An Anniversary in Communion
(…) “It brings me immense joy to be here today, bearing witness to the work of the Holy Spirit sowing unity among the followers of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit, in the words of Martin Luther, ‘calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in unity with Jesus Christ in the one true faith’. Today, in Lund and in Malmö, we are experiencing the modern miracle of the Holy Spirit as the disciples experienced it in my hometown Jerusalem two thousand years ago. […]
We thank the Triune God that we are moving from conflict to communion. Our historic gathering today is sending a message to the entire world that strongly held religious commitments can lead toward reconciliation rather than always contributing more conflict to our already troubled world. When religious people work for unity and reconciliation, religion can promote the flourishing of all human communities.”
From the address by Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, Lund, 31st October 2016
An Anniversary in Communion – Commemoration of the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation
In an article posted in the Vatican daily newspaper Osservatore Romano on 17th January 2017, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity explains the significance of the Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation.
In the article, Koch reflects on the ecumenical prayer of Pope Francis in Lund on 31st October 2016 with Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, on the occasion of the Reformation anniversary. This historical prayer “was on the one hand received with gratitude and on the other hand faced criticism and opposition. Whilst some Catholics were concerned about a possible Protestant drift of Catholicism, some Protestants spoke of a betrayal of the Reformation”. For Cardinal Koch, however, the commemoration of this anniversary “presents itself as a welcome invitation to dialogue about that which the Catholics can learn from the Reformation and the Protestants can draw from the Catholic Church as an enrichment to their own faith”, overcoming any polemic or partial tone.
In his time, Martin Luther “did not wish for a fall out with the Catholic Church and for the establishment of a new Church. Instead his vision was that of a renewal of the whole of Christianity in the Spirit of the Gospel. (…) The fact that at the time this vision was impossible to fulfil is due partially to political factors”.
For Cardinal Koch, the occasion of the 2017 anniversary commemoration ought therefore to be understood as an “invitation to return to the original vision of Martin Luther”, a vision seen in the light of three key-concepts: gratitude for the 50 years of intense dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, repentance accompanied by purification of historical memory and hope, that a joint commemoration of the Reformation might allow for “making further steps towards a binding ecclesial communion. The latter must remain the objective of every ecumenical effort which is the reason why also the commemoration of the Reformation has this as its ultimate aim. After one hundred and fifty years of division, after having lived for many years turning against or remaining indifferent to each other, we must now learn to live with each other, linked together by strong bonds, and this we ought to do, starting today.”
(Summary of Beatriz Lauenroth)