German Lutheran Church prepares to celebrate 500th Anniversary

I just heard on the radio that the Lutheran church in Germany is preparing the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation for 2017. It is currently being discussed at their synod near my place. Former bishop of the EKD (Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands) Margot Käßmann is said to have asked how Catholics could be invited to take part as well.

To be honest (though society would label me antiquated and a bigot), I find this idea outrageous and arrogant. Though I am happy about ecumenical relations, I could never agree to a proposal that invites Catholics to celebrate the anniversary of a schism and basically heresy. I admit that as a “mental convert” (still not formally) I am somewhat biased. But as I believe that the Catholic Church is founded by Christ Himself, I find it highly offensive to celebrate schism and heresy as something positive and arrogant to think one was on the same level as Christ’s Church.

I hope I do not sound like some fanatic, but I just wanted to share my view and invite comments. :slight_smile: If this is the wrong forum, please move the thread.

You don’t sound crazy to me. I completely agree. I find it rather strange that they would even want Catholics to participate…from their side, it’s like, “hey, you guys were soooo wrong and we had to break off from you, wanna come play?” and from the Catholic side, why in the heck would we want to celebrate heresy?! hmm… auf jeden Fall, schlechte Idee.

I wouldn’t say the German EKD is “hardcore Lutheran”. It’s somewhat like “Oh, just do what you want but be nice to everybody. Don’t say others are wrong.” Simply put. They seek contact with the Catholic Church, even communion in a sense. But I feel they think they are in a position to demand something of the Catholic Church, or to set some conditions, as if they were equal to the Roman Church on matters of authority or truth. (I do not mean the people personally!)

I hope the German Bishops (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz) take a stand against it. Not saying: “Hey, stop it, heretics!” (Although that would be kind of interesting) but in a clear, yet not derogatory way.

:thumbsup: Nope I see no fanatics here, sound reasoning.
Hope to see you soon fully fledged Catholic :aok:

At least in this area, having a Catholic priest come to preach at Lutheran Reformation Day services is a popular practice. Many of Marin Luther’s reforms eventually found their way into the Catholic Church.

So do I :slight_smile:

I haven’t heard of that here. Actually “Reformation Day” is All Hallows’ Eve, and I can’t imagine why any Catholic priest would have time to preach somewhere else.

Actually most Lutheran churches transfer Reformation Day to the last Sunday in October. Usually the priests are order (particularly Franciscan and Jesuit), not diocesean priests.

Well, it’s still not the case here. Reformation Day is a fixed date in Germany. :smiley:

When you’re friends with a Lutheran that has the same kind of humor it’s tons of fun. A friend of mine is totally Lutheran and there’s always some friendly ribbing haha. I’m sure that this topic will be brought up also.

Where I live Protestants constantly seem to seek contact with our Catholic church. They’re the ones seeking and asking for ecumenical services, fests, etc.
I’m taking Liturgy classes and we were expicitly told to reach out to their requests as we’re supposed to strive for the union of the church, especially since Vatican II.
I don’t have anything against a re-union as long as they accept all of our sacraments :shrug:

I don’t think that there’s any ill-will or anything bad behind their invite. They always reach out to us. If we don’t go and accept their invite we might be the ones looking bad in my opinion. My sister and I took a trip and visited some churches, one of them happened to be Lutheran. I didn’t want to go in, but the Lady at the shack got very emotional and wanted me to come inside saying that we were all Christians, reminded me of the love for G0d and vice versa and that I as a Catholic would make her so happy if I took an approach, hence I finally went in there for the sake of making her happy.

I suppose it’s just dreaming, but I would like to imagine a grand re-unification service in 2017 :slight_smile:

We didn’t really do anything special at our LCMS church for Reformation Sunday - a bunch of us did go to one of our neighboring Catholic churches and volunteered at their More than a Meal soup kitchen event (it’s the 4th Sunday of each month, so it will always be on our Reformation Sunday).

I am absolutely pro-union! But not to any conditions set by those who have split off. They aren’t in a position to demand. The Catholic Church should not back down from anything it teaches or does for the sake of having a group re-join. That’s the way I feel about it. :slight_smile:

I don’t think either they are trying to get Catholics to convert or bash them, either. But it just doesn’t make sense. Of course, both sides are Christians. :slight_smile:

I have been praying hard for reconciliation before that 500th anniversary.

Hmm. My wife is a Luheran and I do participate in some of the activities at her church. My parish has nothing.

