This week in Christian history: Jonathan Edwards married, Wilberforce dies, Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII issues anti-Protestant encyclical - August 1, 1897

This week marks the anniversary of when Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical titled Militantis Ecclesiae that, among other things, referred to Protestantism as “poison.”

Latin for “Church Militant,” the encyclical was addressed to Archbishops and Bishops of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and centered on education and apologetics.

When commenting on the “Lutheran revolt,” the pontiff blamed the Reformation for allegedly creating a collapse in morals and religious practice.

“Moral standards had changed and as they continued to worsen, it was easy to fall into error - but this very error hastened the final collapse of morals. The number of those leaving the Catholic faith gradually increased,” stated Leo XIII. 

“Soon the poison spread to most of the provinces and infected all classes. Many considered the cause of religion in that realm to be desperate and doubted that any remedy remained to be tried. Indeed it is clear that all would have been lost if God had not intervened with powerful aid.”

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