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Historic Lutheran – Roman Catholic meeting

Historic Lutheran – Roman Catholic meeting

Today in Malmö, Sweden, the Roman Catholic Pope and Lutheran leaders will hold a joint service of commemoration of the Reformation. You can watch it live streamed here. UPDATE: the service can be seen here now.

From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

On Oct. 31, 2016, we will make history. Lutherans and Catholics from around the world will come together for the anniversary of the Reformation. The Lutheran-Catholic commemoration will take place in Lund, Sweden, with a Common Prayer service lead by Pope Francis, The Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan and its general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Martin Junge.

Launching the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017, a joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration will take place in Lund and Malmö, Sweden, on Oct. 31, 2016. The Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) are hosting the event, highlighting solid ecumenical developments and the joint gifts received through dialogue.

Pope Francis, The Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan and its general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, will lead the Common Prayer service in Lund and the event in Malmö in cooperation with leaders from the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm. This historic event will bring together Lutherans and Catholics from around the world to commemorate the Reformation and look to the future.

From Crux, a Roman Catholic news source:

When, on this day 499 years ago, a small-town Augustinian friar lecturing in a start-up college in provincial Germany posted dozens of arguments on the door of a castle church, he offered a prime example of what scientists call “the butterfly effect,” namely that small causes can have large effects.

In reality, Martin Luther’s nailing (or more likely gluing) his hard-to-read 95 theses on what was, in effect, Wittenberg university’s bulletin board, was less the trigger of the Reformation than the copies he posted, together with an accompanying letter of breathtaking audacity.

… at Worms, when Luther in 1521 was called on to answer to the emperor. His extraordinarily courageous act of turning up and defying the might of state and Church won many hearts and minds, and gave birth to a revolutionary movement that soon span out of control.

It wasn’t just the authorities’ self-interested over-reaction, but Luther’s own mercurial psychology – tripped by the knowledge that he faced execution at any moment – that explains the series of events, movements and conflicts that we now call the Reformation. But whatever its causes, the result was tragedy. A valid critique of genuine corruption descended into heresy, division and war.

Five things the Pope brings to the relationship according to Crux author, Austen Ivereigh

First, he is … a “great reformer,” one who sees the need for the Church to be always in need of renewal in response both to internal degradation and external needs.

Second, he comes with no fear or suspicion of Lutherans but decades of fellowship.

Third, he feels no obligation to remain within the boundaries of existing theological consensus. In his Signum interview, Francis approvingly quoted what Patriach Athenagoras allegedly told Pope Paul VI: “Let the two of us go ahead, and we will put the theologians on an island to discuss among themselves.”

Fourth, Francis has a specific abhorrence of the kind of corruption Luther denounced.

Finally, Francis is the pope who, more than any other leader of the Catholic Church in modern times. has restored the primacy of mercy to the Church’s proclamation. The whole point of mercy is that it is about God’s reckless forgiving and our complete inability to merit it.

From Anglican Communion News Service

Through the Porvoo Communion, the Church of Sweden is in full communion with several Anglican churches, including the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, the Lusitanian Church of Portugal, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, and the Church in Wales. Elsewhere across the globe, other Anglican churches are in varying degrees of unity and communion with other Lutheran churches.

“We are on our way from conflict to communion,” Archbishop Antje Jackelén, leader of the Church of Sweden, said at a press conference, referencing the ground-breaking 2013 joint report between the two churches. “We are going to express our joy and gratitude for what we have in common: namely, the Gospel of Jesus Christ which unites us – that can be celebrated never enough.

“But there are also things that we definitely do not want to celebrate; but to repent and express our lament and sorrow; and that is, of course, the pain that division has caused throughout so many centuries.”



Image: Archbishop Antje Jackelén and Pope Francis


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Prof Christopher Seitz

What a congenial account from Crux.

Of course the start-up university idea was predated by lots of heroic efforts by the Augustinian monk from his loyal catholic days. But that is a minor thing in an otherwise positive RC article on Luther.

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