Italian Bishop praises Luther and Revolt as work of the Holy Spirit

luther galantinoOne of Pope Francis’ very most favoritists of the Italian bishops, personally raised by the pontifical hand to power in the episcopal conference, Bp. Nunzio Galantino, gave a talk at my old school, the Pontifical Lateran University (“The Pope’s University”) for their LutherFest2017, sponsored by the theology faculty.

I read in Il Timone

“I’ve deployed against all the papists, against the Pope and indulgences but only by preaching the word of God.  And when I was sleeping the word of God was working such things that the Pope is now fallen.”  [Bp.] Nunzio Galantino, Secretary General of the Italian Episcopate, read at full voice this passage from Luther which for 5 centuries was considered offensive to Catholics.  “The reform started by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit“, the bishop affirmed while speaking at the Pontifical Lateran University to a conference promoted by the Pope’s school to celebrate the anniversary.

“The Reform”, Galantino underscored, “responds to the truth expressed in the formula ecclesia semper reformanda.”  “It was the same Luther,” the Secretary of the CI reminded, “who didn’t consider himself the author of the Reform, writing: “while I was sleeping, God was reforming the Church.”  “Even today,” the prelate commented, “the Church needs a reform.  And today, too, it can be fulfilled by God alone.”


One thing I’ll agree on with Galantino is that the Church is in need of a reform.

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  1. francophile says:

    Are we trying to somehow “rehabilitate” Luther for some theological or ecclesiological reason I am not aware of? Is there some kind of campaign I am missing? It seems Luther is in vogue these days. Although a dear friend of mine said recently that heresy is trending well in many circles.

    Where is St. Nicolas when you need him?

  2. Kevin says:

    I don’t want to be a protestant. I am a convert (doesn’t mean much to some since they want us to shut up) but I already was a protestant. I know Fr. Z says this pontificate is just a blink of the eye in the overall picture but it seems they are splitting us up. This conference interprets this way and another conference interprets that way. One Bishop says yes, another says no. Cardinals vs. Cardinals. I am worried…do I have the courage of St. Isaac Jogues or St. John de Brebeuf? I guess I better go to confession….

  3. Qwikness says:

    Didn’t the Church need a reform (not a revolution)? Saint Francis knew it. Luther might have done it the wrong way but is it wrong to say “Yeah, there was stuff going on and reform was needed.”

  4. mattg says:

    At what point does the laity get out their torches and pitchforks? How bad does it have to get?

    Do we really have to wait for modernism and its supporters to wither and die, both literally and financially? The Church will be plunged into darkness for a thousand years…

  5. RAve says:

    I am glad we aren’t allowed to use coarse language here in the comm box.

  6. gracie says:

    According to Martin Luther, the Holy Spirit ended the papacy. Bishop Galantino has repeated these words. If that’s the case, then Pope Francis is not the pope because there is no pope anymore – in fact, there hasn’t been any pope for 500 years. No papacy, no pope.

    It’s rather ironic that Galantino has spoken these words of Luther after getting his job from Pope Francis. Isn’t that a case of biting the hand that feeds you? Does the Holy Father approve of this message? If he doesn’t censure Galantino then what is one to think?

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  8. Andrew1054 says:

    The Holy Spirit cannot inspire or teach error.

    Not only that, an infalliable ecumenical council (Trent) formally condemned the errors of Luther.

    As such this bishop has contradicted an ecumenical council and the Holy Spirit who inspired it and protected it from error. And he will not be corrected by brother bishops or our Pope.

    I’m not an SSPX follower, but I grow more sympathetic to them each day. What does “in Communion” with the Pope and local bishops even mean when they profess error? I would think that a deeper Communion in the faith of the Apostles is more important than just some sort of institutional union. Ideally it should be both, but I feel bishops like these are forcing me to make a personal choice between institutional communion and communion with the Faith.

  9. will99lang says:

    If Bp. Galantino believe that Luther was inspired by the Holy Spirit, does that mean that he also believe that Arius the heretic was inspired by God? How about Donatist the not-so-great? Maybe he thinks that the Orthodox separated because the Holy Spirit wanted them too? If he believe that the Holy Spirit acts in ways that can make movements in the Church, even going into heresy and schism, does that mean he also believe that lesser degree movements like the SSPX movement, which never became heretics or schismatics, is under the guidance of God?

