Roman Catholics and Lutherans commemorate together 500 years of the Reformation

Kurt Cardinal Koch, President Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation; Pope Francis; Reverend Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheral World Federation

Kurt Cardinal Koch, President Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation; Pope Francis; Reverend Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheral World Federation

In 1517, in Wittenberg (Germany), Martin Luther manifested his opposition to the prevailing practice of selling indulgences in the Western Church. On 31 October 2016, Lutheran and Catholics co-hosted for the first time in history a joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the Cathedral of Lund (Sweden).

This became possible after the important decisions taken at the Second Vatican Council in its decree “Unitatis redintegratio” on ecumenism, which inaugurated a bilateral theological between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, which has been conducted over the last 50 years.

A joint report was produced by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity called “From Conflict to Communion”⇒. It tells the history of the Reformation from a joint perspective, analyses the theological topics under dispute, and identifies those differences that today can be regarded as overcome because of dialogue and a common understanding.

The joint commemoration was presided by Pope Francis and the President of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Younan. It was structured around thanksgiving, repentance and a commitment to joint witness and service. The culminating point was the signature of a Joint Statement by Pope Francis and Bishop Younan.

It is important to emphasise that the report has not restored intercommunion between the two confessions. Therefore, there was no common celebration of the Eucharist at this commemoration.

A public event was also organised in the evening of the same day at the Arena of Malmö which emphasised the commitment of the two confessions to common witness and service. It culminated by the signature of an agreement of cooperation between the Lutheran World Federation World Service and Caritas Internationalis.

Representative of other Christian Confessions also attended this Ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation. The Ecumenical Patriarchate was represented by HE Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and Scandinavia, and by HE Archbishop Job of Telmessos, Permanent Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the WCC.