German Cardinal Gerhard Müller has contradicted a senior Italian bishop who called the Reformation an “event of the Holy Spirit” ahead of its 500th anniversary.

Writing for Italian website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Cardinal Müller said such a view was unacceptable, as Martin Luther abandoned “all the principles of the Catholic faith, Sacred Scripture, the apostolic tradition, the magisterium of the popes and councils, the episcopate” – whereas the Holy Spirit “helps the Church to maintain its continuity through the Church’s magisterium”.

His intervention came after Bishop Nunzio Galantino, the secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference, reportedly said that “the Reformation carried out by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit”.

During a talk at the Pontifical University of the Lateran, the bishop argued that “The Reformation corresponds to the truth expressed in the saying Ecclesia semper reformanda [the Church always reforming].”

But Cardinal Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said modern-day Catholics often discussed Martin Luther “too enthusiastically”, mainly due to ignorance of theology.

He said it was wrong to think Luther’s intent was simply to fight abuses in indulgences or the sins of the Renaissance Church.

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