Let’s set the stage – the time is 1521.
and his cohorts have pissed off the powers that be within the Catholic Church with the publication of his 95 Theses and the rise of
. The church convenes the
in order to deal with the problem. The
himself has been portrayed in a kinder light. Anyway, here’s what they had to say..
"As it pertains to our office of Roman emperor, not only to enlarge the bounds of the Holy Roman empire, which our fathers of the German nation, founded for the defense of the Holy Roman and Catholic church, subduing unbelievers by the sword, through the divine grace, with much shedding of blood, but also, adhering to the rule hitherto observed by the Holy roman empire, to take care that no stain or suspicion of heresy should contaminate our holy faith with the Roman Empire, or, if heresy had already begun, to extirpate it with all necessary diligence , prudence, and discretion, as the case might demand."
"Therefore we hold that if it was the duty of any of our ancestors to defend the Christian name, much greater is the obligation on us…
Certain heresies have sprung up in the German nation within the last three years, which were formerly condemned by the holy councils and papal decrees, with the consent of the whole Church, are now drawn anew from hell; should we permit them to become more deeply rooted, or , by our negligence, tolerate and bear with them, our conscience would be greatly burdened, and the future glory of our name would be covered by a dark cloud in the auspicious beginnings of our reign."
"Since now without a doubt it is plain to you all how far these errors and heresies depart from the Christian way, which a certain Martin Luther, of the Augustinian order, has sought violently and virulently to introduce and disseminate within the Christian religion and its established order, especially in the German nation, which is renowned as a perpetual destroyer of all unbelief and heresy; so, that, unless it is speedily prevented, the whole German nation, and later all other nations, will be infected by this same disorder, and mighty dissolution and pitiable downfall of good morals, and the peace and the Christian faith, will result…"
"And although, after delivery of the papal bull and the final condemnation of Luther, we proclaimed the bull in many places in the German nation, as well as our Burgundian lands. And especially it execution at Cologne, Trier, Mainz, and Liege, nevertheless Martin Luther has taken no account of it, nor lessened nor revoked his errors, nor sought absolution from hi Papal Holiness or grace from the holy Christian church; but like a madman plotting the manifest destruction of the holy Church, he daily scatters abroad much worse fruit and effect of his depraved heart and mind through very numerous books."
"Therein he destroys, overturns and abuses the number, arrangement and use of the seven sacraments, received and held for so many centuries by the holy Church, and in astonishing ways shamefully pollutes the indissoluble bonds of holy matrimony; and says also that holy unction is a mere invention. He desires also to adapt our customs and practices in the administration of the most holy sacrament of the holy Eucharist to the habit and custom of the condemned Bohemians. And he begins to attack confession – most wholesome for the hearts that are polluted or laden with sins – declaring that no profit or consolation can be expected from it…
He not only holds the priestly office and order in contempt, but also urges secular and lay persons to bathe their hand in the blood of priests; and he uses scurrilous and shameful words against the chief priest of our Christian fait, the successor of St. Peter and the true vicar of Christ on earth, and pursues him with manifold and unprecedented attacks and invectives. He demonstrates also from the heathen poets that there is no free will, because all things are determined by immutable decree."
"And he writes that the mass confers no benefit on him, for whom it is celebrated. Moreover he overthrows the custom of fasting and prayer, established by the holy Church and hitherto maintained. Especially does he impugn the authority of the holy fathers, as they are received by the Church, and would destroy obedience and authority of every kind. Indeed, he writes nothing which does not arouse and promote sedition, discord, war, murder, robbery, and arson, and tend toward the complete downfall of the Christian faith. For he teaches a loose, self-willed life, severed from all laws and wholly brutish: and he is a loose and self-willed man, who condemns and rejects all laws; for he has shown no fear or shame in burning publicly the decretals and canon law…"
"He does not blush to speak publicly against holy councils, and to abuse and insult them at will. Especially has he everywhere bitterly attacked the Council of Constance with his foul mouth, and calls it a synagogue of Satan, to the shame and disgrace of the whole Church and of the German nation…And he has fallen into such madness of spirit as to boast that if Huss were a heretic, then he is ten times a heretic."
"But all the other innumerable wickednesses of Luther must, for brevity’s sake, remain unreckoned. This fellow appears to be not so much a man as the wicked demon in the form of a man and under a monk’s cowl. He has collected many heresies of the worst heretics, long since condemned and forgotten, together with some newly invented ones, in one stinking pool, under the pretext of preaching faith, in which he extols with so great industry in order that he may ruin the true and genuine faith…"
"And now, particularly on account of these things, we have summoned here to Worms the electors, princes, and estates of this our Holy Empire, and carefully examined the aforesaid matters with great diligence, as evident necessity demands, and with unanimous advice and consent of all we decree what follows."
"Although one so condemned and persisting in his obstinate perversity, separated from the rites of the Christian Church and a manifest heretic, is denied a hearing under all law; nevertheless, to prevent all unprofitable dispute…we, through our herald, gave him safe conduct to come hither, in order that he might be questioned in our own presence and in that of the electors, princes and estates of the empire; whether he had composed the boos which were then laid before his eyes…"
"And as soon as these books were enumerated, he acknowledged then as his own, and moreover declared that he would never deny them. And he also says that he has made many other books, which we have not mentioned herein because we have no knowledge of them…"
"Accordingly, in view of all these considerations and the fact that Martin Luther still persists obstinately and perversely in maintaining his heretical opinions, and consequently all pious and God fearing persons abominate and abhor his as one mad or possessed by a demon…we have declared and made known that the said Martin Luther shall hereafter be held and esteemed by each and all of us as a limb cut off from the Church of God, and obstinate, schismatic and manifest heretic…"
"We strictly order that immediately after the expiration of the appointed twenty days, terminating on the fourteenth of May, you shall refuse to give the aforesaid Martin Luther hospitality, lodging, food, or drink; neither shall anyone, by word or deed, secretly or openly, succour or assist him by counsel or help; but in whatever place you meet him, you shall proceed against him; if you have sufficient force, you shall take him prisoner and keep him in close custody, you shall deliver him, or cause him to be delivered, to us or at least let us know where he may be captured. In the meanwhile you shall keep him closely imprisoned until you receive notice from us what further to do, according to the direction of the laws. And for such holy and pious work we will indemnify you for your trouble and expense."
"In like manner you shall proceed against his friends adherents, patrons, maintainers, abettors, sympathizers, emulators, and followers. And the property of these, whether person or real, you shall, in virtue of the sacredordinances and our imperial ban and over-ban, treat in this way; namely, you shall attack and overthrow its possessors and wrest their property from them and transfer it to your own custody and uses; no shall hinder or impede these measures, unless the owner shall abandon his unrighteous way and secure papal absolution."
"Consequently, we command you, each and all, under the penalties already prescribed, that henceforth no one shall dare to buy, sell, read, preserve, copy, print, or cause to be copied or printed, any books of the aforesaid Martin Luther, condemned by our holy father the Pope as aforesaid, or any other writings in German or Latin hitherto composed by him, since they are foul, harmful, suspected and proclaimed by a notorious and stiffnecked heretic. Neither shall any dare to approve his opinions, nor proclaim, defend, or assert them, in any other way the human ingenuity can invent, notwithstanding he may have put some good in them to deceive the simple man."