Pope Francis marks Luther anniversary
Some Catholics and Lutherans, especially those whose families are intermingled, hoped that the event would produce a concrete step toward the two churches’ allowing their members to take communion in each other’s worship services.
Lund: Almost 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to a church door, setting off more than a century of religious warfare and forever changing the practice of Christianity worldwide, Pope Francis on Monday urged atonement and Christian reconciliation.
Visiting the cities of Lund and Malmo in southern Sweden for a joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the Reformation, the pope observed the 499th anniversary of Luther’s protest of the sale of indulgences by noting the beneficial impact it had on Catholicism. “With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the church’s life,” the pope said in a joint declaration at Lund Cathedral with Bishop Munib A. Younan, the head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the president of the Lutheran World Federation. The trip, which kicked off a year of events leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, was announced in January, but it was no less striking for those who listened to the pope. Sweden played a pivotal and troubling role in Protestant and Catholic history. From the 16th century, Catholics were persecuted and even put to death in Sweden.
As recently as 1951, Catholics were barred from becoming doctors, teachers and nurses, and Catholic convents were banned until the 1970s. Some Catholics and Lutherans, especially those whose families are intermingled, hoped that the event would produce a concrete step toward the two churches’ allowing their members to take communion in each other’s worship services.
In their joint declaration, Pope Francis and Bishop Younan acknowledged the divide, but said only that they were working toward a resolution through dialogue. New York Times