If you were brought up to believe that your father was a corrupt businessman, a thief, or a murderer, would it matter to you, maybe even change your life, if you later discovered that, far from being any of these things, your father was a hero?
Many of us think of history as dry, meaningless, and stale. But the new EWTN docu-drama, The “Reformation,” is here to show you that some of the events you may believe to be an embarrassment to Catholics are actually “Black Legends.” As history shows, these “legends” were perpetuated by people who had their own selfish motives for taking down the Church, the Church that built Western Civilization!
The “Reformation” is part of a trilogy of must-see docu-dramas examining the biggest so-called Black Legends against the Church: the Crusades, the Inquisition, and now, the “Reformation.” This series begins with The “Reformation:” A Catholic World,” which airs at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, May 6. One new episode will air each month until October 31, when EWTN will air all 12 episodes in one day, six of which will be premieres! (See the full program schedule in your local time here: http://bit.ly/EWTNtv).
“We’re making these to dispel what are known as Black Legends,” said “Reformation” Writer/Producer/Director Stefano Mazzeo. “All three were important to get the truth out. This is not what you hear in the secular media or the Protestant world.”
Mazzeo steps right into the middle of controversy, refusing to sugarcoat anything.
For example, while there were abuses of indulgences, Mazzeo says Luther threw out the whole concept of indulgences, which Catholics embrace even today. Unlike St. Francis, St. Dominic and St. Peter Damien, who chose to reform from within, Luther chose to align himself with noblemen who supported him because they wanted to seize Church lands. “If they got rid of the monasteries, they could do a big land grab and could control the Church,” Mazzeo says.
Luther was a man of contradictions. While he could be charismatic at times, Mazzeo says he was a manic depressive who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder. He was known to spend six hours in the confessional, even though he himself never believed that his sins could be forgiven. In fact, there’s a lot he didn’t believe.
Luther threw out all of the sacraments in his new religion except Baptism and, while he kept the sacrament of Communion, he did not believe in transubstantiation. Luther also threw out seven books of the Old Testament, and added the word “alone” to the New Testament quote “Justification is by faith alone” – all on his own authority!
But it was John Calvin, another “Reformation” figure, who Mazzeo says “was busy turning Geneva into a tyrannical Protestant religious state,” who introduced the belief that some people were predestined for hell, some for heaven. “Catholics say it’s not that way at all. No one is predestined for hell! Catholics believe we have a choice: to cooperate with God’s grace or not. We have free will.”
Episode 1 focuses on how Jesus formed the Catholic Church, changing the name of Simon to Peter, which is the Greek word for rock. It was on this rock that Jesus built His Church. Ever since that time, the successor of Peter has headed the Church.
Says Mazzeo: “If you break away from Peter, you are breaking away from the Apostles. It was the Catholic Church that built Western Civilization.”
You’ll also learn it was the Church, through its Councils and ratified by the Pope, that “collected all the books of the Bible and decided which books should be in the Bible” so the Protestant charge that the Church is not biblical is untrue.
In addition to examining the persons of Martin Luther and John Calvin, the first six episodes consider Catholic theologians battles with Luther, Henry VIII and his break from the Church, the Council of Trent, and the difference between England’s Queen Elizabeth, who persecuted Catholics, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
“The series also looks at how the ‘Reformation’ still affects the world today and why the Catholic Church is still relatively strong despite everything,” says Mazzeo.
“Why is Germany so poor when it comes to faith? I talked to a Lutheran pastor in Germany and asked her why, in Luther’s heartland, she thought of the 20% of Lutherans who are baptized, less than 4% are going to church. She said it was probably due to communism.”
“I didn’t tell the poor woman, ‘If you just go across the border, you’ll find Poland and it is Catholic and very religious.’ How did [the Catholic faith in] Poland survive communism and not [the Lutheran faith in] eastern Germany?
Tune in to find out!