- Jul 15, 2020
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, is expected to issue a statement apologizing for the violence that followed the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, according to news accounts. The apology will urge believers to ask forgiveness for past atrocities and hopefully usher in a new era in Catholic and Protestant relations.
As children of the ecumenical era in the Church today, we must consider it an opportunity for us and seize the occasion of the 500 years of the Protestant Reformation which Martin Luther led, in order to exploit it for closer ecumenical ties with Lutherans and others.
In his meeting this morning with Lutheran pilgrims from Martin Luther’s hometown in Germany, Pope Francis spoke of the hypocrisy of Christians who refuse to welcome pilgrims and gave his view of the Reformation.
An exhibit on Martin Luther at New York’s Morgan Library includes one of just six surviving copies of Luther’s famous 95 theses, which was arguably the Twitter of its day, since it was standard practice in university towns to post a notice of a debate and the points that you wanted to argue.
While there were almost 20,000 Catholic priests in Germany in 1990, today their number has dropped to 14,000, and all signals suggest the decline will continue — with some saying the drop indicates the need for reform, and others suggesting it’s been artificially induced in order to change the Church.
When Pope Francis speaks off the cuff, the results are always good-natured and good-humored, but sometimes also confusing. His recent comments about Martin Luther are a good example, because the level of agreement he seemed to suggest between Catholics and Protestants just doesn’t exist.