Catholics should learn from Luther, Pope says in new interview [CWN]

Pope Francis said that Catholics can learn a great deal from Lutherans, in an interview published as he prepared for a trip to Sweden to join in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.


Personally, I wish the Pope wouldn’t celebrate the Reformation. It was a terrible blow to Catholicism.

I have been looking forward to this commemoration since planning for it began years ago and I am grateful to see it.

We rejoice that Catholic bishops all over the world will be holding historic joint commemorations over the next year and beyond. I am especially pleased at the zeal of the American bishops on this front.

This is one of the most epic events of our lifetime, with profound ramifications, and is another great step forward in the work that was begun 50 years ago.

I look forward in my turn, as a priest, in co-presiding at one of the joint services of common prayer with a Lutheran cleric at my side for this 500th anniversary.

I think it is a beautiful and very poignant gesture from the Holy Father.

I have long harboured a soft spot for Lutheranism, I mean their tradition is the origin of the Advent Wreath :slight_smile:

Martin Luther himself was a complicated soul. Flawed in many respects but he did also ascertain genuine corruptions in church practice - such as the infamous sale of indulgences - and his movement for reform, while lamentably ending in schism, spurred the Catholic Church to get its act together, so to speak, through the Counter-Reformation. He also exhibited a quite profound veneration for Our Blessed Mother.

So yes, I think we can learn much from our Lutheran brothers and sisters. I have little to no time for John Calvin but I do for Luther.


Catholics should learn from Luther, Pope says in new interview

Interesting. I didn’t even know Alexander Pope was still alive.

I’d rather learn from saint thomas more, who was martyred for refusing to give in to henry viii.

I don’t follow the example of martin luther. I follow JESUS CHRIST!!!

It’s nice to move forward with Lutheran/Catholic relations but I have reservations about real unity given the liberal stance of the LWF on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and women ordination.

The signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of justification was Historic and a great step forward and this should be as well.


Learn what, exactly?

Having been a former Protestant and still having an entirely Protestant family, I always look hopefully at the Church’s attempts towards ecumenism. Their salvation as formerly being quite doubtful, is now looked upon as quite hopeful. :slight_smile:

As for Lutherans in particular, I have compassion for Martin Luther. He was plagued with what (appears to be) severe mental health distress (likely what is known today as OCD) as well as scrupulously. His actions were deeply rooted in constant fear of damnation (which is typical of the scrupulous soul,) not in pure maliciousness towards the Church and her authority. The Counter-Reformation was the “immense good” that ended up coming forth from this terribly unfortunate event. So it definitely wasn’t all for naught.

Luther at the time of the Reformation was probably a far more moral man than most of the Catholic popes of that era. The Catholic Church was NOT in a good state towards the late 1400’s to early 1500’s. It’s highly unfortunate that a schism happened, but it’s understandable that people weren’t liking the state of the Catholic Church at that point.

It’s a tragedy that the Reformation did not reform the Church; rather it splintered it into dozens of denominations which continue to split. But the counter-reformation reformed the Church. People like Francis of Assisi reformed the Church.

I am still somewhat puzzled at Pope Francis’ antipathy toward what he refers to as ‘proselytizing.’ The article says: “He denounced the idea that Catholics should seek to convince Lutherans about the truths of the Catholic faith.” I wonder what he would make of Marcus Grodi’s “The Journey Home” program.

By the way, you can read all of the Holy Father’s remarks here:

The article, IMO, does a disservice to the Pope’s comments by characterizing them as it has.

To give one example, look at the following quote from the article:

Speaking more generally about ecumenical relations, the Pontiff said, “Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift toward common prayer and the works of mercy” rather than concentrating on theological discussions.

Is that what Pope Francis said? Hm. How do you explain the following, then?

Continuing to dialogue and to study the issues clearly belongs to the theologians. On this there is no doubt. Theological dialogue must continue, because it is a path to follow. I think about the results that were achieved on this path with the great ecumenical document on justification. It was a great step forward.

To give another example:

Speaking about what Catholics should learn from Martin Luther, the Pope said: “Two words come to my mind: reform and Scripture.”

Um, no. The Pope was not speaking about what Catholics should learn from Martin Luther. The quotation from the Pope was in response to the following question:

In ecumenical dialogue, the different communities should be mutually enriched with the best of their traditions. What could the Catholic Church learn from the Lutheran tradition?

Forgive me if I’m being pedantic, but this is an error in the article.

I agree. And I’m a former Protestant.

That is some genuinely depressing reporting if all true. I will check out the full transcript.

Sorry Holy Father, but I believe you miss all the very important the reasons that we are now separated. I have compared the two and the Catholic faith tradition remains the standard, so other than the fact that Lutheran people can be caring and loving people, there is nothing for me in Lutheranism.

Rome seems to be going a bit too far with its celebration of the Protestant revolution (possible intercommunion followed by a Swift rebuke from Cardinal Sarah… We seem to always be on the verge of a fracture, God help us)

Someone else pointed out that this article is very misleading. But assuming his quote above is true, which seems connected to this one: ““Proselytism is a sinful attitude,” he insisted.” It may be that an aggressive proselytism is meant, meaning one where the non-Catholic is confronted with his “errors” in an adversarial way.

But Catholic apologetics still have a VERY important place in the Church, as good Christians will ALWAYS seek to know the Truth, and we must be ready to explain our reasons for belief. :slight_smile:

:thumbsup: Absolutely! I would even suggest that perhaps it was a lack of good apologetics that led to the Reformation to begin with, especially when one reads Luther’s 95 thesis which can be answered by even amateur apologists here on CAF. Had that happened at that time (and had Luther been receptive) the whole thing may have never happened.

As for proselytism , one needs to know that there is a vast difference between evangelism and proselytism since the latter infers coercion and even force whereas evangelism is the result of good teaching and dialog.

That said…in America today we desperately need more and better evangelism lest our nation and society face judgement (Look at Jeremiah chapter 9) and Catholics should feel free to use counter evangelism when we encounter those n-Cs who wish to convert us away from our most holy faith.

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