Halloween, 31 October 1517
Corruption in the Catholic Church was so endemic that it was even possible to bribe one's way directly into heaven and jump lingering souls out of purgatory, no matter the seriousness of sins, by paying for a free entry ticket. In 1516–17, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and papal commissioner, sold the free ride tickets as indulgences. Supposedly, the money was needed to rebuild St Peter's Basilica in Rome and raising the cash was not bound by any moral limits.
Tetzel became the straw that broke the camel's back and caused monk- theologian, Martin Luther to spring into action. Note: Martin Luther was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk and seminal figure and became the leader of the Protestant Reformation (1483-1546). Much later, his work inspired the American minister, Michael King. King was so impressed that he changed his and his son's names following a 1934 trip to Germany attending the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin, and become known as Martin Luther King.
The legend tells us that on 31 October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against Tetzel's sale of indulgences. His protest became known as "The 95 Theses." Supposedly, by local academic custom, Luther nailed the 95 statements onto the chapel doors of Wittenburg, the "Church of All Saints," on the eve of Halloween.
It changed the world forever, including your very world today. Jean Cauvin of Geneva, known in the Low Lands as Johannes Calvin ( 1509-1564), elaborated on Luther's anti-corruption initiative by an entire set of new ethics. Personal responsibility, diligent work ethics, and a sober lifestyle became extremely desirable and still dominate Western work ethics. These values became the backbone of the great economic success of the West.
Even today, the map of the non-Luther-Calvin world overlaps nearly exactly all areas of chaos, corruption, crime, and poverty, especially in Latin and South America. If one can buy eternal life with a little money, then everything else must be purchasable. Corruption became part of the general ethics in many of those countries. The Roman Catholic Church and the regimes they supported were never able to shake off the stain of corruption, lavish spending on grand luxury, and laziness at the expense of the masses.
On Halloween night, the good and diligent chase out evil ghosts, cobwebs, and devils from their dwellings and prepare for a safe winter.
In the name of Luther and Calvin, please have the courage to clean out the dung-filled stables of your governments as well.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle