Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Penance and Reform

John Wycliff (1330-1384) was the first of the reformers to challenge the ideas pronounced by Thomas Aquinas. Wycliff rejected inter alia, indulgences, mandatory auricular confession and the position of the priest as the intermediary between God and man. Wycliff asserted that there was no scriptural basis for compulsory confession to a priest with particular emphasis on the immorality of the clergy. Wycliff lived and preached during the period of time that Will Durant called “The Church at Nadir.”

The criticism of the reformers who followed Wycliff were directed less at abuses than at the theory and practice of sacramental confession as taught by bishops and theologians and practiced by priests and penitents. The reformers asserted that

1) confession tormented rather than consoled;
2) confession could not be mandated, rather could only be made voluntarily;
3) a complete confession is neither necessary nor possible; and
4) confession is not a necessary sequel to contrition.

Copyrighted 2005


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