Under normal circumstances, it would be unreasonable for a Catholic to expect a non-Catholic to be familiar with specific Catholic teachings. However, when a non-Catholic attacks a Catholic teaching in a public forum, such as Logan Mohs did during his BHS commencement speech, I think its reasonable to expect him to accurately portray the Catholic teaching hes attacking. Sadly, Mr. Mohs did not.
There was great confusion over indulgences during the reformation, and some of it has carried over to the current day. Much of the confusion stemmed from misrepresentations and abuses by unscrupulous Catholic clergy of the time, and some of it stemmed from misrepresentations of the reformers, themselves. However, there is no evidence the Catholic Church ever officially taught that indulgences guaranteed salvation, nor that they could be sold as a commodity. In fact, in 1518, in response to abuses that were occurring at the time, Pope Leo X took active steps to remind the faithful that salvation could not be bought, and that indulgences granted for making certain charitable contributions should be viewed as penance for past sins, not as a free pass to heaven.
If the Pope wanted to kill Luther for his rebellious actions, as Mr. Mohs asserted in his speech, it certainly wasnt because Luther opposed the abuse of indulgences--the Pope did, too. In fact, Erasmus, the great reformation-era intellectual, who, with Luther, often offered stinging rebukes against the abuse of indulgences, was offered a cardinal's hat by Pope Leo as punishment for his actions.
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