaints about your comaplints:
“1. the whole idea of praying to saints instead of to God directly.”
There’s no “instead”. We pray to God. We also ask the saints to pray to God for us.
“2. the just flat out creepy way they are obsessed with Mary”
Your complaint is flat out creepy and nonsensical.
“3. the apparent primacy of church tradition over biblical teachings.”
You apparently have no clue about how scripture IS tradition in written form or how tradition and scripture work together. There is no primacy of Church tradition over Biblical teachings.
“4. the apparent disdain for the intelligence of their congregation to discern truth on their own through a study of the scriptures.”
There is no such disdain and there are plenty of opportunities for scripture study in the Catholic Church.
I think you should learn more before you complain again.
“Well a few things come to mind,”
I doubt there’s much “mind” involved in what was posted:
“the sale of indulgences,”
Never approved of by the Church.
“the doctrine of Papal infallibility”
Which you can’t probably correctly identify or explain.
“and the assertion of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the other Bishops such as the Bishop of Constantinople (The Patriarch), the Bishop of Antioch etc.”
Except for the fact that that was the way it was - as demonstrated by the eastern Churches.
Things such as Islam are why Christians need Earthly power. I can’t decide if you think something along the lines of God will save you from them or you would not be in need of saving if Islam held all current Judea-Christian political power? At first I thought that was a trollish post but after reading some of your other postings I am very curious of what makes you tick.
“We have writings from many of them, including Pope St. Clement I, St. Barnabas, St. Polycarp, and St. Ignatius of Antioch.”
From Clemens Romanus, the alleged “Pope” you mention, on Sola Fide, Predestination, and the immutability of God’s will:
Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. Romans 9:5 From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, Your seed shall be as the stars of heaven. All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1st Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 32. We are Justified Not by Our Own Works, But by Faith.)
“Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were madewho and what manner of beings we came into the world, as it were out of a sepulchre, and from utter darkness. He who made us and fashioned us, having prepared His bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into His world. Since, therefore, we receive all these things from Him, we ought for everything to give Him thanks; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Ibid., Chapter 38. Let the Members of the Church Submit Themselves, and No One Exalt Himself Above Another.)
“By the word of His might He established all things, and by His word He can overthrow them. Who shall say unto Him, What have you done? Or, Who shall resist the power of His strength? When, and as He pleases, He will do all things, and none of the things determined by Him shall pass away.” (Ibid., Chapter 27. In the Hope of the Resurrection, Let Us Cleave to the Omnipotent and Omniscient God.)
Ignatius on predestination and final perseverence:
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fullness of God the Father, and predestinated before the beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace. (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Ephesians, Ch. 0)
Seeing, then, all things have an end, these two things are simultaneously set before us death and life; and every one shall go unto his own place. For as there are two kinds of coins, the one of God, the other of the world, and each of these has its special character stamped upon it, [so is it also here.] The unbelieving are of this world; but the believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in readiness to die into His passion, His life is not in us. (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians, Ch. 5)
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of Him that wills all things (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans. Ch. 0)
I give you these instructions, beloved, assured that you also hold the same opinions [as I do]. But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this. (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Ch. 4)
Flee, therefore, those evil offshoots [of Satan], which produce death-bearing fruit, whereof if any one tastes, he instantly dies. For these men are not the planting of the Father. For if they were, they would appear as branches of the cross, and their fruit would be incorruptible. (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Trallians, Ch. 11)
The real question is, when did the Romish church apostatize from the faith?
No source again......sad.
“Add to that, a vow of celibacy and a vow of poverty being in direct conflict with be fruitful and multiply.”
Celibacy of the clergy in no way stopped Catholics from becoming one seventh of the world’s population. Birth Control is a problem. Celibacy is not. A vow of poverty in no way conflicts with “be fruitful and multiply”. Plenty of poor people are fruitful and multiply. Do you believe Christ and Paul’s celibacy conflicted with “be fruitful and multiply”?
Great post. You put out exactly what I would have said, but in a much better way!
timing I dont have a clue’..
maybe it was the INDULGENCES deal?
That would have been a real deal breaker for me.
“From Clemens Romanus, the alleged Pope you mention, on Sola Fide, Predestination, and the immutability of Gods will:”
Nowhere in the passage did Clement say we are justified by faith alone.
