Monday, October 31, 2016


Pope urges Catholics and Lutherans to recognize past errors

Pope Francis at the ecumenical prayer service in Lund Cathedral - ANSA
Pope Francis at the ecumenical prayer service in Lund Cathedral - ANSA
31/10/2016 12:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday urged Catholics and Lutherans to recognize past “errors” and seize "the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreement that have often prevented us from understanding one another." He said the division between Catholics and Lutherans was “perpetuated historically by the powerful of this world” rather than by the faithful people of God. The Pope was speaking during his homily at an ecumenical prayer service in the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund shortly after his arrival in Sweden for a 26-hour pastoral visit.

Please find below an English transcript of the Pope’s prepared homily during the prayer service:
“Abide in me as I abide in you” (Jn 15:4).  These words, spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper, allow us to peer into the heart of Christ just before his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  We can feel his heart beating with love for us and his desire for the unity of all who believe in him.  He tells us that he is the true vine and that we are the branches, that just as he is one with the Father, so we must be one with him if we wish to bear fruit.
Here in Lund, at this prayer service, we wish to manifest our shared desire to remain one with Christ, so that we may have life.  We ask him, “Lord, help us by your grace to be more closely united to you and thus, together, to bear a more effective witness of faith, hope and love”.  This is also a moment to thank God for the efforts of our many brothers and sisters from different ecclesial communities who refused to be resigned to division, but instead kept alive the hope of reconciliation among all who believe in the one Lord.
As Catholics and Lutherans, we have undertaken a common journey of reconciliation.  Now, in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation of 1517, we have a new opportunity to accept a common path, one that has taken shape over the past fifty years in the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.  Nor can we be resigned to the division and distance that our separation has created between us.  We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.
Jesus tells us that the Father is the “vinedresser” (cf. v. 1) who tends and prunes the vine in order to make it bear more fruit (cf. v. 2).  The Father is constantly concerned for our relationship with Jesus, to see if we are truly one with him (cf. v. 4).  He watches over us, and his gaze of love inspires us to purify our past and to work in the present to bring about the future of unity that he so greatly desires.
We too must look with love and honesty at our past, recognizing error and seeking forgiveness, for God alone is our judge.  We ought to recognize with the same honesty and love that our division distanced us from the primordial intuition of God’s people, who naturally yearn to be one, and that it was perpetuated historically by the powerful of this world rather than the faithful people, which always and everywhere needs to be guided surely and lovingly by its Good Shepherd.  Certainly, there was a sincere will on the part of both sides to profess and uphold the true faith, but at the same time we realize that we closed in on ourselves out of fear or bias with regard to the faith which others profess with a different accent and language.  As Pope John Paul II said, “We must not allow ourselves to be guided by the intention of setting ourselves up as judges of history but solely by the motive of understanding better what happened and of becoming messengers of truth” (Letter to Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, President of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, 31 October 1983).  God is the vinedresser, who with immense love tends and protects the vine; let us be moved by his watchful gaze.  The one thing he desires is for us to abide like living branches in his Son Jesus.  With this new look at the past, we do not claim to realize an impracticable correction of what took place, but “to tell that history differently” (LUTHERAN-ROMAN CATHOLIC COMMISSION ON UNITY, From Conflict to Communion, 17 June 2013, 16).
Jesus reminds us: “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (v. 5).  He is the one who sustains us and spurs us on to find ways to make our unity ever more visible.  Certainly, our separation has been an immense source of suffering and misunderstanding, yet it has also led us to recognize honestly that without him we can do nothing; in this way it has enabled us to understand better some aspects of our faith.  With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the Church’s life.  Through shared hearing of the word of God in the Scriptures, important steps forward have been taken in the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, whose fiftieth anniversary we are presently celebrating.  Let us ask the Lord that his word may keep us united, for it is a source of nourishment and life; without its inspiration we can do nothing.
The spiritual experience of Martin Luther challenges us to remember that apart from God we can do nothing.  “How can I get a propitious God?”  This is the question that haunted Luther.  In effect, the question of a just relationship with God is the decisive question for our lives.  As we know, Luther encountered that propitious God in the Good News of Jesus, incarnate, dead and risen.  With the concept “by grace alone”, he reminds us that God always takes the initiative, prior to any human response, even as he seeks to awaken that response.  The doctrine of justification thus expresses the essence of human existence before God.
Jesus intercedes for us as our mediator before the Father; he asks him that his disciples may be one, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).  This is what comforts us and inspires us to be one with Jesus, and thus to pray: “Grant us the gift of unity, so that the world may believe in the power of your mercy”.  This is the testimony the world expects from us.  We Christians will be credible witnesses of mercy to the extent that forgiveness, renewal and reconciliation are daily experienced in our midst.  Together we can proclaim and manifest God’s mercy, concretely and joyfully, by upholding and promoting the dignity of every person.  Without this service to the world and in the world, Christian faith is incomplete.
As Lutherans and Catholics, we pray together in this Cathedral, conscious that without God we can do nothing.  We ask his help, so that we can be living members, abiding in him, ever in need of his grace, so that together we may bring his word to the world, which so greatly needs his tender love and mercy.


Servimus Unum Deum said...

Thank you Father for giving us some clarity in this event which is making Radicals Misrepresenting Traditonalists' blood boil with seething rage.

Anonymous said...

Hello to the Pope, The Holy Roman Catholic Church in not in error, my God I cannot believe he is saying this, oh wait yes I do.

Gene said...

There is no way on God's green earth that Catholic and Lutheran theology can be reconciled...without significantly compromising both. I dare say there is more future in dialogue with Calvinists.

Mark Thomas said...

