I HAVE in my possession four large volumes of Church his tory written by the late Prof. John Alzog of Freiburg University, and published in 1870. This work is really an exhaustive study of comparative religions with copious references and going right back to Paganism. The style is detached and lucid and the author is careful not to take sides, although he is able to throw some new light on the Spanish Inquisition.
I was interested to find out what he had to say about Martin Luther and was astonished to read that after Luther had left the Catholic Church he embarked on a campaign of hatred against the whole Jewish race and never ceased to attack them even in his last years, when he called them "Devils from hell," and said that their synagogues should be burnt to the ground, and that Germany would be better off without them. Now realise, of course, that this is very bad for Luther's image at a time when there is greater friendliness between Catholics and Protestants; but in view of the fact that Catholics have been beating their breasts and apologising to the whole world for their errors in the past, I think it might contribute to an even better understanding between us if Lutherans could be helped to understand that their own Church history was more than a bit tarnished — even though it produced a man like Pastor Niernoller.
Teresa Martin Chippenham, Wiltshire.
MR. JOHN TODD, we learn, has gone to Wittenberg to take part in the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the secession of Luther from the Church and the consequent establishment of the Reformation, this under the auspices of the British Council of Churches. Surely this is the extreme of irony in this ecumenical age, that in the interests of unity a (self-appointed) spokesman for the Catholic Church should join -with -the Reformed Church in -Saluting the memory of the greatest split in history of the Seamless -Robe of Christ, a gaping rent which makes the schisms of Photius and Cerularius seem small holes by comparison.
I think it is important that in our efforts to be ecumenical we should make a clear distinction between what the theologians call formal and material heresy. Noreen White (Mrs.) London, S.W.19.
The Church and its conscience
I TRUST that no one has -11been influenced by your (mis)leading article of November 3, "The Church Examines its Conscience."
Surely all faithful Catholics know that the Church is not only competent but infallibly guaranteed (through the Pope) in "laying down absolute categories of physical human actions which are intrinsically right or wrong." I don't recall that you questioned the Church's right in interpreting God's law "Thou shall not kill," to mean that abortion is wrong, and the question of the use of contraceptives is a similar case of right or wrong. incidentally, I am surprised that a Catholic paper can make the elementary mistake of using the phrase birth control when you surely mean contraception. When the Pope gives his final, and of course infallible. ruling against contraception, I hope you don't continue to throw doubts on the teachings of the one true Faith, otherwise I suggest that you rename your paper Heretical Herald.
T. P. Leering Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
THE quotation that Mr. Edward Thomson gives in his letter of November 3 comes from St. Augustin. It is quoted in the "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St. Francois de Sales who comments as follows: We must enjoy things spiritual, and only use those of the body.
S. Brykczynski London, S.W.9.