Today I was a guest on the Mike Church Show to talk about the myths surrounding Luther and the beginning of the “Reformation” and the Catholic reformers that began before Luther even appeared on the scene; so that Luther’s revolt was not due to abuses in the Church, but errors in theology that he embraced.
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Today is the feast of the twin martyrs, St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. There are books yet to be written on both, for all that have been written, but since so many more have been written on the latter I wish to write more on the former.
Now, in the first place, Fisher was a far greater theologian than St. Thomas More, who was a rhetorician and a lawyer, though no less devout a layman than Fisher was a bishop. Fisher established the seminary system in all but name, and made sure good preaching was the norm. This is rather an interesting thing. In the late Renaissance, patronage, which was designed to move ahead those who were worthy had become instead a way of rewarding friends and picking favorites. Men became pastors and bishops solely due to royal favor, and the Popes tended not to care because they received the first year’s income of that diocese, a sort of Church tax called the Annates. Suffice it to say the whole thing had gone very wrong in the fifteenth century, and now preaching was a rarity. Some Bishops did not preach a sermon in their lives. Many bishops lived elsewhere, and would attempt to have other dioceses consecrated under them, or when those had been exhausted abbeys, so they could live it up in Paris or Rome or some other large city, and appoint a vicar for low pay to administer his diocese. These often did not do so well, particularly since they were not paid for the job. At the time St. Charles Borromeo entered Milan as its Archbishop, there had not been a Bishop who actually resided in Milan for 125 years! Yet that holy reforming bishop had a portrait of two saints in his room, one of St. Ambrose, and the other of St. John Fisher.