Pope Leo X sent Cardinal Tomas de Vio (known as Cajetan) to Saxony to meet with Luther. The rebellious monk refused to recant, and his obfuscations and intransigence incited Cajetan. Eventually, Leo X condemned 41 of Luther’s theses in the bull Exsurge Domine (July 1520). Luther responded to the papal bull by publishing a work entitled, “Against the Execrable Bull of Antichrist,” in which he said the purpose of the bull was to “compel men to deny God and worship the devil.”
That same year , Luther published his three famous treatises, which formed the foundation of his teachings. In these treatises he called for the German nobility to rise up against the Church and separate from Rome by creating an independent national German church. He also argued that the sacramental system of the Church was designed by the pope and clergy to enslave the Christian people. Moreover, he wrote that man is not endowed with free will, but, rather, can only choose evil due to the effects of original sin, which, according to Luther, completely corrupted human nature to the point of depravity.
Luther viewed the Church as the “whore of Babylon” and the pope as the Antichrist.
A year later, in 1521, Luther wrote another work, “On Monastic Vows,” which led large numbers of monks and nuns to leave their monasteries and convents.
Luther personally assisted the escape of 12 nuns from the convent; and a few years later, he married one of them, Katherine von Bora. Luther said he rejected his priestly ordination and married in order to please his father and to spite the pope.
Luther’s writing’s tapped into the nobility’s resentment of the Church and fueled their desire to wrest from the Church whatever temporal power it possessed. His writings also produced violence in Germany, as the peasants rebelled in 1525. Urged by his noble protectors to end the violence, Luther wrote the pamphlet “Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants,” in which he exhorted the nobility to kill the rebels.
By the end of year, 130,000 people had been killed. Toward the end of his life, Luther wrote a treatise entitled, “On the Jews and their Lies,” in which he advocated an eight-point plan to get rid of the Jews in Germany. His last work, “Against the Pontificate at Rome, Founded by the Devil,” contained his deep belief in the evil of the papacy and the need for its complete eradication. —from “Who Was the Real Martin Luther?”