St. Clement of Rome:
“Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.”
First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 30.
You’re very kind!
Are you denying that every day some dolt on this forum claims the Catholic Church fell away from Bible Christianity at the time of Constantine or that Catholicism was invented out of whole cloth at that time?
2) Pederasty ignored with innocents violated, and protecting the perpetrators while abandoning the victims.
3) Call no man Father.
4) Only God can forgive sins.
That said, thank you for keeping literacy and the Word alive in the Dark Ages. And I am happy with being a Protestant. Now can we go back to beating up the devil while he tries to divide the faithful of various stripes? While this thread goes on for several thousand posts, Satan is busy stealing our children. Only a fool fights in a burning house. And, I'm done.
So are you denying that it was a practice of the Catholic Church at the time to sell indulgences? Approved or not, since it went on it was not banned by the Pope at the time it was going on. Priests are men, not God and therefore are inherently fallible regardless of whether they claim they are infallible. The doctrine exists in the Catholic Church, not in the Bible. Third, the Eastern Orthodox churches denied the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the rest of the churches leading to the Pope and the Patriarch excommunicating each other.
Catholics are free to be Catholic and Protestants and Orthodox are free to be what they are without other Christians criticizing. Concentrate on the threats of Islam and Communism rather than trying to question the legitimacy of other Christians.
And, I'm sorry, but did the Church outright move against the practice? When was there an encyclical against the practice and how were the priests who did it punished? I am genuinely asking, because I really know nothing about the way Rome pronounced them wrong, and immediately wiped them out.
You may not be bothered by the whole Mary worship thing... but you wanted to know what bothered protestants, so I told you. I am sure Mary was a nice lady, but point me to where in the scriptures it says that good Christians are imbued after death with magical God like powers to hear the prayers of literally billions of people. I am not buying it. Only God is Omnipotent.
Did you get off the subject or what? LOL!
oh, and please don’t think I am picking on the Catholic Church.
I have been going to a Baptist church for 20+ years and I don’t buy for one second that dancing or drinking in moderation is sinful.
The first assembly of the called out was the household of Abraham, who all left country, kindred and home to cross over at the call of the LORD. Apostasy from that community led Lot to turn his face toward Sodom.
The same turning away was evident within forty days of the children of Israel promising "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." (Exodus 24:7) The Golden Calf incident nearly led to the total obliteration of this particular disobedient ekklesia or "son" which had been called out of Egypt. Only Moses and Joshua would have been spared.
Joshua's renewal of protection (Joshua 1:5) was as contingent upon his effort toward obedience as that of the children at Mt. Horeb:
"Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8,9)"
Skipping ahead to the contemporary assembly that Jesus called out, the apostatic process was evident to Jude who reminded his readers that if the wayward children in the wilderness were not spared, why should their fate following disobedience be different?
The process of turning away is not a singular event in history, rather it is a consequence of the human "sin nature".
The question is from what did those in ancient days turn?
This is a simple one.
February 27, 380 (OS), when all subjects of the Roman Empire were forced by imperial decree to follow the Bishops of Rome and Alexandria. The Church was no longer Jesus Christ’s but a tool of Rome.
It creeps protestants out that the RCC is so obsessed with us. Why are Roman Catholics always peeking in our window? They act like a dumped girlfriend that just won’t let go.
In fact, the negation of works in justification is in the chapter title even provided by Newadvent.org, followed up with the explicit statement in the text “And we... are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith”:
“Chapter 32. We are Justified Not by Our Own Works, But by Faith.”
“Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. Romans 9:5 From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, Your seed shall be as the stars of heaven. All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever.”
It is either a palpable contradiction, though doubtful, considering these two quotes take place from each other just 2 paragraphs apart. But, more than likely, he speaks of a faith shown forth in works, as James taught, as he places the distinction between “works” and “words”, but does not say “not by faith” or “not by faith only”: “being justified by our works, and not our words.” As living faith is that which produces works, and is dead without them, though we are justified by our faith, and not our works.
