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 Jan Ostróg

Jan Ostroróg ( 1436 -1501 )

( Poland's leading Social Reformer in the 15th Century - fifty years before Luther )

On Tithing

    God commanded that tithes be given; He commanded it, I do not deny, to Aaron and the Levites, to whom He had given the spiritual law, but He did not command that they be extorted from laymen, as it happens nowadays, so that tithes are collected not without injustice to the donors. There was a time when they were given by the rich, but not by the poor, while now poor peasants give them to those who are well provided for and well fed, who take them haughtily. Are these words observed: "I want compassion--not sacrifices!" Therefore if someone wants to accept a gift, let him take it when a donor feels like offering it, according to his will, not the receiver's.

On Payments Made to the Pope

    A painful and inhuman burden also oppresses the Kingdom of Poland, which is otherwise completely free, in another way, because we allow ourselves to be cheated and deceived to such a degree by the constant cunning of the Italians, and under the guise of piety, which is rather a falsification of teaching and a superstition: we permit big sums of money to be sent annually to the Roman court, as they call it, in the payment of a big tribute, called the bishop's tribute or the annates. Whenever a new bishop is appointed in the diocese, he will not be consecrated until he first makes a payment of a few thousand gilders to the pope in Rome, even though the sacred canons teach that the newly appointed bishop should be consecrated and confirmed by the archbishop and the bishops. The cunning and sly Italians usurped this power for themselves while we yawn and fall asleep. It is known that the German and Polish noblemen allowed the Apostolic See to collect the annates for only a few years in order to restrain the enemies of the Christian faith and to check the cruel Turk in his attacks. And this is certain: these few allotted years have long since passed, and the annates destined for other uses are channelled elsewhere. It is therefore necessary to stop this false piety, and the pope should not be a tyrant under the cloak of faith, but on the contrary, a benevolent father, just as merciful as the one whom he claims to represent on earth.

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