The RCC Claim

Josiah

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Hope1960

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Albion

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Doesn’t the RCC claim that much of what they teach about this (as well as other things) Tradition? How can we refute that?
Hello, Hope.

While Matthew 16:18 is normally cited these days as 'proof' of Christ making Peter the head of his church, ordinary tradition doesn't support it. The Early Church Fathers, often referred to as authoritative by the RCC, are all over the place in their comments about who, if anyone, might be some kind of natural "leader" in the church.

Some said Peter, but others said Peter and Paul jointly. Still others said John, or James, or even three of the above-mentioned jointly. And the bishops of Rome themselves did not cite Matthew 16:18 as evidence for their claims until 300 or so years later, and the very idea of a Papacy did not emerge until about that time.

If we turn from the ECF's to the church in general, there is evidence of the bishop of Rome being respected from the mid-first century onward...but for non theological reasons. The diocese of Rome was the largest and wealthiest of all Christian dioceses at that time; and the city of Rome (the "Eternal City") and seat of government in the Empire was of course more influential than other Christian centers. Naturally, the bishop had influence for those reasons.

If we really insist upon tradition deciding the matter, all of the above notwithstanding, then what do we say about the Eastern churches which never, ever agreed to any one bishop being the head of the universal church? We are accustomed to the Orthodox Eastern churches denouncing that view, but those successors of the Apostles always did!

So by the RCC's own definition of tradition, the Papal claims are refuted.

In addition, even if one were persuaded to think that Peter was made some sort of Pope by Christ, nothing whatsoever is said about successors taking over after Peter's death and passing the role on to their own successors! That, as we might expect, is never discussed by the Church, but just left to be assumed. Apostolic Succession is supported in various ways, but the passing on of a Papal role is not. In fact, the immediate successor to Peter as bishop of Rome, St. Linus, was not even in Rome at the time and had not been named as successor or consecrated by Peter. The townspeople liked him and simply installed him on their own.
 

Hope1960

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Did Luther disagree with the belief in the succession of popes?
 

Josiah

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Hello, Hope.

While Matthew 16:18 is normally cited these days as 'proof' of Christ making Peter the head of his church, ordinary tradition doesn't support it. The Early Church Fathers, often referred to as authoritative by the RCC, are all over the place in their comments about who, if anyone, might be some kind of natural "leader" in the church.

Some said Peter, but others said Peter and Paul jointly. Still others said John, or James, or even three of the above-mentioned jointly. And the bishops of Rome themselves did not cite Matthew 16:18 as evidence for their claims until 300 or so years later, and the very idea of a Papacy did not emerge until about that time.

If we turn from the ECF's to the church in general, there is evidence of the bishop of Rome being respected from the mid-first century onward...but for non theological reasons. The diocese of Rome was the largest and wealthiest of all Christian dioceses at that time; and the city of Rome (the "Eternal City") and seat of government in the Empire was of course more influential than other Christian centers. Naturally, the bishop had influence for those reasons.

If we really insist upon tradition deciding the matter, all of the above notwithstanding, then what do we say about the Eastern churches which never, ever agreed to any one bishop being the head of the universal church? We are accustomed to the Orthodox Eastern churches denouncing that view, but those successors of the Apostles always did!

So by the RCC's own definition of tradition, the Papal claims are refuted.

In addition, even if one were persuaded to think that Peter was made some sort of Pope by Christ, nothing whatsoever is said about successors taking over after Peter's death and passing the role on to their own successors! That, as we might expect, is never discussed by the Church, but just left to be assumed. Apostolic Succession is supported in various ways, but the passing on of a Papal role is not. In fact, the immediate successor to Peter as bishop of Rome, St. Linus, was not even in Rome at the time and had not been named as successor or consecrated by Peter. The townspeople liked him and simply installed him on their own.


Yup.

Nice job, Albion.



.
 

