Skip to comments.Vatican backs plan to name Rome square for Martin Luther
Posted on 08/26/2015 7:08:13 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum
ROME (RNS) The Vatican has given its backing to a central Rome square being named after Martin Luther, a church reformer excommunicated by the pope nearly 500 years ago.
A German Catholic priest and theologian, Luther was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation and sparked considerable controversy by challenging the authority of the Catholic Church. He denounced the corruption he saw among clergy in Rome and believed salvation came through faith alone views that did not sit well with Pope Leo X.
Luther was excommunicated in 1521 and was never allowed to return to the Catholic Church, but now the Vaticans views have changed.
Next month a hilltop square in Rome is due to be named Piazza Martin Lutero, in memory of Luthers achievements. The site chosen is the Oppian Hill, a park area that overlooks the Colosseum.
The move has been six years in a making, following a request made by the Seventh-day Adventists, a Protestant denomination, Italian daily La Repubblica said. The original plan was to inaugurate the square in time for the 500th anniversary of Luthers historic trip to Rome in 2010. City officials were not able to discuss the process behind naming the square or the reason for the holdup.
Despite Luther being thrown out of the Catholic Church during his lifetime, the Vatican reacted positively to news of the squares upcoming inauguration. Its a decision taken by Rome city hall which is favorable to Catholics in that its in line with the path of dialogue started with the ecumenical council, said the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, deputy director of the Vatican press office, referring to a gathering of churchmen to rule on faith matters.
The move contrasts sharply from views held by Luther around the time of his visit to Rome, when it was said he repeated the saying, If there is a hell, Rome is built over it.
Dialogue between Lutherans a Protestant denomination that follows Luthers teachings and the Catholic Church was cemented in a document signed by bishops of the two churches in 2013. Pope Francis has also shown an openness to different churches, earlier this year supporting the need for a more unified Christian voice in Europe.
But within Italy there are very few Protestants; just 435,000 Italian citizens identify as Protestant, according to research published in 2012 by the Center for Studies on New Religions. Catholicism continues to be the dominant religion, with 97.9 percent of Italys 60 million residents having been baptized Catholic as of 2009.
Not this one.
We’re not sure with the current one. He acts more like a unitarian.
I am surprised the Vatican under this Pope didn’t approve a memorial to Marx, Lenin, and Che Guevara. I suppose they’ll get around to it.
And when is the gay night-club opening?
Ya’know, inclusion and all that.
They shouldn’t object to it. Back in those days they were dead wrong about the things he listed.
Zing! There it is!
What I don’t get, is why there? In Germany, ok. But is there some reason this location in Rome was chosen? Some Luther connection?
If not, this seems to just be sticking in the eye of people.
He had some legitimate grievances (which the Church had to address), but in the end he was neurotic about his own soul and strayed far from Christ’s teachings regarding salvation.
Well, personally I think he was closer to the truth that the Roman church. That’s why I’m a protestant. But what I don’t get, is why his statue is being built in Rome. Did Luther have a connection to that area where they are proposing this?
Did he live there? Study there? etc,,,
It seems to just be antagonistic. I doubt anyone would build a statue of Leo X in Wittenberg.
As to his neurosis, personally he is a flawed guy in many ways. I honestly doubt any of the players then would approve of ANY Christian denomination today, Roman catholic or protestant.
The move contrasts sharply from views held by Luther around the time of his visit to Rome, when it was said he repeated the saying, "If there is a hell, Rome is built over it."I just love sectarian turmoil, but this is a great quote, regardless.
Francis is trying to reform the reformation and bring Protestant churches back under Rome’s umbrella. Knowing how messed up the church is, his ploy just might work!
This square isn’t in Vatican City; it is in Rome itself. They can name their streets however they wish.
I conceded he had valid points (which the Church had to address in the Counter-Reformation); the fact that there are different Lutheran denominations today with huge differences in theology is the most basic of his flaws. When you’re born rebelling against authority, good luck trying to assert any later...
Some Lutheran denominations resulted from the desire to conduct services in English rather than German. That wasn't theology. In recent times, factions like the ELCA wanted to be more "I'm OK, you're OK" so that they could have female and most recently homo pastors. The Wisconsin and Missouri Synod churches are still pretty straight-laced Lutherans, adhering very closely with Luther's doctrine.
Some of us Lutherans are just real sorry that the ELCA imagines itself to be Lutheran.
I was talking more about the clergy issues than the language; both sides simply can’t be correct.
I understand that Rome is not Vatican City. I further understand that the City of Rome can name a square or street whatever they please.
And I do not care to discuss Luther’s reforms per se.
I simply said I am a protestant. I don’t really care about him or if he was able to assert authority later. There is little point in replacing a Roman C Pope, with an ersatz Protestant pope. I don’t think the point of his reform was to assert some new authority.
But all of those things aside. Rome is correctly viewed as a heavily Catholic city with a very thin Protestant tradition. So my question, as simple as I know to ask it is; even though Rome obviously has the right, why is it naming this square after the Catholic churches chief opponent? It just seems odd.
It would be like building a statue of Sheridan somewhere in Atlanta.
If you can take off the apologetic blinders for a moment, you might notice that I as a Protestant, am basically arguing that this Luther Square seems antagonistic to a large predominantly Catholic city.
I understood your point completely (without blinders); I guess I should have responded by saying a statue of Sherman (or Philip Sheridan) would be completely appropriate in Atlanta if the population was pro-Yankee at some point down the road.
Rome hasn’t been “Catholic” in half a century; any American Lutheran (or any other Protestant) would feel quite at home there.
51 million Catholics. 725k protestants. Around a million and a half other orthodox.
That’s the breakdown in Italy currently. My point stands. You are simply being contrary.
I'm a Catholic and I agree with you, it seems bizarre to name some location in Rome in honor of Martin Luther (especially given all the anti-Rome comments that Luther made during his lifetime).