From Vatican Radio:
Pope Francis will travel to Sweden in October for a joint ecumenical commemoration of the start of the Reformation, together with leaders of the Lutheran World Federation and representatives of other Christian Churches. The event will take place on October 31st in the southern Swedish city of Lund where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947. While kicking off a year of events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it will also highlight the important ecumenical developments that have taken place during the past 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans. The one-day event will include a common worship service in Lund cathedral based on a Catholic-Lutheran “Common Prayer” liturgical guide, published earlier this month by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The commemoration in Lund follows on directly from the publication in 2013 of a joint document entitled ‘From Conflict to Communion’, which focuses on the themes of thanksgiving, repentance and commitment to common witness. While asking for forgiveness for the divisions of past centuries, it also seeks to showcase the gifts of the Reformation and celebrate the way Catholics and Lutherans around the world work together on issues of common concern.
From the press release:
“The LWF is approaching the Reformation anniversary in a spirit of ecumenical accountability,” says LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge. “I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence.” Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) explains further: “By concentrating together on the centrality of the question of God and on a Christocentric approach, Lutherans and Catholics will have the possibility of an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation, not simply in a pragmatic way, but in the deep sense of faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ. “It is with joy and expectation that the Church of Sweden welcomes The Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church to hold the joint commemoration of the Reformation in Lund,” says Church of Sweden Archbishop Antje Jackelén. “We shall pray together with the entire ecumenical family in Sweden that the commemoration will contribute to Christian unity in our country and throughout the world.” “The ecumenical situation in our part of the world is unique and interesting. I hope that this meeting will help us look to the future so that we can be witnesses of Jesus Christ and His gospel in our secularized world,” says Anders Arborelius OCD, Bishop of the Catholic Church in Sweden.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Geneva-based Lutheran World Federation released a joint document in June 2013 titled, “From Conflict to Communion,” which outlined ideas for joint commemorations in 2017. The document looks at the central points of Luther’s call for the reform of the church, the points addressed later by the Council of Trent and, especially, the Second Vatican Council and issues that still divide Catholics and Lutherans. “Luther had no intention of establishing a new church but was part of a broad and many-faceted desire for reform,” the document said. “In 2017, when Lutheran Christians celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, they are not thereby celebrating the division of the Western church. No one who is theologically responsible can celebrate the division of Christians from one another.” In a meeting in October 2013 with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and members of the Catholic-Lutheran international theological dialogue, Pope Francis said commemorations of the beginning of the Reformation must take place in a spirit of dialogue and humility. “Catholics and Lutherans can ask forgiveness for the harm they have caused one another and for their offenses committed in the sight of God,” he said. “I believe that it is truly important for everyone to confront in dialogue the historical reality of the Reformation, its consequences and the responses it elicited,” the pope told the group.
Photo: Vatican Radio