Castle Church

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Did Luther disagree with the belief in the succession of popes?
At first Luther was OK with the idea of a Pope, but as his theology progressed he went the opposite direction. In general Lutherans don't understand Apostolic Succession, and by extension the Papacy, in the same manner as Catholics or Orthodox. As to whether Luther agreed with the succession from Peter on, I am not sure that there was enough information at that time for him to give a solid belief.
 

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At first Luther was OK with the idea of a Pope, but as his theology progressed he went the opposite direction. In general Lutherans don't understand Apostolic Succession, and by extension the Papacy, in the same manner as Catholics or Orthodox. As to whether Luther agreed with the succession from Peter on, I am not sure that there was enough information at that time for him to give a solid belief.
Luther was focused on greed alone.
 

Hope1960

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At first Luther was OK with the idea of a Pope, but as his theology progressed he went the opposite direction. In general Lutherans don't understand Apostolic Succession, and by extension the Papacy, in the same manner as Catholics or Orthodox. As to whether Luther agreed with the succession from Peter on, I am not sure that there was enough information at that time for him to give a solid belief.
Thanks!
 

Josiah

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At first Luther was OK with the idea of a Pope, but as his theology progressed he went the opposite direction. In general Lutherans don't understand Apostolic Succession, and by extension the Papacy, in the same manner as Catholics or Orthodox. As to whether Luther agreed with the succession from Peter on, I am not sure that there was enough information at that time for him to give a solid belief.


Luther was originally Catholic (big "C") so "at first" Luther was "okay" with lots of unique Catholic teachings.

Luther had no issues with a denomination having an episcopal government (many Lutheran denominations also have this). But he rejected the calim of Papal Infallibility (as do all the Eastern Orthodox Churches). And he rejected that the idea that the current Pope is "the Vicar of Christ" (based on the whole unique RCC spin on Matthew 16:18).

You are correct, his personal view on Apostolic Succession is not clear, it's not a subject he addressed much. Of course, the CLAIM Catholic clergy make is .... well..... meaningless. NONE can "trace" some succession in an office all the way back to Jesus, those "lists" some create are pure myth. There were precious few such records for the first 300 years of Christianity (THREE HUNDRED YEARS!) and not so great for another 500 after that. And so what? We CAN trace all who have served as President of the USA since our current constitution took affect, so what? Does that mean ERGO Joe Biden is The infallible, unaccountable, Lord over all? No, it just means he's the latest one to serve in an OFFICE and we can objectively prove who served in that office before him, with no "gaps." So what? Historically, we know that the usual rubric was only the ordained ordain... this is just as true in Protestantism as in The Catholic Church. So, there is (likely) a "chain" of being ordained by those ordained going back to Jesus; this equally true for the clergy in Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist churches - and well beyond, all where ordination is by the ordained. But do we have objective historical lists contemporary to each ordination for every one? Nope.




To the thread...




.



.
 

Castle Church

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Luther was originally Catholic (big "C") so "at first" Luther was "okay" with lots of unique Catholic teachings.

Luther had no issues with a denomination having an episcopal government (many Lutheran denominations also have this). But he rejected the calim of Papal Infallibility (as do all the Eastern Orthodox Churches). And he rejected that the idea that the current Pope is "the Vicar of Christ" (based on the whole unique RCC spin on Matthew 16:18).

You are correct, his personal view on Apostolic Succession is not clear, it's not a subject he addressed much. Lutherans, generally, have no issues with an OFFICE going back to Jesus, thus one serving "in succession" in an OFFICE. What is rejected is that idea that thus that PERSON has some level of unaccountability or lordship over others. And of course, the CLAIM Catholic clergy make is .... well..... meaningless. NONE can "trace" some succession in an office all the way back to Jesus, those "lists" some create are pure myth. There were precious few such records for the first 300 years of Christianity (THREE HUNDRED YEARS!) and not so great for another 500 after that. And so what? We CAN trace all who have served as President of the USA since our current constitution took affect, so what? Does that mean ERGO Joe Biden is The infallible, unaccountable, Lord over all? No, it just means he's the latest one to serve in an OFFICE and we can objectively prove who served in that office before him, with no "gaps." Historically, we know that the usual rubric was only the ordained ordain... this is just as true in Protestantism as in The Catholic Church. So, there is (likely) a "chain" of being ordained by those ordained going back to Jesus. But do we have objective historical lists contemporary to each ordination for every one? Nope.
That's a pretty good summary of the Lutheran position, thanks for taking the time for it. I like the term that is often used to account for the unaccountable: "shrouded in antiquity" or "shrouded in mystery".
 

