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Pope Francis: Reformation’s 500th anniversary is ‘privileged occasion’ for living the faith

January 19, 2017

Pope Francis received an ecumenical delegation from Finland on January 19 and said that 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, is “for Catholics and Lutherans a privileged occasion to live the faith more authentically, in order to rediscover the Gospel together, and to seek and witness to Christ with renewed vigor.”

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The Scandinavian nation of 5.5 million is 74% Lutheran.

“The intention of Martin Luther 500 years ago was to renew the Church, not divide her,” the Pope said, as he stressed the importance of theological dialogue. He also expressed hope that by the Holy Spirit’s action, “we will be able to find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the Church, and will be able to draw ever closer to full and visible unity.”


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  • Posted by: [email protected] - Jan. 20, 2017 9:38 PM ET USA

    That may have been his start but it certainly was not his finish and look what has been created with multi-thousands of churches and religions. With all kinds of doctrines. For the true Lutherans and Catholic Church we are getting closer. But there are those who call themselves Lutheran but are far from what he believed. Catholic Church has same problem but we don't call them out.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Jan. 20, 2017 1:58 PM ET USA

    For me it is defensible to assert that virtually every modern ill traces to the Protestant desertion of the true Church. It hints at insanity to celebrate what Luther initiated. It was awful and still is. From time to time, something tries to heal us, like the March for Life and walking next to a Baptist who truly loves Jesus Christ.

  • Posted by: Oliver Plunkett - Jan. 19, 2017 9:19 PM ET USA

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Jan. 19, 2017 6:52 PM ET USA

    This pope apparently has no lack of energy in supporting the authentic REpudiation of much things Catholic by Luther. If he thinks the Catholic Church is in such bad shape as to warrant a repeat (which is a logical dot to connect to here), then perhaps we all are in the wrong church.

  • Posted by: rpp - Jan. 19, 2017 5:49 PM ET USA

    The "Reformation" is more properly referred to as "The Protestant Revolt". The idea that Pope Francis would want Holy Mother Church to commemorate this disastrous period in history, which led to the death of millions and the loss of countless immortal souls, as something to be celebrated floors me.

  • Posted by: ALC - Jan. 19, 2017 5:23 PM ET USA

    If Luther's intent was to renew the Church and not divide her, he certainly had a funny way of going about it. Isn't it time this Pope concentrate on the Roman Catholic Church and the crisis of Faith, rather than every group that is opposed to her doctrines?

  • Posted by: feedback - Jan. 19, 2017 11:52 AM ET USA

    The Council of Trent would be much more worthy of commemoration. Besides that, the division of Christian Europe in the times of Lutheran Reformation, had more to do with politics than theology.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jan. 19, 2017 7:30 AM ET USA

    Luther believed in an invisible Church - sola scriptura. He used the most vitriolic language to condemn the hierarchy and sacraments of the Church as vain man-made structures that are impediments to salvation. He put to an end in his theology a Catholic understanding of sanctifying grace. Men cannot be sanctified, only covered. As we move forward in our understandings of marriage, divorce and sacramental communion is it possible a Lutheran strain of mercy and grace is inexorably taking hold?