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25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.

This Thesis reminds us that in 1517 at the time of this writing Martin Luther still felt that the Pope had the power to forgive sins on earth that was somehow greater than any other man. In later years Luther changed his views in this area to say that he believed that the Pope had no more power than the ordinary believing Christian to forgive.

In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus was speaking to Peter and to all the disciples when he said that they had the power to forgive and retain sins. “Whosoever sins you forgive they are forgiven and whosoever’s sins you retain they are retained.”

The Catholic Church had interpreted this passage to be spoken only to Peter. They believed that this power to forgive sins had been passed down from Peter to the Popes. Therefore all forgiveness that was announced in the church was done so by the power of the Pope. Part of what Luther came to believe was that this passage was spoken to all believing Christians not just to Peter. Therefore any Christian can announce the forgiveness of God to any other repentant sinner.

When Luther took this position the Pope took it as a direct affront to the power of the Pope and he then put out an Edict that said that Luther was an outlaw of the church and could be arrested or killed by anyone without free.


Heavenly Father look down in mercy upon me and all who believe that Jesus is their only hope for forgiveness and salvation. Give us the power to speak forgiveness to all others who believe that we may be Your voice here on earth. In Jesus name, Amen.