Pope Francis receives the delegation from the World Lutheran Federation




25 January 2016

[ Emphasis and {Commentary} in red type by Abyssum ]

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Catholic Church will hold a joint ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation on 31 October 2016 in Lund, Sweden.

Pope Francis, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge will lead the Ecumenical Commemoration in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.

The joint ecumenical event will take place in the city of Lund in anticipation of the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017. It will highlight the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue. The event will include a common worship based on the recently published Catholic-Lutheran “Common Prayer” liturgical guide.

“The LWF is approaching the Reformation anniversary in a spirit of ecumenical accountability,” says LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge. “I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence.”

Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) explains further: “By concentrating together on the centrality of the question of God and on a Christocentric approach, Lutherans and Catholics will have the possibility of an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation, not simply in a pragmatic way, but in the deep sense of faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ.

“It is with joy and expectation that the Church of Sweden welcomes The Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church to hold the joint commemoration of the Reformation in Lund,” says Church of Sweden Archbishop Antje Jackelén. “We shall pray together with the entire ecumenical family in Sweden that the commemoration will contribute to Christian unity in our country and throughout the world.”

“The ecumenical situation in our part of the world is unique and interesting. I hope that this meeting will help us look to the future so that we can be witnesses of Jesus Christ and His gospel in our secularized world,” says Anders Arborelius OCD, Bishop of the Catholic Church in Sweden.

The Lund event is part of the reception process of the study document From Conflict to Communion, which was published in 2013, and has since been widely distributed to Lutheran and Catholic communities. The document is the first attempt by both dialogue partners to describe together at international level the history of the Reformation and its intentions.

Earlier this year, the LWF and PCPCU sent to LWF member churches and  Catholic Bishops’ Conferences a jointly prepared “Common Prayer”, which is a liturgical guide to help churches commemorate the Reformation anniversary together. It is based on the study document From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017, and features the themes of thanksgiving, repentance and commitment to common witness with the aim of expressing the gifts of the Reformation and asking forgiveness for the division which followed theological disputes.

The year 2017 will also mark 50 years of the international Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, which has yielded notable ecumenical results, of which most significant is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). The JDDJ was signed by the LWF and the Catholic Church in 1999, and affirmed by the World Methodist Council in 2006. The declaration nullified centuries’ old disputes between Catholics and Lutherans over the basic truths of the doctrine of justification, which was at the center of the 16th century Reformation.

{I for one am very pleased with the progress that has been made in the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue over the past 50 years.  Progress has been much slower than it was with the Catholic-Anglican and Catholic-Orthodox dialogues.  Certainly the goal set by the Vatican Council II is being met. 

BUT, I can see no justification for the Catholic Church to CELEBRATE the beginning of the Protestant Reformatio in the 16th Century. Too many lives have been lost through martyrdom (think of the English martyrs) and too much suffering has been experience by too many people over the past 500 years for the Catholic Church to be CELEBRATING THE START OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION.  We can celebrate the progress toward Christian Unity being made today, but we cannot celebrate the past.}


What Exactly is There for Catholics to Celebrate about Martin Luther?

Posted: 26 Jan 2016 11:10 AM PST

Following the intercommunion with the Lutherans recently at the Vatican, it should come as no surprise that the pontiff will travel to Lund, Sweden in October to open the 500th anniversary year commemorating Martin Luther’s revolt against the Church. [Source] Remember that Martin Luther was condemned for heresy and excommunicated. His actions spurred violence throughout Europe and spawned numerous other heretical sects. Many saints arose as they lay down their lives to provide the Mass in places like England and the Netherlands where persecution was rampant. I wonder — will the commemoration include references to them or would that put a damper on the Luther love fest?

Reuters predicts “Traditionalist anger.” Is that anger, in fact, one more example of “rigid” Catholics married to “absolute truth” who act like “idolaters and rebels” for resisting “change” or is it the normal reaction of real Catholics who believe in the fullness of the truth and love both Holy Mother Church and the papacy? After what happened at the Vatican recently the “commemoration” may very well include a Catholic Mass where Lutherans are welcomed to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. Even if it doesn’t, is there a problem with the pope participating in this “commemoration?”

Well, let’s take a look at the word itself. The common understanding of the verb to commemorate means “to recall and show respect for something or someone.” [source] Commemorate comes from the Latin words cum: with or together and memorare: remember or be mindful of. The connotation of the definition is to remember in order to honor and celebrate. At the tomb of the unknown soldier in Arlington we commemorate all the soldiers killed in wars who could not be identified and celebrate their sacrifice. When we hold services at Ground Zero we commemorate and celebrate the lives of the victims and heroes of 9/11. We don’t commemorate the terrorists.

So let’s take a little deeper look at Martin Luther. He used some legitimate grievances over the selling of indulgences (which he acknowledged was an abuse of the doctrine on indulgences) as the wedge to attack the faith. But ultimately he engaged in a vicious assault on Christ Himself accusing Our Blessed Lord of fornication with the woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, and the woman taken in adultery. Here’s the pertinent quote from Luther published in Luther’s Works, American Edition, Vol. 54, p. 154, Concordia Publishing:

“Christ committed adultery first of all with the woman at the well about whom St. John tells us. Was not everybody about him saying: ‘Whatever has he been doing with her?’ Secondly with Mary Magdalene, and thirdly with the woman taken in adultery whom he dismissed so lightly. Thus, even Christ, who was so righteous, must have been guilty of fornication before he died.”

Oliver Stone, director of the blasphemous film, The Last Temptation of Christ, clearly wasn’t original in his filthy imagination.  But convincing oneself to believe such evil, makes it a lot easier to justify a life of sin. Hey, Jesus was a sinner just like us so how can we be condemned for anything we do?

Here’s what Fr. John Hardon, S.J. had to say about Luther and his work.

There is nothing to honor or celebrate about Martin Luther. He set in motion the most devastating event for the Church since the Roman persecutions. For more about Luther, his doctrine and history, listen to the interview with Dr. Peter Chojnowski from Gonzaga University here. Ironically, Luther considered the pope the devil. I doubt he’d be thrilled with Pope Francis participating in an event held in his name. He passionately hated the Mass, the priesthood, and the papacy.

At a vespers service January 25th concluding the annual week of Christian unity, Pope Francis echoed the past apologies of recent popes saying,  “I want to ask for mercy and forgiveness for the behavior of Catholics towards Christians of other churches which has not reflected gospel values. We cannot erase what happened before, but we do not want to allow the weight of past wounds to continue to contaminate our relations.” Yes, indeed, we really need to apologize for all those rigid Catholics, cleric and lay, murdered during the Protestant revolt. So what exactly is there to celebrate about Martin Luther? What exactly is the pope commemorating? And what does the pope’s language say to those descended from the martyrs murdered for practicing their Catholic faith?

In going to Lund, Pope Francis appears to be walking in the footsteps of Martin Luther. As a faithful Catholic, I don’t see anything to celebrate, but another opportunity to mourn for our poor Church. One wonders whether the pope will see anything to commemorate about the 100th anniversary of Fatima occurring also in 2017. Or is it only heretics who deserve to be so honored.

– Mary Ann Kreitzer, LES FEMMES

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. john@shalom-quest.com says:

    I refer to the Luther thing as a revolt and not a reformation. I see no reason for Catholics to celebrate such despicable event, but I am just a pew sitting / kneeling Catholic.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Ray Reeves says:

    Amen!!!!! Well Said!!!!

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