  10. Benedict Joseph says:

    Looks like Halloween we’ll be posing as Lutherans and Lutherans posing as Catholics or is it the other way around?
    But maybe the key word these days is “posing.”
    Who is posing as what?
    Masks are off.

  11. will99lang says:

    Hello Andrew1054, I suggest that you study the heresies of the 300s. You know the stories Protestants tells about “The Great Apostasy?” Well it almost happened, but in another way.

    You see, Arius came on the seen, and he believed that Jesus was a creature elevated to Godliness. Well he was so good at telling heresies, that he had Constantina and the Emperor Constantius on his side. He never “really” had the Emperor Constantine, but almost. Well to tell it short. Santa Claus punched him, a council declared him heretic, an emperor went on his side and made a persecution of the church, another council was hijacked, a pope was sent to exile and an anti-pope was put on the throne, the real pope signed a declaration which could be interpreted both ways…

    Sound bad? And I did not go into the details… Just read this blog post, it explains it in better:

  12. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Others may be called to a different approach, but, no pitchforks or burning torches for me.

    Instead, prayer, study and penance. (The first in Latin, to the extent that I can manage it; the second, to study only authors whose first name is “Saint”; and the third, I’m not very good at yet, but am working on it.)

    Indeed, may some Catholics imitate the sufferings of the saints who did their best to accept their painful trials from the loving hands of God, without complaint. . . ? (Saint Therese of Lisieux confided to her sister-by-birth and also in religion, that when she was suffering some trial, she tried not to pay any attention to it even interiorly; to try to “hide” her trial from her Heavenly Father, so as not to be seen to seem to reproach Him for anything.)

    And would the trial of being aboard the Barque of Peter in the middle of a vast ocean, in Category 5 hurricane-force winds, with 120′ swells, no light from the moon, the stars, or so much as a lantern, and our Divine Commander seems to be sleeping soundly, tucked up beneath the aftdeck. . . . and my throat – and the throats of many – raw from calling, “Lord, do you not care that we are going to drown?” . . . would all those things also qualify as a trial to be endured without complaint? Not *in
    silence* – there should be plenty of communication coming from those who are Orthodox, . . . but *without complaint*, which is different.

    No, not in silence: I agree it’s imperative to speak and write as much as one can in favor of the authentic, orthodox teachings of the Magisterium, especially when these seem to be contradicted by opinions and directives given forth by bishops . . . even by the Holy Father himself. And it’s important to point these divergences out, and to prepare oneself by much prayer and study to speak in favor of orthodox teachings clearly and well. But to speak only of the teachings; not of persons; in other words, to speak only of God or with God.

    And I believe that our responses to these storms may legitimately vary; that God in His wisdom may be calling those of us within the Barque in a variety of different ways . . .

  13. Andrew1054 says:

    I really appreciate the reply. You make a good point. But imagine being an orthodox Catholic and your local bishop was an Arian? As a faithful Catholic you might have to ignore your local bishop and align yourself with a faithful one like St. Athanasius. Isn’t the what the SSPX is doing?

    I don’t want to say I support schism or the SSPX. I don’t but it just seems many of our bishops are making it hard to be faithful to Catholic teaching. I don’t judge the SSPX anymore and don’t blame people for going to their chapels. Thankfully where I live things are pretty solid, but if I lived in a place like Germany I couldn’t blame a Catholic for going SSPX. Am I wrong to think this way?

    I guess I’m asking myself what does being full communion actually mean in today’s Church climate.

  14. Multinucleate says:

    God allows all things to transpire for a greater good we do not see, but it really is disheartening to see Church LEADERS promote such nonsense. How many people are being led away?

    How can learned bishops come to such an obviously wrong conclusion?

    And what recourse do we laypeople have? Do we just have to sit around and remain silent because we do not have proper authority to speak up?