As Chrysostom observes, if we were justified by our works, “not even a spot” should be found:
For this is [the righteousness] of God when we are justified not by works, (in which case it were necessary that not a spot even should be found,) but by grace, in which case all sin is done away. And this at the same time that it suffers us not to be lifted up, (seeing the whole is the free gift of God,) teaches us also the greatness of that which is given. For that which was before was a righteousness of the Law and of works, but this is the righteousness of God. (John Chrysostom, Homily 11 on Second Corinthians, 2 Cor 5:21)
By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the law of faith? It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows Gods power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. (Homily 7 on Romans III)
How would you like it if I altered your sentence to say: Why are
Roman Catholics Protestants always peeking in our Catholic window? They act like a dumped girlfriend that just wont let go.
See? Absolutely anybody can make broad-brushed, snide, snarky, and fantastically absurd comments that add nothing to the conversation whatsoever. And its equally foolish no matter where its coming from.
I’m curious as to how Catholics suppose there is a delineation of papal authority from Jesus. Jesus tells Peter he will found his church on peters confession. It’s the confession not peter that gives the church it’s power. Paul and Peter hardly agreed apart from this confession. The splintering was immediate and good.
“So are you denying that it was a practice of the Catholic Church at the time to sell indulgences?”
“Approved or not, since it went on it was not banned by the Pope at the time it was going on.”
It was banned. It was, in fact, a violation of canon law to sell indulgences.
“Priests are men, not God and therefore are inherently fallible regardless of whether they claim they are infallible.”
Your statement is illogical. First, say the following words, “George Washington was the first president of the United States.” You just made an infallibly true statement. Thus, to say “men...are inherently fallible” is a logical fallacy. Second, papal infallibility is about the Holy Spirit more than the pope since it is the Holy Spirit who ensures the infallibility. The Holy Spirit is always infallible and has no difficulty sharing His infallibility with the pope when He wishes (and no pope has ever claimed it except in the most narrow of circumstances anyway).
“The doctrine exists in the Catholic Church, not in the Bible.”
False. Infallibility is clearly the underlying standing of all of scripture. It is were not, then no one would ever think that scripture is true. Protestants have always believed in the infallibility of scripture: http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols34-36/chs2013.pdf
“Third, the Eastern Orthodox churches denied the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the rest of the churches leading to the Pope and the Patriarch excommunicating each other.”
False. 1) To impute the actions of one patriarch to all the patriarchs is wrongheaded. 2) The Patriarchs had previously - many times - sought out the pope to solve their disputes - thereby showing they believed in the primacy of the papacy. Read Soloviev’s book for numerous examples of such: http://www.amazon.com/Russian-Church-Papacy-Vladimir-Soloviev/dp/1888992298
“Catholics are free to be Catholic and Protestants and Orthodox are free to be what they are without other Christians criticizing.”
Actually no. We’re all free, but not free from “other Christians criticizing.”
“Concentrate on the threats of Islam and Communism rather than trying to question the legitimacy of other Christians.”
No. Although I would rather have to deal with an eastern world filled with Protestants rather than Muslims, I see no reason not to simply oppose all those who are wrong.
Yeah, that's the ticket.
Bullet hit the bone, huh? I rarely see threads and writings where Protestants are desperately trying to discredit the RCC. With a few extremist exceptions, we generally just pass a catholic church, think it’s Christian, and think no more about them.
On the other hand, we are treated to nearly daily articles written by Catholics. Long and boring ones. They are tedious, and read like supreme court briefs in a securities fraud case.
And they are all designed to use Queeg-like geometric logic to finally PROVE that protestants are all wrong, bad, and in outright rebellion against God.
Yes,,, you are the obsessed chicks. Take our photos down. We are not taking you back! It’s over between us! (but if you’re nice, we can be friends,,,ok?)
We VENERATE Mary and the saints. We ADORE God.
Prayer is a way of communication with God or the saints. As least that is the Catholic definition. What some people may THINK Catholics are doing is a different story. Look it up; that is what prayer is: communication with God and the saints.
I pray to my patron saint, St. Anne, and I pray to Mary to ask them to intercede for me, us, whomever. It's simple COMMUNICATION, nothing more. Sometimes I THANK them too.
Mary has NEVER, ever turned me down for what I have asked for. I've only done it a couple of times in my entire life...for something I REALLY, REALLY wanted.
“Indulgences simply remove the temporal punishment due for past sin . . ..”
I must search my Bible for the source of this teaching, having heretofore been trusting my God-granted faith in the Christ and His vicarious atonement to ensure my salvation, my daily sins, past and future, notwithstanding.
