Why Was Luther Wrong?
The primary reason Luther was wrong is due to his rejection of due authority which God Himself put in place. I can hear the Protestants, especially the Lutherans now, stating how Luther was right because he stood up to corrupted authority. To a point, I have to agree! There WERE some problems in the Catholic hierarchy at the time and there was definitely some need for "reform." Now we can banter all around about how "wrong" each side was - but ultimately you do not "reform" a church when you're no longer part of it and WANT no part of it!
The Errors of Luther (condemned by Pope Leo X on June 15, 1520 via papal bull Exsurge Domini).
1. It is a heretical opinion, but a common one, that the sacraments of the New Law give pardoning grace to those who do not set up an obstacle.
The sacraments of the New Law, especially the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) does indeed provide pardoning grace for those who do not set up an obstacle! If ones confession is contrite and not withholding sin - then the confessee indeed receives pardoning grace (Sanctifying Grace) and his soul is made pure again through the absolution given by one validly empowered to grant absolution. (John 20:23)
2. To deny that in a child after baptism sin remains is to treat with contempt both Paul and Christ.While a child may be released from Original Sin by the Sacrament of Baptism (another sacrament which bestows pardoning grace to those who do not set up an obstacle, which an infant could not do) this does not change the fact that the child has a corrupt/fallen nature - however, all sin IS gone. Original Sin is washed away and before the "age of reason" the child has no ability to commit Actual Sin.
3. The inflammable sources of sin, even if there be no actual sin, delay a soul departing from the body from entrance into heaven.It is possible, but maybe improbable, that one may be in such a state of grace at the time of their death that there is no impediment for entering Heaven. We know of at least two such souls, from the Old Testament, who did not even die - and were bodily assumed into Heaven (Enoch and Elijah).
4. To one on the point of death imperfect charity necessarily brings with it great fear, which in itself alone is enough to produce the punishment of purgatory, and impedes entrance into the kingdom.Luther seemed to have a great struggle with his own fears and sins and it is definitely an error to impute his fears upon others.
5. That there are three parts to penance: contrition, confession, and satisfaction, has no foundation in Sacred Scripture nor in the ancient sacred Christian doctors.The first two are obvious - there can be no forgiveness if one is not contrite and does not confess his sins to one empowered to forgive sins (John 20:23). As for "satisfaction" - I must assume Luther refers to "doing the penance" - which is really part of contrition for in doing the penance one demonstrates beyond the mere words that they are contrite.
6. Contrition, which is acquired through discussion, collection, and detestation of sins, by which one reflects upon his years in the bitterness of his soul, by pondering over the gravity of sins, their number, their baseness, the loss of eternal beatitude, and the acquisition of eternal damnation, this contrition makes him a hypocrite, indeed more a sinner.For a "General Confession" one would go back throughout their life to reflect upon all sins, but this would only be done ONCE - not repeatedly. Once absolution is given, sins are forgiven. It is my perception that Luther had a real problem with sin and just how forgiveness was imparted to those who follow Christ.
7. It is a most truthful proverb and the doctrine concerning the contritions given thus far is the more remarkable: "Not to do so in the future is the highest penance; the best penance, a new life."One could use that as a self-imposed penance - but the "highest penance" is that which comes from your confessor! It is THAT penance which demonstrates true contrition and ultimately forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Penance - how could any penance be "higher" than that which is part of a Sacrament instituted by Christ to dispense grace?
8. By no means may you presume to confess venial sins, nor even all mortal sins, because it is impossible that you know all mortal sins. Hence in the primitive Church only manifest mortal sins were confessed.It is the responsibility of the faithful Christian to not willfully withhold any mortal sin from the confessional! If one willfully does so then this person is not truly contrite for their sins - and thus rather than enjoying the graces bestowed by the Sacrament of Penance - they would actually be heaping coals of judgment upon themselves in not making a worthy or valid confession. Now, if a mortal sin happened to slip ones mind and was not confessed - it is STILL FORGIVEN in the absolution, for Christ through His priest declares ALL your sins are forgiven! If such a sin were later remembered and it concerned the person, then they should meet with their confessor to discuss it - and not necessarily in a formal confession (but it may turn into that, depending upon how the confessor feels).
9. As long as we wish to confess all sins without exception, we are doing nothing else than to wish to leave nothing to God's mercy for pardon.This is an error because the desire to confess all sins without exception is PRECISELY throwing ourselves at the Mercy Seat of God and begging forgiveness!
10. Sins are not forgiven to anyone, unless when the priest forgives them he believes they are forgiven; on the contrary the sin would remain unless he believed it was forgiven; for indeed the remission of sin and the granting of grace does not suffice, but it is necessary also to believe that there has been forgiveness.
This is not true because the priest need not believe sins are forgiven! If the priest, speaking alter christus (as Christ) declares the sins forgiven - ultimately it is not the priest who forgives the sin - but Christ Himself THROUGH the priest.
(End of Part 1)