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Johann Von Staupitz

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Abbot, born at Motterwitz near Leisnig (or Moderwitz near Meustadt an der Orla) about 1460; died at Salzburg, 28 Dec., 1524. He was descended from an ancient family of Saxony, studied at Leipzig, and was matriculated in 1485. He later joined the Augustinian Order, probably at Munich, and in 1497 moved to Tübingen, where in 1498 he became prior and in 1500 Doctor of Theology. He was subsequently prior at Munich, and in 1503 was elected Vicar-General of the German Congregation of Augustinians and summoned as professor to the new University of Wittenberg, in which he was the first dean of the theological faculty. In 1512 he resigned his professorship, and moved to South Germany, where he thenceforth resided (at Munich, Nuremberg, and Salzburg ), except for some journeys to the Netherlands and Belgium. He resigned the office of vicar-general in 1520, received a dispensation to join the Benedictines in 1522, and finally became Abbot of St. Peter's, Salzburg. On a tour of visitation he had become acquainted with Luther in the monastery at Erfurt, and had consoled the emaciated brother, who was torturing himself with his sinfulness, by speaking to him of the sin-remitting grace of God and man's redemption in the Blood of Christ. For this Luther remained always grateful. In 1518 he was deputed by the promagister of the order to remonstrate with the heretic Luther. Luther remained obstinate and through Staupitz sent an explanation of his theses on indulgences to Rome. This circumstance has led some to include Staupitz among Luther's followers. In reality his attitude was hesitating -- being partly suspicious and anxious, and partly encouraging and confirmatory -- because he still believed that it was only a question of a protest against ecclesiastical abuses. By releasing Luther from obedience to the order, he separated its fate from that of Luther, but also gave the latter freedom of action. In 1520 revocation and abjuration were demanded of Staupitz; he hesitated at first, because there was no need to revoke what he had never asserted, but finally declared that he recognized the pope as his judge. Luther saw in this declaration a defection. However, Staupitz was no Lutheran but thoroughly Catholic in matters of faith (especially as regards the freedom of the will, the meritoriousness of good works, and justification). This has been established by Paulus from the writings of Staupitz.

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