  15. THREEHEARTS says:

    mike writes.
    I see the priesthood is claiming all sorts of malarkey as the work of the Holy Spirit. We all know that it was the work of the St Galen Group (by their own admittance) They poiticed for hom just like any secular political campaign.

  16. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I too have been pondering this line of thought a lot of late.

  17. nine man morris says:

    I posted this on other traditional Catholic blogs – but I wanted to put it here for the good Father Z’s comments and erudition! This could go on any article about New Church, really, so this is as good a place as any other.

    “It seems obvious to me, though I haven’t heard anyone else mention this yet, that Pope Francis and his buddies are clearly proposing the theology of Open Theism. It is exactly the same theology as UCC, UU and other liberal protestant sects I’ve had the displeasure of hearing in my fifty years. Allow me to cut and paste from Wikipedia:

    Open Theology – From Wikipedia – “In short, open theism says that since God and humans are free, God’s knowledge is dynamic and God’s providence flexible. Open theism sees God’s knowledge of the future as a plurality of branching possibilities, with some possibilities becoming settled as time moves forward. Thus, the future as well as God’s knowledge of it is open (hence “open” theism). Open Theists tend to emphasize that God’s most fundamental character trait is love, and that this trait is unchangeable. They also (in contrast to traditional theism) tend to hold that the biblical portrait is of a God deeply moved by creation, experiencing a variety of feelings in response to it. Most importantly, God “does not unilaterally and irrevocably decide what to do” or what’s right or wrong. God’s decisions on these matters are influenced by “human attitudes and responses” according to Open Theism.”

    Isn’t this Pope Francis, Spadaro, Kaspar, Martin, etc? Isn’t this exactly what they’re saying. Isn’t this clearly a faith that is not THE Catholic faith?

    Wikipedia lists a whole bunch of theologians in the Church who openly subscribe to this heresy, by name. Isn’t this simply Open Theism?

    Comments, Father?

  18. Gaetano says:

    At least it’s easier to separate the wheat from the chaff these days.

  19. Lurker 59 says:


    The love affair with Luther amongst certain aspects of the Episcopate as well as within Accademia is frankly bizarre. It is all over the place, even in corners that are typically orthodox. As a convert, I don’t get it. If one has only a passing knowledge of the Church Fathers, it is easily seen that Luther isn’t motivated by the Holy Spirit.

    Libraries have been written on what is wrong with Luther, both by Catholics and non-Lutheran Protestants, that the only real course of action is to perhaps be pithy to that clergy that love Luther more than St. Ignatius of Loyola. “No thank you. I want to see Jesus in heaven so I will not laud Luther or follow his ‘spiritual’ path.”

  20. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Multinucleate: “And what recourse do we laypeople have? Do we just have to sit around and remain silent because we do not have proper authority to speak up?”

    No, we do have authority to speak up. In defense of the truth. Not to criticize specific other people, and especially not to call out priests and bishops.

    Read St. Thomas Aquinas. In the Summa, he set up arguments this way: Question. (For example) ” Whether a Catholic who is civilly divorced and has then entered into an adulterous union may receive the Eucharist?” (Just as an example) Then St. Thomas sets forth the *wrong answer* often espoused by heretics, followed by a series of arguments (1-6 or 1-10 or however many) he has encountered from heretics to back up that wrong answer. (You’re sittin’ there, thinking to yourself, “Whoa! Saint Thomas! I know you’re a saint, and all, but this can’t be right!”) In other words, he makes all the usual arguments for *the other side. *Then St. Thomas turns the tables on the heretics, giving the correct answer, using quotes from Scripture and the Fathers to explain it thoroughly. And then, one by one, he gives the rebuttals to each of the erroneous arguments he had put forth above. 1-6 or 1-10 or what have you.

    It’s very methodical. It’s very detailed. You’ll get along much better if you know Philosophy. And Theology. If you haven’t made a serious, serious study of these two disciplines, you should start, but please be sure that you read and study *authentically* Catholic treatises on these subjects. And in the meantime start reading the Summa. Ask the Holy Spirit, Saint Joseph, St. Thomas, and St. Albertus Magnus (St. Thomas professor) to guide you and inspire you. And the whole Church.

