(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ visit to Rome’s Lutheran church on Sunday reflects the “very good” ecumenical relations that have developed as Lutherans and Catholics prepare to commemorate together the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
That’s the view of Rev Martin Junge, General Secretary of the World Lutheran Federation which is working together with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on a joint 500th anniversary event to be held in Sweden in October 2016.
The event will build on the substantial progress presented in the 2013 joint document ‘From Conflict to Communion’ designed as a resource for Catholics and Lutherans marking both 500 years since the Reformation and 50 years since the start of the official dialogue between the two global Christian communities. That publication presents new perspectives on the theology of Martin Luther, explores controversial questions such as indulgencies and sets out five ecumenical imperatives for witnessing to the Gospel together.
Rev Martin Junge talked to Philippa Hitchen about his hopes for the forthcoming anniversary event and about the importance of Pope Francis’ visit to the local Lutheran community in Rome....
Rev Junge says he is very encouraged by the Pope’s visit to the local Lutheran congregation in Rome, following in the tradition begun by his predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II. This tradition, he says, reflects the “very good moment of Lutheran-Catholic relations” at global level, following on from the publication, two years ago, of the joint document ‘From Conflict to Communion’ setting out the way in which Lutherans and Catholics will be marking the anniversary of the Reformation together.
The Lutheran leader says he’s also very encouraged that the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has accepted the request to jointly host an ecumenical event to “express what we found out together in the dialogue report and make that public and accessible and visible and ‘experiencable’ for everybody”. That event will take place on October 31st 2016 and further details will be announced as the preparations progress.
Asked about the divisions and conflict provoked by the Reformation, Rev Junge says Catholics and Lutherans can now celebrate the Gospel together and also affirm the “positive contributions and insights that the Lutheran Reformation brought to the surface in the body of Christ”. However he says we cannot be blind to the divisions and the way in which those conflicts became aligned with the political struggles in Europe of that time, causing a lot of suffering to families and communities.
At the same time, he says, we want to “look ahead together into what is our common faith calling us” as we witness to the Gospel in our fragmented world, so in need of compassion, hope and encouragement….
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