In a surprising show of support for a Catholic priest who renounced Catholicism and was the key person in sparking the birth of the Protestant faith in 1517, the Vatican has given its support to a central Rome square being named after Martin Luther, a church reformer excommunicated by the Pope some 500 years ago, the Catholic News website reports today (August 26, 2015).
A German Catholic priest and theologian, Luther caused much controversy by challenging the authority of the Catholic Church. He was especially opposed to the Catholic Church's sale of indulgences, which were believed to lessen the time a deceased person would spend in purgatory before going to heaven.
He denounced the corruption he saw among clergy in Rome and believed salvation came through faith alone -- views that did not sit well with Pope Leo X.
Luther was excommunicated in 1521 and was never allowed to return to the Catholic Church, but today the Vatican has become broad-minded -- as opposed to its inflexibility in the past -- and is more accepting of other faiths. Next month a hilltop square in Rome is due to be named Piazza Martin Lutero, in memory of Luther's achievements. The site chosen is the Oppian Hill, a park area that overlooks the Colosseum.