Lutherans and Roman Catholics are preparing to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In preparation, the primate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden is visiting Pope Francis. The catch, the primate is a woman. The Most Revd Antje Jackelén is the first female primate of the Church of Sweden. She is the Archbishop of Uppsala. Antje is the first female primate welcomed for an official audience with a pope.
In his welcome remarks to Archbishop Antje, Francis called her Dear Sister. For all practical purposes he appeared to treat her as his equal. He welcomed her as he has the male primates and prelates he has received. The Pope lamented the damage caused by the reformation’s split in Western Christendom. He recounted the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism. He emphasized that it is still the foundation of the Roman church’s ecumenical efforts. Francis stated that Roman Catholics and Protestants shouldn’t view one another as competitors. They should treat one another as brothers and sisters in faith.
Francis also recalled the recently issued document from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity. He expressed his wish that From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 would encourage further steps towards Christian unity.
The Pope’s words contained a subtle warning with regard to Western Christian ecumenism. Issues regarding family, marriage and sexuality shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of current ecumenical consensus. He said that it would be sad if these issues caused new confessional differences.
Francis may not be as welcoming to the first openly GLBT primate wanting to visit him!
The photo is from +Antje’s Twitter account
Posted by David Allen