Hope1960

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At first Luther was OK with the idea of a Pope, but as his theology progressed he went the opposite direction. In general Lutherans don't understand Apostolic Succession, and by extension the Papacy, in the same manner as Catholics or Orthodox. As to whether Luther agreed with the succession from Peter on, I am not sure that there was enough information at that time for him to give a solid belief.
Hello, Hope.

While Matthew 16:18 is normally cited these days as 'proof' of Christ making Peter the head of his church, ordinary tradition doesn't support it. The Early Church Fathers, often referred to as authoritative by the RCC, are all over the place in their comments about who, if anyone, might be some kind of natural "leader" in the church.

Some said Peter, but others said Peter and Paul jointly. Still others said John, or James, or even three of the above-mentioned jointly. And the bishops of Rome themselves did not cite Matthew 16:18 as evidence for their claims until 300 or so years later, and the very idea of a Papacy did not emerge until about that time.

If we turn from the ECF's to the church in general, there is evidence of the bishop of Rome being respected from the mid-first century onward...but for non theological reasons. The diocese of Rome was the largest and wealthiest of all Christian dioceses at that time; and the city of Rome (the "Eternal City") and seat of government in the Empire was of course more influential than other Christian centers. Naturally, the bishop had influence for those reasons.

If we really insist upon tradition deciding the matter, all of the above notwithstanding, then what do we say about the Eastern churches which never, ever agreed to any one bishop being the head of the universal church? We are accustomed to the Orthodox Eastern churches denouncing that view, but those successors of the Apostles always did!

So by the RCC's own definition of tradition, the Papal claims are refuted.

In addition, even if one were persuaded to think that Peter was made some sort of Pope by Christ, nothing whatsoever is said about successors taking over after Peter's death and passing the role on to their own successors! That, as we might expect, is never discussed by the Church, but just left to be assumed. Apostolic Succession is supported in various ways, but the passing on of a Papal role is not. In fact, the immediate successor to Peter as bishop of Rome, St. Linus, was not even in Rome at the time and had not been named as successor or consecrated by Peter. The townspeople liked him and simply installed him on their own.
So why does the RCC insist otherwise? Coming from a Catholic background, the Catholics are insistent of their beliefs about this and other things.
 

Albion

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So why does the RCC insist otherwise? Coming from a Catholic background, the Catholics are insistent of their beliefs about this and other things.
Well, Hope, why do a dozen other denominations make the same claim (using, of course, other Bible verses or somewhat different reasoning)?

Many denominations want to be seen as the real and only one. It's that simple.

And the more that other churches claim legitimacy, it tends to take away from the standing of the other one. It's a rivalry. Call it a human failing, perhaps. Or pride. But it does build loyalty among the membership of such church bodies, and that is important.

I am sure that you know Catholics who disagree with all sorts of policies and beliefs that their church stands for...and yet they remain at least nominal Catholics rather than become a functioning member of another Christian church, and that's because they are stuck on the "one true church" idea that's been preached to them repeatedly. Any other denomination doesn't feel right to them, even if they are not believing Catholics. If they leave the one, true church, they fear damnation for that reason alone.

But to give the Catholic Church its due, the church can trace its origins to the first century. Many other denominations cannot do that, unless they claim a connection only in principle.

The problem is, though, that about ten other denominations can make the same claim as the Catholic Church does about their founding and history, and a few of these have a possibly stronger claim than the RCC about when they were founded.
 

Castle Church

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So why does the RCC insist otherwise? Coming from a Catholic background, the Catholics are insistent of their beliefs about this and other things.
Well, as Albion said, it is because the RCC can trace their origins back to the 1st century, and with a reasonable claim to the apostles and Peter. While the claim has historic debatably, the mere fact that it can be debated means there is at least some reason to believe the claim.