    That said, it’s a whole lot easier to fret and fume, bellyache, groan, bemoan, bewail, complain, denounce, rage, fuss, gripe, sing the blues, squawk, accuse, crab, and croak . . . than it is to study Philosophy, Theology and Saint Thomas, and to put your study to good use to speak and write on behalf of the Church. And history. Especially Church history, but world history in general.

    Not to argue with people. But to make a point; defend it; and never, never, never, never, never, never, never back down. Why do you not have to back down? Because the Church is right; you know what the Church has always taught; you know why she has always taught it; you know it Chapter and Verse, through and through, and no matter what anyone else says, the Church is and always has been right. Period.

    You can’t do this, if you don’t know it yourself. If you do know it, then it’s not hard to say, respectfully, here’s what the Church has always taught about X; here’s a contrary position some have put forward about X, and the arguments I’ve encountered; and here’s why Scripture, St. Thomas, St. Jerome, and others say those arguments are wrong.


    *That’s* not keeping silent.

    It’s months and months of really hard, dedicated study and prayer, sacrificing sports time, TV time, sleep time. It’s so much easier to give up (that’s my vice – giving up). Or grouse. I’ve done plenty of that, too.

    But those don’t get us anywhere, do they? No. Never have; never will.

    Blood, sweat, and tears, (figuratively) just might win the day. Even at this late hour. Because after all, it’s not just our fight, is it?

  21. Aegidius says:

    When you mention “a place like Germany” you are probably refering to a once catholic place which has seen a great decline in sound catechesis, church attendance, catholic identity and vocations. This means, a place like Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, South America, the US … Please don’t give up Germany as long as the Germans Pope em. Benedict, Cardinals Meisner, Brandmüller, Müller, Cordes, Archbishop Gänswein, Bishops Oster, Hanke, and many more Prelates and intellectuals like Prof. Spaemann or Mosebach that exposed themselves in defense of faith and truth, find supporters and followers among the German faithful. St Gallen is not in Germany, nor would its “mafia” consist of Germans.

  22. James in Perth says:

    I like to think if I had been there, I would have slammed my hand down on the table, shouted “B-S”, and walked out. I am truly grateful that the priests I’ve had in my parishes have been more faithful Catholics than this bishop.

    Although…once I had a brief chat with a visiting priest who criticized the military in his homily (in Norfolk, no less). He was shaken up that I was offended, apologized and said he meant no harm. I honestly think the laity (and seminarians) need to be more willing to speak out when they hear heterodox or harmful teaching.

    Fortunately I am now in a B.C. parish with holy and orthodox clergy.

  23. James in Perth says:

    LOL. As Fr. Z discusses in greater depth above in his post on “Cri de Couer”!

  24. Godisgood says:

    Thank you for bringing up the condemnation of Luther by the infallible teaching of the Council of Trent and the role of the Holy Spirit in defending truth and refuting heresy. I, too, wrestle with being a faithful Catholic who prays for the Pope and respects him as Christ’s vicar, believing that he was chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead our Church….but I am very uncomfortable with Pope Francis, confused by him, and a little frightened. I love being Catholic. I can’t imagine leaving the Fullness of Truth; yet being Catholic means I am under the authority of the Pope, whose teachings and interviews and incomprehensible silence in response to polite and impassioned pleas for clarity trouble me.

  25. Mariana2 says:

    “According to Martin Luther, the Holy Spirit ended the papacy. Bishop Galantino has repeated these words. If that’s the case, then Pope Francis is not the pope because there is no pope anymore – in fact, there hasn’t been any pope for 500 years. No papacy, no pope.”

    That is the view of the Lutheran church in Finland. The Lutheran church is officially the heir of the Catholic Church. So what we call Holy Mother Church apparently is not the Church at all, just some misguided sect, gone off the rails in the early centuries A.D.

