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Catholics and Lutherans to Jointly Observe Reformation Anniversary

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Catholics and Lutherans to Jointly Observe Reformation Anniversary

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In an unprecedented move, Catholic and Protestant officials declared the approaching 500th anniversary of the Reformation (to take place in 2017) as a time for Catholics and Lutherans to “cooperate” and “find ways toward the future together,” according to a joint document released by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

Rather than continuing to blame each other for events that resulted in the split between Catholics and Protestants, “The awareness is dawning on Lutherans and Catholics that the struggle of the 16th century is over,” Reuters quoted the report as saying. “The reasons for mutually condemning each other’s faith have fallen by the wayside.”

The document titled “From Conflict to Communion” identified the Reformation, which resulted in Protestant reformers splitting from the Catholic Church, as a movement that has been “guilty before Christ of damaging the unity of the church.”

In addition, “The report said Christians in developing countries, now an important region for both churches, could not identify with 500-year-old European rows. Secularization in Western societies in recent decades meant many old feuds were now forgotten there” (ibid.).

“The reason for Church divisions,” Matthias Turk, who oversees Lutheran-Catholic relations with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Vatican Radio, “are very often misunderstandings and different interpretations of the same contents of faith and theological convictions. So…we were able to rediscover the common basis we have in these questions of faith and were able to express that these are no longer Church dividing issues…”

Worldwide Christian unity, which was a key goal of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, will no doubt continue as an objective under current Pope Francis, who recently acknowledged the council as “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit” while reproving Catholics for not fully implementing its objectives.

“Even in our personal lives the Spirit prompts us to take a more evangelical path,” he stated. He characterized those not fully committed to the objectives of the Council as “being stubborn,” seeking “to tame the Holy Spirit,” and being “slow of heart.”

According to Reuters, “The LWF said it wants to talk with Anglican, Mennonite, Reformed, Orthodox and Pentecostal churches about how they might also participate in the 2017 commemoration.”

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