the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following
will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend
Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and
in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those
who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by
In the Name
1. Our Lord and
Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of
believers should be repentance.
2. This word
to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which
administered by the priests.
3. Yet it means
repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not
work divers mortifications of the flesh.
4. The penalty
therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is
true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the
5. The pope does
to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has
imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
6. The pope
any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by
assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant
in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in
cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
7. God remits
one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring
into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should
be imposed on the dying.
9. Therefore the
in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes
of the article of death and of necessity.
10. Ignorant and
are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve
canonical penances for purgatory.
canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of
the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
12. In former
canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as
of true contrition.
13. The dying
by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules,
and have a right to be released from them.
[of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with
it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is
15. This fear
is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to
the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of
heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance
17. With souls
it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
18. It seems
by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that
is to say, of increasing love.
19. Again, it
that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of
own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
20. Therefore by
of all penalties" the pope means not actually "of all," but only of
imposed by himself.
of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a
is freed from every penalty, and saved;
22. Whereas he
souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they
have had to pay in this life.
23. If it is at
to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is
that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is,
the very fewest.
24. It must
that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate
and highsounding promise of release from penalty.
25. The power
pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power
any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or
26. The pope
he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the
(which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
27. They preach
say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul
out [of purgatory].
28. It is
the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be
but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God
29. Who knows
the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of
Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
30. No one is
his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full
31. Rare as is
is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences,
i.e., such men are most rare.
32. They will be
eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of
their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
33. Men must be
guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that
gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
34. For these
pardon" concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and
are appointed by man.
35. They preach
doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend
to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
36. Every truly
Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even
letters of pardon.
37. Every true
whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the
Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by
the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said,
declaration of divine remission.
39. It is most
even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to
to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true
and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause
them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them
to other good works of love.
taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be
in any way to works of mercy.
taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a
work than buying pardons;
44. Because love
works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow
better, only more free from penalty.
be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives
[his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but
the indignation of God.
taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to
back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to
it on pardons.
taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of
taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore
their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their
in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear
taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he
would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it
be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of
his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of
cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even
the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
53. They are
Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in
some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
54. Injury is
of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on
pardons than on this Word.
55. It must be
of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are
with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel,
which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred
a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
Church," out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not
named or known among the people of Christ.
57. That they
treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out
such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
58. Nor are they
of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work
grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward
59. St. Lawrence
the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke
to the usage of the word in his own time.
say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ's merit, are that
61. For it is
for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the
pope is of itself sufficient.
62. The true
the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
63. But this
naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
64. On the other
treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the
last to be first.
of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for
indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
the preachers cry as the "greatest graces" are known to be truly such,
in so far as they promote gain.
68. Yet they are
the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety
69. Bishops and
are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all
70. But still
bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest
men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
71. He who
the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
72. But he who
the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
73. The pope
against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in
74. But much
intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to
the injury of holy love and truth.
75. To think the
so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an
sin and violated the Mother of God -- this is madness.
76. We say, on
that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial
sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
77. It is said
St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this
blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
78. We say, on
that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at
his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it
is written in I. Corinthians xii.
79. To say that
emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of
is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
80. The bishops,
and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will
have an account to render.
of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the
reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd
of the laity.
82. To wit: --
not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire
need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of
for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The
reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."
83. Again: --
and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not
or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf,
it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
84. Again: --
new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is
and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of
and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul's own need,
it for pure love's sake?"
85. Again: --
penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse
and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they
were still alive and in force?"
86. Again: --
not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the
build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than
with the money of poor believers?"
87. Again: --
that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those
by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and
88. Again: --
blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred
times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these
89. "Since the
his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does
suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these
90. To repress
and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by
reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their
enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these
would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
92. Away, then,
those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and
is no peace!
93. Blessed be
prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is
exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through
penalties, deaths, and hell;
95. And thus be
of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through
the assurance of peace.