Francis: Catholics and Lutherans should ask forgiveness for past wrongs
By CINDY WOODEN on Monday, 21 October 2013
Pope Francis has urged Catholics and Lutherans to ask forgiveness for the harm they have caused one another.
Pope Francis was speaking during a meeting with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and members of the Catholic-Lutheran international theological dialogue.
As the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation approaches, he said, “Catholics and Lutherans can ask forgiveness for the harm they have caused one another and for their offences committed in the sight of God”.
The Pope said commemorations in 2017 of the beginning of the Reformation must take place in a spirit of dialogue and humility.
“I believe that it is truly important for everyone to confront in dialogue the historical reality of the Reformation, its consequences and the responses it elicited,” the Pope told the group.
While the Reformation fractured Western Christianity, he said, for the past 50 years Catholics and Lutherans have been committed to dialogue in an effort to restore full unity.
“Together we can rejoice in the longing for unity which the Lord has awakened in our hearts, and which makes us look with hope to the future,” Pope Francis said. “Patience, dialogue and mutual understanding” will be necessary as the two communities seek to overcome what separates them.
While theological dialogue is important, he said, the key to unity lies in prayer and trying to follow more closely the teachings of Jesus.
“In the measure in which we draw closer to our Lord Jesus Christ in humility of spirit, we are certain to draw closer to one another,” he said. “We must let ourselves be taken by the hand by Jesus Christ.”
Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan of Palestine and Jordan, president of the Lutheran World Federation, told Pope Francis that Catholics and Lutherans must solemnly vow to never again use violence against one another or use the power of being a majority to silence their minority counterpart. Instead, he said, they must be committed to “listening and learning from one another”.
After the formal speeches were made, the Rev Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, presented Pope Francis with a battered teapot. He told the pope the fire-charred teapot had belonged to a Somali woman he met at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya; the camp is often described as the largest refugee camp in the world.
Although a papal aide offered to take the teapot, Pope Francis cradled it in his hands and told the Lutheran delegates that it reminded him of another form of ecumenism, “the ecumenism of martyrdom.”
Persecution, the Pope said, “does not know denominational barriers. Religious divisions do not define people fleeing conflict or migrating in order to safeguard their own lives. They are ultimately defined by what they are: children of God.”
In May, Pope Francis had spoken with the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox community of the “ecumenism of suffering,” telling Pope Tawadros II, “Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity.”
Lutherans and Catholics gather to promote unity at Vatican meeting
Tuesday, October 22 2013
It is almost 500 years since Martin Luther was at the forefront of the Reformation that later pitted Catholics and Protestants against one another for many years.
The Pope said that confronting the historical reality of the Reformation is important as it enables Catholics and Lutherans to rejoice together “in the longing for unity which the Lord has awakened in our hearts, and which makes us look with hope to the future.”
Leaders of the 70-million strong Lutheran World Federation and representatives from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity met with the Pope and Vatican officials.
They discussed joint efforts to strengthen their commitments to the poor and vulnerable around the world.
Federation members presented Pope Francis with a teapot from a Somali refugee woman at Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. There administration is run by the LWF’s diaconical arm, its Department of World Service.
“As people who have been met by Christ, we are freed and sent to meet our suffering neighbor. Let this gift therefore be an invitation to do more together for the sake of the suffering,” noted LWF general secretary, Rev. Martin Junge. Francis accepted the gift saying he will keep the gift “as a reminder of this dimension of ecumenism, the ecumenism of martyrdom,” Lutheran World Information said in a statement.
He added that persecution “does not know denominational barriers. Religious divisions do not define people fleeing conflict or migrating in order to safeguard their own lives. They are ultimately defined by what they are: children of God.”
Lutheran World Federation president, Bishop Munib A. Younan, expressed gratitude to Pope Francis during the meeting for the ecumenical milestones of the partnership with Catholics.
In a June 2013 report by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity, the partners worked together at a global level to tell the history of the Reformation as part of their commitment to deepen Christian unity.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of theological dialogue between the two partners.
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is also quickly approaching in 2017.
The Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity has published a text, “From Conflict to Communion: The Lutheran-Catholic Interpretation of the Reformation in 2017,” Ecumenical News reported on June 18.
The document, according to Bishop Younan, “provides an opportunity to reflect on our particular history – now worded jointly by Lutherans and Roman Catholics – so we can correct our behavior and engage one another more constructively for the sake of God’s mission.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch, a Catholic representative had added, “Now we have been able to see that Martin Luther wanted a renewal of the Church and not a new Church.”
During the meeting Monday, Pope Francis stated, “Catholics and Lutherans can ask forgiveness for the harm they have done to each other and for their guilt before God, and together rejoice for the nostalgia for unity that the Lord has reawakened in our hearts, and which makes us look ahead with hope.”
The Pope continued, “Certainly, there are and there will be difficulties, which will require further patience, dialogue, and mutual comprehension, but let us not be afraid!
“Unity is not primarily the result of our efforts, but of the action of the Holy Spirit, to which we must open our hearts with trust in order that it might lead us along the paths to reconciliation and communion.”
Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News