I was amused to note one example of Rome’s improvisational informal magisterium at work to poach another Reformed slogan. It’s not one of the slogans that the first generation reformers used (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Sola Deo Gloria), but one that became popular in the 17th century:

“Ecclesia reformata quia semper reformanda est” (“The Church is Reformed, because Always Reforming”) – Jodocus von Lodenstein (Dutch Reformed Theologian 1620-1677)

“Numquam reformata quia numquam deformata” (“Never reformed because never deformed”) – Pope Innocent XI (pope from 1676 to 1689) (speaking of the Carthusian order)

“Always reforming, always in need of reform.” – Steve Ray (calling it “One of the Church’s mottos”)(source – H.T. to James Swan for pointing this out to me) (see also “The Catholic Church is in need of reform and always reforming.” “The Church is like a roller coaster zooming through the centuries. There are high points and low points. The Church is always reforming and always in need of reform.

Steve Ray’s main quotation is right, but only because he said “the Church” and not “Rome.” It’s a very popular motto of a number of the Reformed churches, especially the Presbyterian churches, which make up (together with all those churches that profess faith in Christ alone for salvation) the visible Church. It’s not a particularly popular slogan among the popes, especially not Innocent XI.

Of course, obviously, “reformation” is not necessarily a dirty word in Catholicism. Trent’s purpose was, among other things, reformation:

Doth it please you, –unto the praise and glory of the holy and undivided Trinity, Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; for the increase and exaltation of the Christian faith and religion; for the extirpation of heresies; for the peace and union of the Church; for the reformation of the Clergy and Christian people; for the depression and extinction of the enemies of the Christian name,– to decree and declare that the sacred and general council of Trent do begin, and hath begun?
They answered: It pleaseth us.

– Trent, Decree Touching the Opening of the Council.

To the extent that Mr. Ray was recognizing that his church is in need of reform, Praise be to God that he has recognized this and if God brings another great Reformation, we will rejoice!

Until then we will note that Rome’s motto has been the false claim: Semper Eadem (Always the Same)

Whereas the Reformed churches have sought to have the motto: Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei – for it is Verbum Dei (the word of God) that is truly semper eadem (always the same), and men and churches need to submit to the Word of God and reform themselves to it, whenever they discover they have strayed from it.


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