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Pope delighted by Vatican conference studying history of Reformation

March 31, 2017

Greeting participants in a Vatican conference on the Reformation, Pope Francis said that the event showed a new ecumenical sensibility that was “a working of the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope spoke on March 31 to scholars who had gathered for the conference, organized by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, on the history of the Reformation. The Pontiff said that he had been delighted to hear of plans for the meeting, remarking that “not long ago a meeting like this would have been unthinkable.”

Historical research, the Pope continued, could help in “overcoming the atmosphere of mutual distrust and rivalry that for all too long marked relations between Catholics and Protestants.” He encouraged the scholars in their work, saying:

An attentive and rigorous study, free of prejudice and polemics, enables the churches, now in dialogue, to discern and receive all that was positive and legitimate in the Reformation, while distancing themselves from errors, extremes and failures, and acknowledging the sins that led to the division.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Mar. 31, 2017 11:34 PM ET USA

    As jalsardl5053 noted, the only thing good about the Reformation was the Counter Reformation--a needed reflection and consolidation of doctrine sparked by the Reformation, but not guided by it. I don't think it possible for the Church to have developed in any other age such concise descriptions of doctrine and discipline, based in philosophy, revelation, and reason. For example, Trent's explanation of the _beginning_ of justification in those who have attained the age of reason is a masterpiece.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Mar. 31, 2017 2:27 PM ET USA

    Next step: a Vatican conference on the Counter Reformation. Wouldn't hold breath though.

  • Posted by: feedback - Mar. 31, 2017 1:26 PM ET USA

    One of many problems with this kind of a conference is that the different Protestant denominations do not have any common unifying structure, or governing entity, to represent them in the way that Catholics have. In other words, what delights Pope Francis could be completely meaningless to most Protestants around the world.