Can other Churches make a similar claim? Sure, and they do. Most stick to the idea that their church holds "the fullness of faith", which leaves some wiggle room as to what truths the other churches do still hold. In the end the RCC is probably more kind to the possibility that Orthodox and Protestants could be "saved", many Protestants are quick to damn the Apostolic churches (particularly Catholics) based on a number of reasons.

In the end we need to look at more than just the claims. Does it hold water with history, scripture and theology? The RCC almost certainly over-states the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the 1-3rd centuries, but there are also decent evidence that he did hold more authority than other Bishops. Perhaps a "first among equals" position.

So then the question should not really end with if we believe the claim to antiquity, but rather if the church in question holds "the fullness of faith" as best as we can tell. Personally I think that it has to be the Apostolic churches, and I also believe the Catholic and Orthodox churches are the Two Lungs of the faith.
 

Albion

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In the end the RCC is probably more kind to the possibility that Orthodox and Protestants could be "saved", many Protestants are quick to damn the Apostolic churches (particularly Catholics) based on a number of reasons.

The RCC almost certainly over-states the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the 1-3rd centuries, but there are also decent evidence that he did hold more authority than other Bishops. Perhaps a "first among equals" position.
I don't want to disagree for no good reason, but I have to question the accuracy of both of these ^ claims.
 

Josiah

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So then the question should not really end with if we believe the claim to antiquity, but rather if the church in question holds "the fullness of faith" as best as we can tell.


With that, I fully agree.....



The issue is not (IMO) how old a denomination is (as if age = right) or how big a denomination is ( as if size = right) but what that denomination (via the congregations that make it up) TEACHES in doctrine and DOES in practice.


I think the Roman Catholic Church is a very fine institution (whether it's 1000 years old or 2000 years old).... I'm very glad I grew up there, I probably agree with 95% of the 2,865 points in my Catholic Catechism, and I love the liturgy and approach in Catholic worship. I also so respect how this denomination stands so strong for life and so much more. Do I agree with its FOUNDATIONAL claim about being infallible and founded by Jesus and THE church (at least in fullness), no. Do I agree with all of its dogmas? No. And of course, I left that denomination and I'm now Lutheran (LCMS). But there IS much that is right and good in that denomination. I could say the same for several others.


Blessings!


- Josiah



Refreshing to see how CH can have such a discussion without the rabid mutual hatred and mud-slinging and the old myths thrown at each other that are just plain wrong. We are CH.



,
 

Castle Church

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I don't want to disagree for no good reason, but I have to question the accuracy of both of these ^ claims.
Well, the first is more or less opinion, so we can certainly "agree to disagree" on that. The second claim is supportable based on the letters of St. Clement, among other reasons....but it is also debatable.

I honestly think both of my claims are entirely debatable for being correct and incorrect. If they were not debatable points then there would be a lot more unity in the churches and a lot more convinced people on both sides.

You could argue in disagreement and I would not hold it against you, or your evidence. I look at the evidence and draw the conclusion I have, others will look at the same evidence and draw the opposite conclusion, but we are still brothers in Christ.
 

Albion

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Well, the first is more or less opinion, so we can certainly "agree to disagree" on that.
Yes, I recognize that it's an opinion being offered, but really, although there are thousands of Protestant denominations, which makes any generalization difficult, I think that the "one true churches" are less willing to consider Protestants fellow believers than they often claim. The RCC won't even refer to Protestant denominations as churches, preferring to use instead the contrived term "ecclesial communities!"

Meanwhile, it's a fundamental with Protestants of almost all varieties, that being a true believer transcends denominational affiliation. I know a few Protestants who don't want to concede that to Roman Catholics, but those people usually aren't well received by other Protestants when that kind of talk starts.

