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Father Cantalamessa Lies About Luther

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 31, 2016

He is known as the Preacher to the Papal Household, a position to which he was appointed way back in 1980. But I prefer to think of him as the Heretic to the Papal Household, as my previous columns on this person have illustrated.

And the heresies keep on coming.  This past Good Friday, Cantalamessa delivered a sermon in Saint Peter’s Basilica that seems part and parcel of the Vatican’s insane campaign to “commemorate” the Reformation, culminating in a joint liturgy with Lutheran ministers in Sweden next year in which Francis will participate — yet another sign of the “diabolical disorientation” among the upper hierarchy of which Sister Lucy warned repeatedly.

In his Good Friday sermon Cantalamessa uttered this whopper in praise of the arch-heretic Martin Luther:

“The ‘righteousness of God’ is that by which we are made righteous, just as ‘the salvation of God’ [see Ps 3:8] means the salvation by which he saves us.”[2] In other words, the righteousness of God is that by which God makes those who believe in his Son Jesus acceptable to him. It does not enact justice but makes people just.

Luther deserves the credit for bringing this truth back when its meaning had been lost over the centuries, at least in Christian preaching, and it is this above all for which Christianity is indebted to the Reformation, whose fifth centenary occurs next year….

That is simply an outrageous lie that not only attempts to whitewash one of Luther’s signal errors but dares to give the arch-heretic credit for the very truth he denied but the Church has never ceased to defend.  For it was Luther who promoted the error of a merely “imputed” righteousness of Christ by which, as the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, quoting the Lutheran formula, Christ will merely 

no longer impute to us our sins, but will consider and treat us as if we were really just and holy, although in our inner selves we remain the same sinners as before. Cf. Solid. Declar. III, sec. 15: “Through the obedience of Christ by faith the just are so declared and reputed, although by reason of their corrupt nature they still are and remain, sinners as long as they bear this mortal body.”

The contrast between Protestant and Catholic doctrine here becomes very striking. For according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the righteousness and sanctity which justification confers, although given to us by God as efficient cause (causa efficiens) and merited by Christ as meritorious cause (causa meritoria), become an interior sanctifying quality or formal cause (causa formalis) in the soul itself, which it makes truly just and holy in the sight of God. In the Protestant system, however, remission of sin is no real forgiveness, no blotting out of guilt. Sin is merely cloaked and concealed by the imputed merits of Christ; God no longer imputes it, whilst in reality it continues under cover its miserable existence till the hour of death.

Luther invented his doctrine to justify his own gravely sinful life, including the violation of his priestly vows and his “marriage” to a nun, Katherine von Bora. Tormented by guilt, Luther simply declared that based on a “fiduciary faith” in Christ, Christ imputes His righteousness to the sinner despite a sinner’s continuing depraved existence.

Thus Luther could boast of his own sin: “At home I have good wine and beer and a beautiful wife or (shall I say) lord.” For that matter, we have none other than Francis declaring: “Do I have trust in Christ? Do I boast of the Cross of Christ? Do I boast also of my sins, in this sense?” — a blatantly false reading of Saint Paul’s statement that he boasted of his “infirmities,” not his offenses against God, because God’s grace remedied those infirmities “that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Cor. 12:9).”

Today Luther’s error goes by the slogan “once saved, always saved,” uttered by Protestants who think that contraception, divorce and remarriage and other grave sins cannot cause them to lose eternal salvation because at one moment in time they “accepted Jesus” or “came to Jesus.”

The Council of Trent anathematized Luther’s heresy of a merely “imputed” righteousness, yet Cantalamessa now pretends that Luther not only did not espouse his heresy but rather “rediscovered” the true teaching: that a sinner who is justified by grace truly becomes righteous inwardly, so long as he perseveres in grace, and is not merely “declared” righteous in virtue of the merits of Christ.

What can we say when the “Preacher to the Papal Household” heaps praise on the single worst heretic in the history of the Church, infamous for his moral degeneracy, his filthy mouth, and his hatred of the Mass, the papacy and the Catholic Church herself? What can we say when the Pope, seemingly echoing Luther’s error, proposes to go to Sweden to “commemorate” the life of the destroyer whose heresies shattered the unity of Christendom? We can say that we are witnessing the fulfillment of the Third Secret of Fatima.