The Vatican office charged with issuing stamps, known as the Philatelic and Numismatic Office, confirmed (Tuesday, 17 January 2017) to LifeSiteNews that the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther will be celebrated with a postage stamp in 2017.
It must be said that the article posted on the Roman Catholic website LifeSiteNews seems far short of enthusiastic at the sound of this proposal:
“The Vatican regularly issues such memorabilia for special events, including papal trips and holy years. Honoring Luther and the Protestant Reformation is an unlikely choice, trumping other significant events in the Catholic Church such as the 100-year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and the 300-year anniversary of our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil.
Usually if individuals are commemorated on stamps they are saints, such as Teresa of Calcutta, John Paul II, and Pope John XXIII, who most recently were honoured with stamps.”
In addition to appearing somewhat miffed that Luther does not fit the Catholic criteria for sainthood and yet may end up “trumping” (an interesting choice of word in the present political climate) “Our Lady” on some of the Vatican stamps, LifeSiteNews is careful to lay down a few historical markers that Luther:
• caused “a schism in the Church,”
• represented “much hostility to the Catholic Church,”
• and was responsible for, “the formation of Protestant denominations that later spilled into other countries, fueled by others such as John Calvin and Jan Hus.”
• They even go so far as to indirectly link him with, “the confessional war that followed, the “Thirty Years’ War,” with its 10 million deaths … the bloodiest war in Europe until World War I.”
Several facts remain unaltered by this little piece of papal propaganda:
History records how Luther was excommunicated in 3 January 1521 by Pope Leo X by the issue of the papal bull, Decet Romanum Pontificem – “Papal Bull on the Condemnation and Excommunication of Martin Luther, the Heretic, and his Followers,” therefore:
1. while some who receive a piece of mail from the Vatican this year may witness the incongruent sight of Martin Luther’s head on the stamp, the Pope in Luther’s day would much have preferred Luther’s head to have been served up in the manner of John the Baptist’s (Matthew 14:8-12); and
2. while Luther’s resemblance may be circulated by means of some of their letters, there is no way that the Vatican is ready either to agree with or spread Luther’s key teachings.