- Jul 9, 2020
During a congress in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Pope Francis called members of both faiths to forget “prejudice toward the faith that others profess” and to “offer one another forgiveness for the sins committed by those who have gone before us.”
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.
Progressives, both Protestant and Catholic, see Pope Francis’s encounter with Lutherans in Sweden as a new step towards full reunion, while conservatives observed the smiles, the ceremonies and the signatures with cynicism and reserve. Both sides are unrealistic.
Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden, the country’s only Catholic bishop, say most native Swedes who join the Church come from university circles and are attracted by its embrace of reason, its theological depth, and its social doctrine.
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.