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Why was martin luther excommunicated and declared a heretic?

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  • Principally, this was because he objected to the sale of indulgences by the Church
  • The Church (i.e., the Archbishop of Mainz) was selling indulgences (get people out of purgatory and into Heaven) ( "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs.") ... and this rankled with Luther.
  • Strongly disputing the claim that freedom from God's punishment of sin could be purchased with money, he confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor.

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