Pope Francis Joins Catholic and Lutheran Leaders In Signing Joint Declaration 500 Years After Reformation

Pope Francis with Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, October 31, 2016. (Reuters)
Pope Francis with Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, October 31, 2016. (Reuters)

Catholic and Lutheran leaders signed a joint declaration to mark the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation on Monday.

Pope Francis travelled to Lund in Sweden for an ecumenical prayer service and urged Christians on both sides of the divide to “move beyond” past controversies and towards unity. The event marked the start of 12 months commemorating the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses that heralded the foundation of Protestantism.

The Pope said what united Protestants and Catholics was greater than what divided them and they had a “new opportunity to accept a common path”.

The declaration was signed by Francis, as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, and Munib Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation. It read: “Through dialogue and shared witness we are no longer strangers. Rather, we have learned that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

“While we are profoundly thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, we also confess and lament before Christ that Lutherans and Catholics have wounded the visible unity of the Church. Theological differences were accompanied by prejudice and conflicts, and religion was instrumentalised for political ends.”

Francis was careful not to offer any further suggestions that inter-communion was on the agenda. The Catholic Church has insisted that while the anniversary can be marked through prayer and commitments to working together for the poor, sharing the Eucharist will only be possible when full unity has been reached.

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SOURCE: Christian Today
Harry Farley