Almost 70 years ago we were at war with Germany and Japan but I see no reason to not go there now.

Today I think it a good thing to look at the common ground rather than focus on bitterness from the distant past. Today Catholic and nonCatholic churches work together to run food pantries and homeless shelters. I have picketed abortion clinics with Protestants. As long as we don’t compromise our teachings (and I don’t ask them too either) we can accomplish much when we work together.

Still many are returning to the Catholic church.

I don’t see any reason for upset. We have civil relations with the Orthodox when that schism occurred hundreds of years earlier to Luther so we should all be at least civil to each other.

Ignoring other christians will not solve much or garner goodwill. Showing respect by being present and participating shouldn’t be automatically interpreted as approving or condoning of everything Lutheran otherwise a Pope kissing the Quran could be misinterpreted into a myriad of things.

Just my thoughts.

Reformation Day is a fixed date, but our church observes it on the closes Sunday prior so as to not to take the focus away from All Saints Sunday. The LC-MS will never allow a non-LC-MS pastor to occupy a pulpit in their churches. That would be syncretism and giving credence to what is being preached.

If (parts of) the Anglican Church can come back in a rather sudden movement, I don’t see why the Lutheran Church couldn’t. Maybe by 2054 (the 1000-year anniversary of the Great Schism) the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches might even joined…

I told a Lutheran friend of mine about this and here is his reply, translated from German:

Actually it is the case that the Catholic Church condemned Luther, in other words she seperated from him and not the other way around. Only from this did the questioning of Papal Infallibility arise. (see Esurge Domine)

Indulgences themselves are illegitimate. They can only be granted for breaking commandments that the Pope has given himself. Even the Pope cannot grant absolution to either dead or living for money, or lessen their suffering, in matters of breaking biblical commandments.

Although Luther may still be using the word Purgatory in his 95 theses, it can certainly be seen as a metaphor. Luther’s condemnation of Purgatory in 1537 (I’m not sure about the year) lends further credibility to this.

The Catholic Church has changed more often over the centuries than you may wish she had. The Tridentine Mass, which I also love, comes from the 1600s and was conscientiously created as an anti-Lutheran Mass. The Mass of Vatican II has a lot more in common with a Protestant service.

My reply to this basically made these points:

  1. Suggesting that the Catholic Church “split” from Luther is an absurd claim and not tenable.
  2. There is a misunderstanding about Indulgences and the abuse in Luther’s time.
  3. Yes, the Church has changed, but never doctrinally.
  4. I stand convinced that heresy and schism are not to be celebrated.
  5. Sola Scriptura, Luther’s Canon of Scripture and Ecclesiology (spiritual union) are not tenable either.

Please feel free to comment on any part of his mail. :slight_smile:

  1. A split implies 2 parties. Neither side lacks blame.
  2. There may also have been a “misunderstanding” in the practice in Luther’s time.
  3. Depends on how one defines “development” of doctrine. I see a big difference between Nicea canon 6 and the current understanding of papal primacy.
  4. Perhaps then a commemoration of what we together hold.
  5. Luther, nor Lutherans have a specific (closed) canon, as the confessions to not name one. The Lutheran view is to look at the books, considering the history of each - affirmed, disputed, rejected. The D-C’s, and to a lesser extent, the antilegomena of the NT, have a history of dispute, far earlier than Luther. We take that disputed nature into account regarding doctrine. So, from a Lutheran perespective, one can certainly say that the D-C’s are scripture.


As Catholics, we could probably “celebrate” (not exactly the right word, mourn?) Reformation Day in ways similar to the way Eastern Rites remember things: having a large fast before the Feast. Essentially, in preparation for All Saints, we have a day to pray for Christian unity, to pray for the undoing of the Reformation. It could even turn into a miniature “Triduum” about the Church (Oct. 31, we pray for the unity of the Church on earth; Nov. 1, we remember the saints who constantly intercede on our behalf; Nov. 2, we pray for the Church in Purgatory.) And apparently it also has precedence with the East, in that they celebrate the anniversaries of certain Councils (like the “Triumph of Orthodoxy” Day commemorating the end of Nicea II); but it would be more penitential.

my random thoughts as a former Protestant.
-A.M.T. Fisher

A joint commemoration of the anniversary, nuanced and carefully planned, is probably a good idea. In this era of secularism, it is well to bring to mind what unites us. Ultimately, that is more important than what divides us.

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