· Lutherans and Catholics Five Hundred Years after the Reformation ·
On 31 October 2016, Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan and Pastor Martin Junge, representing the community of the 145 Churches of the Lutheran World Federation, began a joint commemoration observing the 500 years since the Reformation. This event was made possible, on behalf of the Catholic Church, by the participation of Pope Francis: an extraordinary fact of ecumenism. For the first time ever, Catholics and Lutherans were able to direct their thoughts together in a moment that commemorates their separation!
This new spiritual thinking reflects the progress made in 50 years of international dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Churches of the Reformation, after the Second Vatican Council made this dialogue possible. The important achievement is how much more united than divided the Catholic Church and the Churches arising from the Reformation are, beginning with the common belief that unity is a gift given by Jesus Christ, the victor over hate. This unity though, begs to be memorialized between Christians, in the form of believed testimony in a society marked by fear.
The message given by Christians in search of reconciliation, despite their past separation, is urgent! In fact, in our societies today, the taboo against hatred among the people – even among people of the same country – has been broken. Moreover, this hatred is declared overtly, without barriers – there is no longer resistance to reciprocal hatred! Therefore, it is indispensible that Christians stand up together to resist the deep distress that dominates current affairs. It is urgent to show that the inmost aim of every religion is peace among men. All religions must refuse to allow themselves to be used as political or economic instruments.
The goal of promoting unity among Christians is not optional. Quite the opposite, it is the fundamental principle of faith in Jesus Christ who reconciled us with the Holy Father. This fundamental principle is a task entrusted to all Christians.