The Lutheran leaders threaten to join forces with the Muslims

December 13, 2018

The new heresies had gained adherents in Paris. Calvin was there, and Servet, his future victim; and Rabelais, the precursor of Voltaire. Calvin, who had studied philosophy at the College de Montaigu, had made the rest of his studies at Ste.Barbe, and, while St. Ignatius was there, frequently came thither. He gained many converts to his opinions, and, to the great horror of the Sorbonne, even within its own walls. Among these was Kopp, the Rector of the University, who, lecturing once on the doctrine of justification, so scandalized his audience that they created an uproar in the streets. Kopp hid himself for a time, and then fled from Paris. Calvin was glad to take refuge with a vinedresser in the Faubourg St. Victor, who, giving him his own gown and rake, set him on the road to Nérac, where he was sheltered by Queen Margaret of Navarre.

Philipp Melanchthon.

Francis I, in his zeal for the revival of letters, had, inspite of the remonstrances of the Sorbonne, brought professors of Greek and Hebrew from Germany, who spread the doctrines of Luther and Zwingli. Some professors were needed ; for, according to an almost incredible statement of Galland, “There was not, in the beginning of that reign, a Frenchman who could read Greek or write Latin.” The King’s sisters, Margaret and Rende of France, favored the Protestants at court; the Sacramentarians affixed their theses, the work of Calvin, at the gates of the Louvre, and even on the doors of the King’s apartment in the palace of Blois.

Francis professed indeed the greatest horror of all heresy, to which, probably, he was in reality perfectly indifferent ; but he encouraged literature, which amused him, and he conferred, he thought, a luster upon his reign by these importations from the infected countries, whose influence he could not entirely neutralize, even when he afterwards endeavored to suppress it by most severe measures. St. Ignatius, therefore, had plenty of occupation in confirming the waverers, and in confuting the ideas which had taken possession of erratic minds. Many, when they heard him, wished to be again secure within the true fold; and these he brought before Valentine Leivin, the inquisitor, that they might be reconciled to the Church.

Portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Younger.

It was not surprising that any semblance of novelty was regarded with suspicion, when events were passing which threatened the most serious dislocation that the Christian world had ever yet known. The Lutherans over half Germany had long been in open rebellion; Charles V feared to exasperate them, because he wanted to concentrate his forces against the Turks. The Confession of Augsburg had shown that no compromise could be of any avail; for the Emperor had, in fact, already allowed liberty of worship, proscribing only Anabaptists and Sacramentarians, whose excesses horrified decent men of all parties. Protestants, as well as Catholics, were permitted to preach and explain the Scriptures “in the sense given to them by the Fathers.” The Lutherans were still dissatisfied; in fact, toleration was but a small part of what Luther demanded, and the last thing he was willing to grant.

On the remonstrance of Frederic, Count Palatine, the Protestants reduced their claims to these: — First, communion under both kinds; second, marriage allowed to priests; third, the omission in the mass of the invocation of Saints; fourth, the Church property which had been stolen to remain with the plunderers; fifth, a General Council to be called immediately to decide on other points in dispute. For all this while, and inspite of the insane hatred of Luther against the Pope, a Council to be summoned by him was always demanded by the Protestant party; they were not yet ready to follow their leader, and openly defy the head of the Church.

John Calvin

Melanchthon, in another conference appointed by Charles, when seven persons on each side were to revise and modify the Confession of Augsburg, suggested so many motives and ways for reconciliation, that Luther burst into curses against him. He had agreed with the Catholics on fifteen articles; partially agreed on three more; and the remaining three were allowed to be placed under the head of “abuses.” The points of agreement were important,* and peace might reasonably have been hoped for; but peace was not the aim of those who expected to make their own fortunes in the general disturbance of Germany. Luther and his partisans desired war at any price; and the oil that Melanchthon cast upon the waters was as nothing in the violence of the storm.

The Lutheran leaders, assembled at Smalkald, resolved on resisting the Emperor; the Diet, convened at Cologne to elect his brother, Ferdinand, King of the Romans, gave a new occasion of revolt; they threatened to join their forces to those of Suleimán, who was then invading Austria, if they were opposed in their schemes of religious emancipation. Charles was compelled to sign the peace of Nuremberg; after which, the Protestant chiefs having enabled him to make an imposing display before the walls of Vienna, Suleimán approached, saw, and withdrew without a battle. Charles had an interview with Clement VII, the most unfortunate sovereign in Europe, at Bologna, as the Emperor passed there on his way to Spain. They agreed that a General Council should be summoned. Clement met Francis I, at Marseilles; the marriage of Catharine de’ Medici, the Pope’s niece, with the Duke of Orleans was decided upon; and Clement returned full of satisfaction to Rome. But there he learned that the Turks had besieged Tunis, and were plundering the coasts of Italy; that the Anabaptists had renewed their hateful excesses in Westphalia, and taken Munster. His own family had long embittered his life; the Cardinals de’ Medici and Cosmo, his nephews, were fighting for Florence. The Pope consulted his Cardinals; they could only advise him to negotiate a peace, if possible, between the princes of Christendom, and convoke the Council so long desired.

Pope Clement VII

Clement saw that these measures were now indispensable; and he would have endeavored in sincerity to carry them forward, if life had been granted him; but he was now an old man, and could no longer struggle against so much perplexity and grief. His Holiness took the matter exceedingly to heart, and it was this sorrow and dread that seems to have brought him to the grave.

* Melanchthon allowed “that the Saints intercede for us, and that we may celebrate their memory on certain days; that Our Lord is contained entire under one species ; that certain week-days should be kept holy, and a fast be observed on the vigils of some of these; that faith and justification come by grace, but man has free will. “The Church was eager to reform every abuse, and the Council of Trent was actually legislating against them. Hence the disaffected, who hoped to profit by the suppression of monasteries and the plunder of ecclesiastical property, had no true desire that religious dissensions should be healed.

St. Ignatius Loyola and the early Jesuits, by Stewart Rose 1891, Pgs 178-185

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 656

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