I’m reading through this Catholic-Lutheran document. Interesting statements:
- Lutherans and Catholics have many reasons to retell their history in
new ways. They have been brought closer together through family re -
lations, through their service to the larger world mission, and through
their common resistance to tyrannies in many places. These deepened
contacts have changed mutual perceptions, bringing new urgency for
e cumenical dialogue and further research. The ecumenical movement
has altered the orientation of the churches’ perceptions of the Reformation:
ecumenical theologians have decided not to pursue their confessional
self-assertions at the expense of their dialogue partners but
rather to search for that which is common within the differences, even
within the oppositions, and thus work toward overcoming churchdividing
Twentieth-century Catholic research on Luther
21. Twentieth-century Catholic research on Luther built upon a Catholic
interest in Reformation history that awakened in the second half of the
nineteenth century. These theologians followed the efforts of the
Catholic population in the Protestant-dominated German empire to free
themselves from a one-sided, anti-Roman, Protestant historiography.
The breakthrough for Catholic scholarship came with the thesis that
Luther overcame within himself a Catholicism that was not fully
Catholic. According to this view, the life and teaching of the church in
the late Middle Ages served mainly as a negative foil for the Reforma-
tion; the crisis in Catholicism made Luther’s religious protest quite
convincing to some.
30 Pope Benedict also recognized the ways in which the person and theo -
logy of Martin Luther pose a spiritual and theological challenge to
Catholic theology today when, in 2011, he visited the Augustinian Friary
in Erfurt where Luther had lived as a friar for about six years. Pope
Benedict commented, »What constantly exercised [Luther] was the question
of God, the deep passion and driving force of his whole life’s journey.
›How do I find a gracious God?‹ – this question struck him in the
heart and lay at the foundation of all his theological searching and in -
ner struggle. For him, theology was no mere academic pursuit, but the
struggle for oneself, which in turn was a struggle for and with God. ›How
do I find a gracious God?‹ The fact that this question was the driving
force of his whole life never ceases to make an impression on me. For
who is actually concerned about this today – even among Christians?
What does the question of God mean in our lives? In our preaching?
Most people today, even Christians, set out from the presupposition
that God is not fundamentally interested in our sins and virtues.«8
Ministers for the parishes
66. Now that the Lutheran parishes had the Scriptures in the vernacular,
the catechism, hymns, a church order, and orders of service, a major
problem remained, namely how to provide ministers for the parishes.
During the first years of the Reformation, many priests and monks
became Lutheran ministers, so that enough pastors were available.
But this method of recruiting ministers eventually proved to be insufficient.