On Reformation Day, the Vatican announced that it was releasing a commemorative stamp of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. In the background of the stamp is the town of Wittenberg, and in the foreground, Luther and Melanchthon kneel at the foot of the cross. It is pictured above. The description given it by the Vatican says…
“With a penitential disposition, kneeling respectively on the left and right of the cross, Martin Luther holds the Bible, source and destination of his doctrine, while Philipp Melanchthon, theologian and friend of Martin Luther, one of the main protagonists of the reform, holds in hand the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana), the first official public presentation of the principles of protestantism written by him.”
Pope Leo X declared Luther a heretic in Exurge Domine, and described him as “one whose faith is notoriously suspect and in fact a true heretic.” You can read this 1520 Papal Bull accusing Luther of heresy here. The anathemas of Trent declared all Protestants anathema. It is incredibly strange that the Vatican would compliment Luther with a commemorative stamp.
While it was first reported in January that the Pope was giving a stamp to Luther this year, the Vatican waited until Reformation Day to unveil it.
Mainstream Catholics are trying to make sense of it. Below is Michael Hichborn, who runs the Roman Catholic Lepanto Institute, expressing his frustration.