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Papal preacher sees an end to Catholic-Protestant conflicts

March 18, 2016

Father Raneiro Cantalamessa, the preacher to the pontifical household, focused on ecumenical affairs in the 5th of his Lenten Sermons, delivered on Friday, March 18, in the presence of Pope Francis and leaders of the Roman Curia.

Father Cantalamessa said that alongside doctrinal discussions, "an ecumenism of personal encounters and reconciliation of hearts" has drawn Christian communities closer together in recent decades. As the world approaches the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the papal preacher said that Christian leaders should focus on the beliefs that they share, rather than arguing over doctrinal formulations. He said that conflicts between Catholics and Protestants have often been based on misunderstandings of St. Paul's message regarding justification. He explained:

What the Apostle wanted to affirm above all in Romans 3 is not that we are justified by faith but that we are justified by faith in Christ; it is not so much that we are justified by grace as it is that we are justified by the grace of Christ.

By placing their confidence on Christ, the preacher said, Catholics and Protestants can overcome their differences. "The religious wars between Catholics and Protestants are over," he argued, "and we have much better things to do than fight with one another!"


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Mar. 20, 2016 11:20 PM ET USA

    Help me to understand. Is Father Cantalamessa saying that Catholics have to change their theology to get along with Protestants, or that Protestants have to change their theology to get along with Catholics? Or is he saying that theology no longer matters, that only hugs and kisses can heal the divide? I've used Father Cantalamessa's approach in the past, but it never changed anyone's allegiance. I can't imagine there is a Protestant alive who does not know that faith and grace are in/of Christ.