Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany, on this day 527 years ago. After studying law
, Martin Luther became a monk. There were a lot of things about the Church of the time that disturbed him. Most of all, he criticised that fact that, in those days, the Church sold so-
called "indulgences". The faithful could use indulgences to buy forgiveness for their sins. On October 31, 1517, in Wittenberg, Martin Luther publicly criticised this sale of indulgences and quite a lot of other things as well. He proclaimed his 95 Theses, which led to a reformation in the Church and marked the beginning of the Protestant Church. He called on the Church to change. Many people in the Church had similar ideas, but the bishops and the pope felt themselves challenged. They called on Luther to retract his Theses. The conflict became more and more intense. For Church leaders at the time, Luther was a provocation. There were heated debates; polemical pamphlets were written. But the conflict was not resolved. The Reformation movement grew in strength; the first beginnings of a "schism" (division) appeared.
The Church, which in those days played an important political role, felt its power threatened. At the Imperial Diet in Regensburg in 1541, an attempt was made to restore the unity of the Church, but in vain. And even the Peace
of Augsburg of 1555 was unable to prevent the schism. Many disastrous theological, political and military conflicts ensued. The Peasants’ War
and the Thirty Years War were the terrible climaxes of this conflict. Then more centuries followed during which the Churches failed to draw closer to one another.
Today, both Churches -
the Roman Catholic and the Protestant -
accept each other. Although there are differences in doctrine, they both try to live together in this world following their Christian faith. In the so-
called "ecumenical movement", people attempt to overcome the division between the Christian Churches and to work together in the Christian faith.
Martin Luther, the German Reformer, died on February 18th, 1546.