You have pretty much nailed it. Personally I would add the elevation of the Bishop of Rome from first among equals to a Pope with king like temporal powers, but that is a small quibble.
I can’t point to any one moment and shout THERE! THERE IS WHEN THE GREAT APOSTASY OCCURED! but that doesn’t stop me from agreeing that by the time of Luther the Catholic Church had strayed pretty far and was in dire need of reforming.
It’s just a shame that the Catholic hierarchy refused to work with Luther and Melancthon and the rest, and did not get started on their own reforms until after the schism had become permanent.
“So are you denying that it was a practice of the Catholic Church at the time to sell indulgences?
And yet, it was a practice of the Catholic Church to sell indulgences, straight from the Pope himself.
“Pope Leo X (11 December 1475 1 December 1521), born Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest (only a deacon) to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter’s Basilica”
“Leo X, the pope in 1517, needed funds to complete the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Leo entered into an arrangement that essentially sold indulgence franchises that allowed the franchisee to retain about half the funds raised by selling indulgences in return for sending to Rome the other half for Leo’s construction project. To encourage indulgence sales, Albert of Brandenburg, one winner of the privilege of selling indulgences, advertised that his indulgences (issued by the pope) came with a complete remission of sins, allowing escape from all of the pains of purgatory”
“Albert of Brandenburg, already Archbishop of Magdeburg, received in addition the Archbishopric of Mainz and the Bishopric of Hallerstadt, but in return was obliged to collect 10,000 ducats, which he was taxed over and above the usual confirmation fees. To indemnify hiim, and to make it possible to discharge these obligations Rome permitted him to have preached in his territory the plenary indulgence promised all those who contributed to the new St. Peter’s; he was allowed to keep one half the returns, a transaction which brought dishonour on all concerned in it. Added to this, abuses occurred during the preaching of the Indulgence. The money contributions, a mere accessory, were frequently the chief object, and the “Indulgences for the Dead” became a vehicle of inadmissible teachings. That Leo X, in the most serious of all the crises which threatened the Church, should fail to prove the proper guide for her, is clear enough from what has been related above. He recognized neither the gravity of the situation nor the underlying causes of the revolt. Vigorous measures of reform might have proved an efficacious antidote, but the pope was deeply entangled in political affairs and allowed the imperial election to overshadow the revolt of Luther; moreover, he gave himself up unrestrainedly to his pleasures and failed to grasp fully the duties of his high office.”
“The only possible verdict on the pontificate of Leo X is that it was unfortunate for the Church. . . . Leo X is in great measure to blame for the fact that faith in the integrity and merit of the papacy, in its moral and regenerating powers, and even in its good intentions, should have sunk so low that men could declare extinct the old true spirit of the Church.”
Is it time for a grilled cheese sandwich already?
It’s an observation. I am simply noting the behavior I observe. I see daily threads where RCC types post long tomes as to the insanity of anyone being a protestant.
Most share the overthought, vindictive, condescending tone found in dumped girls. It’s also seen in cults like scientology or islam where “apostate” thought is bitterly attacked.
I think it’s a self defense technique. If the one who departed is “proven” to be malevolent, wrong, evil, erroneous, hardheaded, etc,,, then the dumped one must be right and good, and need never look inward.
It's certainly an impressive title, doncha think? Got it from a Catholic, I did. Someone must not have gotten the memo.
“And, I’m sorry, but did the Church outright move against the practice?”
How often does the very slow moving Church move against anything? And the answer is yes - at the Council of Trent.
“When was there an encyclical against the practice and how were the priests who did it punished?”
1) Encyclicals were rarely ever used for disciplinary issues. I can’t think of any, in fact, at the moment.
2) Those who illegally sold indulgences were not merely priests. I think your anti-Catholic prejudice is manifesting itself in a silly anti-clerical form. Also, I do not know what ecclesiastical censures were used against those who sold indulgences. If you read John Tedeschi’s The Prosecution of Heresy, you’ll see he mentions at least one inquisition case against someone for selling indulgences but I no longer recall if he mentions the punishment involved.
“I am genuinely asking, because I really know nothing about the way Rome pronounced them wrong, and immediately wiped them out.”
If you believe “Rome” could ever “immediately wipe...out” anyone, then you have an even deeper prejudice than it first seemed.