German Protestants are planning jubilee celebrations in 2017 to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s launching of the Reformation, a major event in the history of Christianity, of Europe and of the German nation, language and culture.
The Protestants have invited the Catholics to join in, a gesture in harmony with the good relations the two halves of German Christianity enjoy and the closeness many believers feel across the denominational divide.
But even after five centuries, being asked to commemorate a divorce that split western Christianity and led to many bloody religious wars is still hard for some Catholics to swallow.
Bishop Gerhard Feige, who is responsible for relations with Protestants, has issued a statement in which he said that the participation of the Catholic Church will depend upon what exactly is planned.
“Catholic Christians consider the division of the western Church as a tragedy and - at least until now - do not think they can celebrate this merrily.”