We are living in the time of history where prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes. 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517.
on the occasion of the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation
Lund, 31 October 2016
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
With thankful hearts
With this Joint Statement, we express joyful gratitude to God for this moment of common prayer in the Cathedral of Lund, as we begin the year commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. Fifty years of sustained and fruitful ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans have helped us to overcome many differences, and have deepened our mutual understanding and trust. At the same time, we have drawn closer to one another through joint service to our neighbours – often in circumstances of suffering and persecution. Through dialogue and shared witness we are no longer strangers. Rather, we have learned that what unites us is greater than what divides us.
Moving from conflict to communion
While we are profoundly thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, we also confess and lament before Christ that Lutherans and Catholics have wounded the visible unity of the Church. Theological differences were accompanied by prejudice and conflicts, and religion was instrumentalized for political ends. Our common faith in Jesus Christ and our baptism demand of us a daily conversion, by which we cast off the historical disagreements and conflicts that impede the ministry of reconciliation. While the past cannot be changed, what is remembered and how it is remembered can be transformed. We pray for the healing of our wounds and of the memories that cloud our view of one another. We emphatically reject all hatred and violence, past and present, especially that expressed in the name of religion. Today, we hear God’s command to set aside all conflict. We recognize that we are freed by grace to move towards the communion to which God continually calls us. …
We long for this wound in the Body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue. …
“The time has come when things must be called by their right names. The truth is to triumph gloriously, and those who have long been halting between two opinions must take their stand decidedly for or against the law of God. Some will take up with theories that misinterpret the word of God, and undermine the foundation of the truth that has been firmly established, point by point, and sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The old truths are to be revived, in order that the false theories that have been brought in by the enemy may be intelligently met. There can be no unity between truth and error. We can unite with those who have been led into deception only when they are converted.” The Upward Look, 88.