The second claim is supportable based on the letters of St. Clement, among other reasons....but it is also debatable.
Sure, it's debatable, but Clement was promoting himself! Surely, you don't think that's very strong evidence.
You could argue in disagreement and I would not hold it against you, or your evidence. I look at the evidence and draw the conclusion I have, others will look at the same evidence and draw the opposite conclusion, but we are still brothers in Christ.
Well, I don't want to argue it, if truth be told. I just wanted to add that footnote--to keep the record straight, even as I appreciated your message overall.
 
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NathanH83

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I think that there are things Catholics get right, and Protestants get wrong.

But I also think there are things Protestants get right that Catholics get wrong.

And then I think there are things that both get wrong, and things that both get right.
 

Josiah

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Greenscapular, Albion, Hezekiah, Lamm



NOTE: In order to not "hijack" this good thread, this was made into a new thread by the poster.

HERE: Christianity, Authority and Individualism





I don't want to derail a good thread, BUT now as a Protestant, there IS an issue that concerns me... one I DO think the Reformers unintentionally, unwillingly (and unfortunately) are perhaps guilty of.


It's the issue of AUTHORITY (a very, very big.... indeed HUGE... word in the RCC denomination). Until the Reformation (and the Renaissance), the issue is WHO/WHAT is the teaching authority for Christians? WHO/WHAT? Christians are to submit to WHO/WHAT? CCC like #85 and 87 flow from this pre-Renaissance, pre-modern mentality). And the "answer" that the ECF's (and Christians generally until the Renaissance and "modern" era) was "The Church." Jesus gave us the church.... the Holy Spirit guides the church.... WE (all Christians - including the bishops) are to submit to "the church." Perhaps even "with docility."


Now, historically, there was SOME sense of "the church" as US.... all of US.... the one, holy, catholic church, the communion and community and family of ALL believers, together (the Protestant point). But there was ALSO (along with this) a sense of "the church" as visible, institutional, "in the world but not of the world" that can speak and act in visible ways even non-Christians can "see" and "hear." In the EAST, these two come together (meet) in the Seven Ecumenical Councils (and really, only then) as the WHOLE church, the entire church catholic, audiably speaks. Otherwise, the church cannot. But in the WEST, this increasingly became an issue of DENOMINATION, which denomination is the lord over all, the ruling body, "the church" in all its fullness (and power, that being the point). For nearly a century, this was just a power struggle between East (the patriarchs) and the West (the Pope) as East and West ever grew further apart. Functionally, these became separate (and warring) denominations but careful to at least theoretically be one since there can be only one "visible" church. All that crashed in 1054. But for the EAST, this was not a crisis - the church still exists, unharmed... it's just that now ecumenical councils are impossible and "the church" can no longer speak. In the WEST, with its very denominational emphasis, it was a case of screaming "But I"M 'the church'.... obey ME!"


BUT still remaining in both East and West was that "the church" is the authority.... individual Christians theoretically needed to choose WHICH was "the church" (increasingly hard as the two grew further apart). Which of course, opened a whole can of worms! SELF chooses!!! "The church" remained the Authority.... individual Christians submitted to "the church" and docilicly listened to "the church' BUT they chose which one. This was a paradigm shift that 1054 created. I realize no one actually chose, they were born into one or the other... and laity were often completely unaware of the alternatives but still there was this paradigm shift, this emphasis that self (or the individual king who ruled there) chooses.


IMO, I wonder if all the Reformers simply fell into this, this situation East and West necessitated by their mutual excommunications in 1054, five centuries earlier? I think of Luther's "here I stand" speech, which strikes me as a very modern speech... King Henry's (more Eastern perspective) that he could create his own denomination (a more western perspective). The Reformation is an extension of this "you choose" mentality 1054 created.


