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NOTE: I wrote this speech for my own amusement after I found a book on the Counter-Reformation at school. This election is based on the election for the papacy following the death of Clement VII. This is the stump speech for Cardinal Alexander Farnese.
In 1517, a monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg Castle. This, in conjunction with weak leadership from Pope Leo X, led to the Protestant Reformation. Previous popes have made the grave mistake of underestimating Luther; I assure you that if I become the Pope, I will not make the fatal mistake of underestimating Luther and his values.
Luther’s heretical ideas have pushed northern Europe even further away from the Church. Even as we stand here, Protestantism inches ever closer to Rome. We must find a way to halt this threat.
Thus, if I become the Pope, I would immediately bring back the Inquisition and bring Luther before it under charges of heresy. If we eliminate Luther, Protestantism will be stopped in its tracks. However, Protestantism would still remain in northern Europe. Therefore, our next course of action would be to place all pro-Protestant literature on an Index of Forbidden Books. If the common people cannot read about the poisonous ideas of the Protestants, then they will not succumb to it.
However, to fight the enemy, we must know the enemy.
Luther’s heretical ideas involve changing four basic tenets of the Church. He suggests that Christians do not need the clergy to explain the Bible. Heresy, indeed! Not only that, but he also reduces the power of clergymen by cutting down the number of sacrements to two. He shocked me by casting doubt on the Pope’s power to have the final say in Church matters. Basically, he is in favour of the elimination of the hierarchical structure of the Church. In addition, he deemphasizes the importance of the religious life, which is absolutely ridiculous. Lastly, he believes that good works are not necessary for salvation, but faith is. Of course good works are needed! It is not up to us to initiate salvation, but it is up to God. Logically, God would need the “ocular proof”. As you can see, these teachings of Luther are absolutely dangerous to the Church and Christians!
What can the Church do to combat this threat that gains strength as time progresses?
When I become the Pope, the first thing I will do is immediately establish the Inquisition in the Papal States and establish the Council of Trent for reconciliation with the Protestants. Although they are misguided, salvation is still within their grasp. I would also support the Society of Jesus. They have been doing fantastic missionary work overseas and excellent work here at home by attempting to win back the Protestants. If we are to have any hope of securing reconciliation with the Protestants, we need the Society of Jesus.
It is also imperative that we stress that power belongs to the Pope and the Church. Matthew 16:18-19 says that “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Since Peter was the leader of the apostles, and Peter founded the Church, power logically belongs to us.
In addition, I believe that we should only side with Catholic states if and only if they are under invasion by Protestant states. If the Church sides with Catholic states while they are invading Protestant states, or if we side with Catholic states too early, we risk alienating the Protestants forever. We must make an effort to reconcile with the Protestants. In any case, if I become Pope, I would denounce and reject wars, as Jesus himself would not have wanted war between Christians.
In these times, Protestantism is not the only threat the Church faces. Problems within the Church, such as the sale of indulgences and simony, threaten to consume the Church from the inside. But what can we do?
Because Protestants use the sale of indulgences as a weapon to point out flaws within the Church, we must forbid the sale of indulgences. Although they have been immensely popular and have given the Church a significant amount of income, they need to be eliminated. Allowing the sale of indulgences undermines the Church’s attempts at internal reform. Furthermore, banning simony would change the public perception that the Church is corrupt. I have full confidence that these two things would stop the Protestant movement, or at least contain in it in northern Europe.
Another criticism of the Church is that the clergy are not well-educated. Allegations of this are widespread across Europe. Thus, we must train worthy people to be clergymen in seminaries. By doing this, we take away a Protestant talking point. It is imperative that the Church has a good reputation and image so that the Protestants cannot have significant traction with their criticisms. If the Protestants cannot have significant traction with their attacks on the Church, then their movement will start to falter.
Clearly, we need change.
In a few short days, you, the cardinals, will vote for the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. In these dark times, the Church needs a strong Pope to halt the spread of Protestantism. We need a strong Pope who will convince Christians of the necessity of the Church. We need a Pope who will guide us through these dark times. We need a Pope who can fight Luther with his own weapon: words.
The time to act has come.
I am Alexander Farnese, and I am ready to lead. I am ready for change.