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Discussion Question

Luther wrote that the Pope overestimated his own power, and in doing so, missed the opportunity to suppress the Reformation:

“For when I began to preach and write, the pope scorned and condemned me; he thought: 'Tis but one poor friar; what can he do against me? I have maintained and defended this doctrine in popedom, against many emperors, kings, and princes, what then shall this one man do? If he had condescended to regard me, he might easily have suppressed me in the beginning.” (Martin Luther, Against Catholicism, 1535) full text available here

Is it true that the Church did not take Luther seriously? If we assume that Luther’s interpretation of events is correct, what historical factors made it difficult for the Pope to “condescend” to Luther and intercede directly and rapidly? Even if the Pope had done this, were there other historical factors at work that made the Reformation impossible to stop? What were these factors and which were most important?

Luther debating at Worms, 1521
Luther debating at Worms, 1521, woodcut

Primary Sources (feel free to use these to support your argument)

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