Saint Joan -The First Protestant?
A very large number of Protestant denominations claim John Wycliff, (1320? - 1484), as the founder of their religious point of view. Yet, these self-same people claim Saint Joan was also one of the first Protestants. I dispute this and will show their mistake by comparing what John Wycliff believed with what we know St. Joan believed.
The statements of John Wycliff's beliefs about the Catholic Church came from the "New Advent Encyclopedia" article that can be found at this site: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15722a.htm
1) Wycliff believed that the church was far too interested in worldly authority, and thus had forfeited its spiritual authority because of its greed for worldly riches and political power.
Joan never said one word against any Bishop or Cardinal for the way they lived or how they spent their money. I challenge any one to find one document that says otherwise.
Nor did she ever state that The Roman Catholic Church had lost its spiritual authority. In addition she never said that The Roman Catholic Church had no authority over her. Instead the facts show the exact opposite was true. Joan willingly submitted to the authority of the Bishop of Toul as well as the Authority of the Archbishop of Reims' commission. As well as the authority that Father Pasquerel, her personal chaplain, held over her.
At her trial in Rouen one could, if one chooses to do so, contend that Joan was denying the authority of The Roman Catholic Church; but this would be a gross distortion of the truth. Why?
Because Joan knew full well that the Churchmen who were seated in judgment over her did not represent The Roman Catholic Church but were in fact serving the interests of The King of England. She knew that she would not get a fair trial at their hands and so she refused to submit to their authority.
[All of Joan's quotes that I use in this article come from her 1431 Trial of Condemnation. This trial record can be accessed here. http://www.stjoan-center.com/Trials/#condemnation]
Here is a quote that Joan made on March 15th: "Let my answers be seen and examined by the Clergy, then let them tell me if there be anything against the Christian Faith."
Please note that Joan did not say, 'let my answers be seen and examined by this court she said -"the Clergy," which means the hierarchy and the priests of the Roman Catholic Church.
On April 18th the Rouen Court asked: "Will you refer or submit yourself to the Church of Poitiers, where you were examined?"
Joan replied: "Do you think you will take me in that way, and draw me to you by it?"
This statement conclusively shows, just how much Joan distrusted the Rouen judges.
Throughout her trial, Joan begged to be taken to a court that had equal representation from the French as well as from the English and Burgundian sides. This request was always denied her.
In addition she begged the Rouen Court to bring her before the Pope of Rome.
March 17th Joan said: "Very well; let me be taken before him, (the Pope) and I will answer before him all I ought to answer."
April 18th Joan said: "Take me to him, (the Pope) I will reply to him."
May 24th Joan stated: "Let them (my words) be sent to Rome to our Holy Father the Pope, to whom after God I refer me as to my words and deeds…."
Again on May 24th she said: "I refer me to God and to our Holy Father the Pope."
2) Wycliff was an outspoken opponent of the papacy; he called the Pope "the Anti-Christ, the proud, worldly priest of Rome, and the most cursed of robbers and pick-pockets."
Joan never denounced the Holy Father. I quote her March 1st statement: "But for myself, I hold and believe that we should obey our Lord the Pope who is in Rome…. As for me, I believe in our Lord the Pope who is at Rome."
3) Wycliff opposed the teaching of transubstantiation. That is the claim that Jesus is physically, bodily, present in the bread and wine of communion; that Christians literally eat the body and blood of Jesus at the Lord’s table. He believed that Jesus was spiritually present in the Lord’s Supper, not physically present.
Joan attended Mass every day and willingly received The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Communion at every opportunity that was afforded her.
As proof of her believe in the TRUE PRESENCE of Jesus in Holy Communion I quote Joan from her Trial For Relapse. "I have resumed it (her male clothing) because what had been promised me has not been observed, to wit that I should go to Mass and should receive The Body of Christ…." This term, 'The Body of Christ,' is very Catholic and it affirms the belief in Jesus' TRUE PRESENCE in "Holy Communion, The Holy Eucharist and The Blessed Sacrament" - all three terms are one and the same.
The following statements come from THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
(Paragraph #1376) The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."
(Paragraph #1413) By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the BODY and BLOOD of CHRIST is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ HIMSELF, Living and Glorious, IS present in a true, real and substantial manner: HIS Body and HIS Blood, with HIS Soul and HIS Divinity. (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640 - 1651)
4) Wycliff condemned the showing of any sings of respect to the saints as an affront to God.
(Catholics do NOT worship Mary or any of the other Saints - despite what Protestants may mistakenly think about this subject. We do honor the Saints because they are very special friends and servants of GOD. We do believe that the souls who are in Heaven are alive in Christ. Catholics don't worship statues as if these images had any power of their own. Statues and paintings serve the same purpose as a photo in your wallet - they are only reminders of those we love.)
Joan knelt and prayed before statues of the Blessed Mother and different saints each and ever day. Here are several examples of Joan calling on God, The Blessed Mother and Saints.
Joan said on March 15th:"I beseech you, for the honor of God and Our Lady, permit me to hear Mass in this good town."
March 15th Joan said: "I do it in honor of God, of Our Lady, and of Saint Catherine who is in Heaven, and of her who appears to me."
March 17th Joan said: "I refer myself to God, Who sent me, to Our Lady, and to all the Saints in Paradise. And in my opinion it is all one, God and the Church; and one should make no difficulty about it. Why do you make a difficulty?"
Joan said on March 26th: "I call upon God and Our Lady that they send me counsel...."
As Joan was being lead to the place of execution she continually called upon the help of the Saints and The Blessed Mother. What Protestant would kneel before a statue, never mind calling on the help of the Saints and The Blessed Mother when they were about to die?
5) Wycliff also believed that every man has access to God, and doesn’t need a priest to get to God.
It is important to remember that throughout her 'Mission', while in active service or in prison, Joan had continuous access to God and HIS guidance through her 'Voices.' Joan knew she had, and often experienced, direct access to God without relying on priests. Nevertheless Joan eagerly received, at the hands of a Priest, the Sacraments of The Roman Catholic Church. Joan did not refuse the services of a private chaplain but kept Father Jean Pasquerel near her at all times. What Protestant would keep a Roman Catholic Priest by their side?
6) Wycliff thought that it was more important to worship God in spirit and truth rather than with impressive traditions.
At every moment of her life Joan followed every teaching and every tradition of The Roman Catholic Church. Joan was never a Protestant in ANY sense of the word because she never denied any of the dogmas of The Roman Catholic Church.
What do I mean by the word dogma?
Dogma is: "a truth appertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in the Scriptures or by tradition, and proposed by The Roman Catholic Church for the acceptance of the faithful."
Clearly, Jehanne was not guilty of heresy and/or schism, at least according to Saint Thomas' understanding!
If you would like to learn for yourself exactly what St. Thomas Aquinas taught on the subjects of: heresy, schism, obedience, disobedience and the wearing of male attire for women; please make your search at this Catholic web site: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/