Now, it's extremely interesting that Luther himself decried this (even though it seems to ME his whole movement depended on it). He STRESSED the unity of "the church" ... he stressed the Ecumenical Councils and church history..... he repudiated individual "feelings" and radical views that had no "legs" in the whole of the church catholic..... he felt (passionately) that where he diverged from Tradition (ecumenical ... Luther had a more Eastern than Western view of Tradition) then he had a VERY high bar to meet, he better make a STRONG case from Scripture AND Tradition... for Luther, going BACK to Scripture and "the church" mattered - not his feelings. The Spirit speaks to US, not ME. But I'm not sure this rant of Luther's was heard. Luther was very critical of the "radicals" who seemed to look in the mirror, to their own opinions, their own feelings of how the Spirit lead THEM (self). Again, I think of Luther's "Here I Stand" speech..... was Luther in a sense guilty of the very thing he repudiated? Or was he trying to hold onto a tension that he felt others ignored?


Now, it's all self. It's not a matter of submitting to an authority OUTSIDE self but to SELF. Self listening to self, self submitting to self. "What do I think? How do I feel? We decry the egotistical claims that the RCC made in the Middle Ages and Reformation..... while making even bigger ones for SELF. The individualism that entered things in the Renaissance now entered Christianity (IMO more than Luther realized). And this got a HUGE kick in the Enlightenment, becoming very extreme. The EAST largely avoided this (immune from both the Renaissance and Enlightenment) until recently...now it's there, too. SELF appoints SELF to CHOOSE. Self is the authority. Self is the one God leads. Self is the smart one, the good one. SELF will listen to the voices.... glean from such what SELF chooses to glean... and create the Religion of Self. MUCH of Christianity today is like going to a cafeteria.... self chooses his own unique plate from what is offered. And in this age of the internet, what is offered is vast. YES, the Protestant will talk about the Authority of Scripture! And to Luther, the interpretation and application of such is largely a matter of TRADITION but that's been lost in most of Protestantism, so insisting SCRIPTURE is the Authority doesn't mean a whole lot when self insists that self is the one who knows what God MEANT to say in the Bible (even if He obviously didn't). Read just about any thread at any website like CH and you see this all the time.


This is just as true in Catholicism as it is in Protestantism, IN SPITE OF the constant mantra of The Catholic Church to the contrary, the loud and ever-present call of that denomination to submit to IT. The deacon at my Catholic parish said that probably 10% of Catholics are Catholics (meaning they submit to IT), the rest are what he called "cafeteria Catholics." I think he's probably right. I think it's worse in Protestantism (where it's 0% submit to the denomination - often not even the clergy).


This radical individualism.... this appointment of self ... this coronation of the brain of self.... has lead to the fractionalization of Christianity... self is the authority of self. It's a very modern view. And Christians have bought into it - hook, line and sinker.


IMO, Luther sensed a need for balance, for tension, for great care. His emphasis on humility ("Humility is the foundation of all good theology), his emphasis on Tradition (in a more Eastern than RCC one), his frequent quotes of the 7 Ecumenical Councils and Fathers, the high bar he set for when it even appeared he was diverting from history.... they all show a respect for Authority OUTSIDE self. On the other hand, his embrace of accountability. his awareness that error can happen even at the top, lead him to reject a blind docility to raw power exempting self from accountability. It's a honorable thing.... but I'm not sure how "doable" it is.... I'm not even sure how good Luther was at this. And yup, seems to me the vast majority of the worlds 70 million Lutherans are "Cafeteria Lutherans."


What do you think?


Josiah





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Albion

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I'd say that the ideal is of course preferable. It would be wonderful if the whole Christian world were happily in order and working together under one form of leadership or another. But that's the way humans are--flawed. And so they do not necessarily do what's best.

But on the other hand, we cannot argue that they/we ought to submit to administrative orderliness at the expense of truth.

During the Reformation, needed reforms could have been made, but the Papacy would not make them. And the reason wasn't purely theological, either. Then, as in more recent years, the Papacy's responses were driven by the desire to retain power.

So what happened was that the Papacy and the Medieval Church as it was in 1500 refused to cull out the corrupt practices that had gradually been introduced into the life of the Church in the previous several centuries and so willed itself to be fractured.

Ultimately the Roman Catholic Church tacitly agreed with almost every concern that the leading reform movements had raised, thus proving that reforms SHOULD have been made then and, probably also, that doing so at that time might have preserved the basic unity of the Church.
 
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