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69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.

Here we see the power of the hierarchy of the church at the time of Luther. All the power of the Church was gathered in the Pope and then each of those under him had their power given by the persons over them in the chain of command.

The pope had “Archbishops” who had authority over whole countries. Then the Archbishops had “bishops” who would be over cities or county parishes. Then the Bishops had all the “priests” for the local parishes that they had authority over. The “curates” that Luther mentioned here were most often assistants to the local priests in larger parishes and they had their power from the priests.

A “Commissary Apostolic” was one who was commissioned by the Pope to have power and control over a certain task or responsibility. They had their power directly from the Pope and in the area that they were responsible for they had only the pope as their superior. Those who were commissioned by the pope to sell the indulgences were just such “Commissaries Apostolic” and therefore in the area of indulgences were even more powerful than the Archbishops and Bishops. They were allowed to speak in the individual parishes even without the permission of the priests of the parish.

Luther at this writing still had respect for the authority of the church and correctly stated that the commissaries should be held in reverence and given their “due” by the leaders of the local churches where they came to sell indulgences.


Father of love pour our Your mercy on me today that I may humble myself before all those that You have placed in authority over me. Help me to see in them Your guiding hand and protecting arm. In Christ I pray, Amen.