    But to hear things like that from Catholic Bishops…

  26. Pingback: PopeWatch: Luther – The American Catholic

  27. JonPatrick says:

    @Qwikness yes reform was needed, but what we got from Luther and those that followed his lead was revolution. The “Reformation” was no more reform than what happened in these USA in 1776 was a reform of the British Government. The Protestants wanted to do their own thing so therefore got rid of the concept of Church authority which in turn meant they had to get rid of those things that depended on it such as the sacraments of holy orders, penance, and a real Eucharist. It didn’t hurt that it gave them an excuse to plunder the monasteries which got the powers that be interested in pursuing this breakaway. That is what it all comes down to. The Church did reform itself at the Council of Trent but the ship had sailed by then.

  28. PeterC says:

    Hearing/reading those words, my heart exclaims, “blasphemy!” Much penance indeed we need.

  29. will99lang says:

    Hello Andrew1054, I would struggle if I had an Arian Bishop… (Okay, I would be horrified)

    But I know that Saint Augustine attacked the Donatists of those 300s because they had left the church`s unity in response to the Arians. According to St. Alphonsus M. Liguori: The History of Heresies, and Their Refutations; or, The Triumph of the Church. Vol. I, while the Arians expanded their heresies, the Donatists separated because they saw the church as being into too much heresy, and as accepting heretical and traitor bishops. (Traitor as in giving away the Scriptures to the Romans during the persecutions.)

    The Donatists unfortunately became violent, but apart from that, their main heretical idea was that they believed that they were the “remnant” of the church, and that the “outside” church had disappeared and turned traitor and heretical. Thus the sacraments of the “outside” church were no longer regarded as valid. Saint Augustine spoke against them, and wrote a poem telling about all of their lies to be sang in Church: PSALMUS CONTRA PARTEM DONATI. Here is the poem in Latin:
    Or in French, I could not find it in English, sorry:

    In it`s 5th part, Saint Augustine says what I think is vital to know for all in today`s culture. I will let you draw your own conclusions from it. (Translated from French)

    For us, let us love the peace of Jesus Christ, let us rejoice in unity.
    That there are wicked men in the Church is a misfortune, but they can not harm us.
    If they can not be in communion with us, let them be excluded, but without peace having to suffer.
    If they can not be excluded de facto, let them be of heart.
    The prophet Ezekiel said that the divine seal has marked on the forehead those who groan of the sins of their brethren, yet without separating from unity.
    Therefore, because we have some bad brothers, let us beware of separating ourselves from our mother.
    This, however, is what the wicked have done, by erecting altar against altar;
    In this way they have become worse than those they affect to flee.

  30. LJ says:

    Wheat and the tares perhaps? Christ tells us that it all gets sorted out on the threshing floor.
    It is true that heresies have always originated in the clergy and I think there may be a reason for that.
    The average parishioner is too busy making a living, raising children, paying taxes, etc. for so much of his/her life that there is no time to think up heresies. Perhaps the heretics just need reassignment to a diocese or parish that covers vast territory and requires constant travel, where there is a shortage of clergy. But for some in the clergy who have lost the faith entirely, even that may not be enough. And it is sad to see them struggle on when their heart is no longer in it.
    I attended a mass in a parish I will not name, in which there was a baptism. I have never seen a priest so dis-engaged from what he was doing, downplaying it, speaking about baptism as just something that the Church still requires and no more.
    His benediction at the end of the mass? “Let’s go home.” I was more sad than offended as was my wife. She had felt the same thing from this priest during the mass. He no longer believed what he was doing. Nearing retirement, I think perhaps he was just putting in the time until that day.
    The most difficult thing, for many practical reasons, is to actually face up to the fact that we no longer believe what we have long professed to believe and take honest steps to remove ourselves from our situation, and in the case of clergy, to remove ourselves from a teaching role.
    If you are a heretic, it takes guts to admit it and leave, or reject the heresy and stay. What commands no respect, in my opinion, is the heretic who stays and tries to infect others with his heresy from within. At least Martin Luther had that much honesty, egocentric and delusional as he was.
    There is actually a lot of latitude in the Church and her teachings for variety of opinion and emphasis and spirituality, but of all the things Luther had to say, as others have pointed out, this seems an odd quote. Perhaps Galantino is just working up the courage to become a Lutheran. It is a stretch I think, but it is still possible this was just an inept attempt to make the case that God can use heretics and other adversity to strengthen the Church. A puzzle indeed.

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