German Chancellor urges Protestant-Catholic accord

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Protestants and Catholics to emphasise what they have in common as Germany prepares to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.

“Especially in a very secular world, we should always stress what is common in the Christian religion,” said Merkel, who is the daughter of a Protestant pastor.

She was speaking during a rare appearance at the annual synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany, where Protestant leaders were working to make the “Luther Jubilee” more ecumenical by involving Catholics as well.

The German Chancellor said she had learned that “even the word ‘jubilee’ used in connection with the Reformation can give rise to discussions”, because Catholics attach a special meaning to “jubilee years” and would prefer the anniversary to be called a commemoration.

In preparation for the celebration, the Evangelical Church — Germany’s largest association of Protestant churches — and the Catholic Church have plans to write a book on Christianity together in 2013 and to hold a joint Bible conference in 2015.

The Evangelical Church president, Nikolaus Schneider, told the synod that there may also be a reconciliation service scheduled for 2017 “that recognises before God all the injuries both churches inflicted on each other”.

Evangelical Church vice president Thies Gundlach has expressed the hope that, despite their differences, a “wonderful friendship” will develop between Catholics and evangelicals as a result of the anniversary events.

He said the “many ecumenical achievements that render visible the truth and beauty of Christian faith 500 years after the Reformation and 50 years after Vatican II” are grounds for joint celebration. He referred to agreement on the importance of Scripture, baptism and a general acceptance of ecumenism.

Catholic Archbishop Werner Thissen of Hamburg told the synod he hoped for an agreement on how to mark the anniversary.

“Times have changed dramatically since Luther,” he said, noting that the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 had “learned a lot from Martin Luther”.

Sources:

Christian Post

Reuters

Image: MSN

News category: World.

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