Continued from previous post –
Support for the excommunicated monk is so strong among German knights that the young emperor, Charles V, is prevailed upon to hear his case at a diet held in 1521 in Worms. Luther is given a safe conduct for his journey to and from the diet. He is no doubt aware of the value of an imperial safe conduct to John Huss a century earlier, Huss was burnt at the stake in July 1415, and however, Luther accepts the challenge.
The Legislative assembly of Worms: 1521
Where Huss had slipped into Constance in 1414 almost alone, Luther arrives at the legislative assembly at Worms supported by a large number of enthusiastic German knights. Nevertheless, apparently the purpose of the confrontation, from the emperor's point of view, is a demand that he should recant.
In a lengthy speech, Luther explains that he will abjure any of his views if they can be proved wrong by scripture or reason. Otherwise, he must remain true to his conscience and to his understanding of God's word. The presses soon reduce this to the pithy statement, which has been remembered ever since Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders., 'Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise'. Germans were otherwise also not very much in favor of Pope's office and this opportunity they look to as one more chance to pull papal authority further down. Luther's victory at the diet encourages more intellectuals to dare for more changes in the existing form of Pope's authority. As a result, Luther's stand leads, eventually, to the emergence of the first sect to break away from the Roman Catholic Church and to survive the opposition of the papacy - Lutheranism, finally established by the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. Since it came out of protest by Luther to papal authority disregarding concept of key to heaven it was called, 'Protestants'. This first Protestant faith is soon followed by others, violently disagreeing among themselves. Zwingli goes further than Luther. The Anabaptists far outstrip either. Meanwhile Henry VIII devises a new English church for personal purposes. The papacy, unable to stem the tide, calls the 'Council of Trent' and develops the Catholic Reformation - Rome's own rigorously virtuous program of reform.
In the meanwhile, power struggle in Italy continued to the extent that in year 1527, Rome was sacked by imperial troops wit total disregards for Pope's authority as religious lord. We often observe that European Kings seldom regarded Pope as a power unless proven and they continued to push its power by using military might. They took Pope as a political force more than as a spiritual force. The papacy, responsible for the scheming alliances, which foster so much of the conflict, appears to receive its just reaction in the sack of Rome in 1527. But it too emerges much strengthened a decade or two later. Once the Catholic Reformation is under way, Rome and Spain - allies in spiritual severity - are well equipped to exercise strict control over the entire peninsula apart from republican Venice. Throughout we see there is hardly any spiritual activity involved in any of the programs of Pope, they were full of political power struggles all over. Pope's kingdom was just like any other king's kingdom. Nobles had no regard for any of the Popes as Bishop of Catholic faith.
Continues in the next post –
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