Pope to visit Luther’s prayer space: Ecumenical breakthroughs unlikely

Catholic officials are signalling not to expect any ecumenical breakthroughs when Pope Benedict honours the 16th Century Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, during his state visit to Germany this month.

Benedict will use the visit to stress ecumenical cooperation, meet Protestant leaders and tour a monastery in Erfurt where Luther once worked and prayed, and while the visit could foster closer ties with Protestant leaders, but fundamental differences remain.

“Hopes about this visit have gone wild,” Rev. Hans Langendoerfer, secretary of the German Bishops Conference, said in Monday’s edition of the weekly magazine Focus.

“There’s talk Pope Benedict could grant the Protestants a new status or could just say ‘OK, let’s completely change those rules about communion services. It doesn’t work that way,” he said.

The visit has prompted calls from Protestants and Catholics for him to allow joint communion services and grant their churches full recognition.

Others have suggested Christians of other churches who have “Catholic faith” in the Eucharist be invited to receive communion as a foretaste of our hope in full communion. They cite the precedence when the Pope gave communion to former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, prior to his becoming a Catholic.


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