Tired, old ecumenical event...peaches and cream on the surface. But the reality is that beneath the fa├žade and talk about the "pains" that they feel supposedly in regard to disunity, there is not one bit of desire among liberal "mainstream" Protestants who participate in ecumenical events to join the True Church.

All the talk about "cooperation" between the True Church and Lutheran "communities" is hollow.

How can the Catholic Church spread the Truth in union with a group of pro-birth control/abortion, homosexual "marriage," priestess, refuse-to-join-the-True-Church Lutheran laymen dressed as clerics?

Here is the bottom line in regard to the peaches and cream ecumenical event. The Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, participated in today's ecumenical event in Sweden.

But in 2013 A.D., he offered the following, which demonstrates the reality of the situation at hand:

Lutheran leader unhappy with proposal for Lutheran ordinariate

January 22, 2013

The General Secretary of the World Lutheran Federation has expressed serious misgivings about the prospect that the Vatican could establish an ordinariate for Lutherans entering the Catholic Church.

Rev. Martin Junge said that the creation of a Lutheran ordinariate—similar to the Anglican ordinariates that are already in place—would have “serious ecumenical repercussions” insofar as it would signal the Vatican’s encouragement for Lutherans to leave their Protestant communities. Such a move, Rev. Junge said, “would send the wrong signal to Lutheran churches."

As Rev. Martin Junge made clear, he and his liberal Lutherans in question do not have the slightest desire "to leave their Protestant communities."


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

His Holiness Pope Francis traveled to Sweden for that? More of the same...a tired, old, hollow, ecumenical event that, contrary to the desired result, actually highlighted the stark separation between the True Church and the liberal Lutherans who participated in today's peaches and cream display of so-called "unity".


His Holiness Pope Francis is a man of peace. That is beautiful. But he follows the same futile ecumenical policy that Rome has pursued for decades.

Rome would do well to unleash the TLM. Rome would do well to proclaim with vigor that the Catholic Church is the True Church. Rome would do well to restore Traditional Catholicism throughout the West.

That would attract to the True Church Protestants who are serious about the Truth.

Instead, Rome gives us more of the futile Ecumenical Movement.

The Lutheran laymen (and at least one priestess lay woman) who dressed as clerics today preside over a dying "church." The Protestant Revolt has devastated Europe and the West.

"Mainstream" Lutheran communities can offer only the Culture of Death...birth control, abortion, homosexuality. Why has Rome, for decades, throw in with dying "mainstream" Protestantism?

Again, Pope Francis traveled to Sweden for that? What was accomplished today in Lund? (Other than to reinforce the absurdity of the True Church attempting to "cooperate" with "mainstream" Lutheranism.)


Mark Thomas

TJM said...

Pope Benedict IS the Pope of Christian Unity! Anglicanorum Coetibus!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1999) (JDDJ) is hardly "peaches and cream" and does represent a significant recognition of convergence of thought and teaching on the topic.

It is the result of the "ecumenical policy" that our Church has followed for the last 60 years, and is based on the desire of Christ for all Christians to be one.

The JDDJ text can be read here:

Tony V said...

I really don't understand the indignation and alarm I'm hearing from so many traditionalists. It's more of a reflex to anything Francis does.

As Fr K says, the JDDJ text is an important milestone. I've never been able to slog my way through it, because frankly it gets kinds of boring, but just because it's boring doesn't mean it's spot on.

The issue isn't how much we differ on justification, or transubstantiation versus consubstantiation, or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It's whether either or both communities will stand up to the spiritual wasteland that Western society has become. Some commenters here have pointed out that many liberal "Lutheran" ministers have adopted the culture of death hook, line and sinker (and would, by the way, make Fr Luther roll over in his grave). On our side, we haven't necessarily done much better. Instead of wasting time by clearing out the Stygian stables (I know it's Augean, but I like the alliteration) of sexual perversity among the clergy, the Vatican spent the 1960s doing something really important like destroying the liturgy. I doubt if the gay agenda would have advanced so much in this decade if so much of the Catholic hierarchy hadn't been complicit with it for the past generation or more.

And let's go easy on poor Fr Luther, while we're at it. Sure, he had his Trump-like moments, but the church wasn't exactly in great shape back then, and had we been alive, who's to say what side each of us would have lined up with? If we had a choice, that is, which most of us wouldn't have had.

Anonymous said...

Why does Bergoglio and his ilk wish to become Lutherans when Lutherans have no desire to become Roman Catholics??

Rood Screen said...

What percentage of Swedish Lutherans go to a Lutheran church on a given Sunday?

Anonymous said...

I heard from somebody who knows him that gob had a stroke last week. He died. You won't hear from him any more.

johnnyc said...

I, as a Catholic, do recognize the past and current errors of protestants and will continue to use the tools of mercy that our Lord has given us to bring to light those errors.....

To instruct the ignorant
To counsel the doubtful
To admonish sinners

johnnyc said...

From the 'joint declaration'.....

"Rather, we have learned that what unites us is greater than what divides us."

Uh.....1324 The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."

Anonymous said...

None in Sweden or Denmark or Norway or Finland, the Lutheren heretic church is dead in Europe, for that matter so is the Roman Catholic Church in most of Europe.

John Nolan said...

Benedict XVI, 'the Pope of Christian unity' did much to foster good relations with the Lutherans in Germany, and the sentiments he expressed in public were much the same as Francis's. Note that Francis refers to the 'World Lutheran Federation and the Catholic Church' and calls the Reformation churches 'ecclesial communities' (cf 'Dominus Iesus').

To admit that the leadership of the Catholic Church (popes included) have made mistakes in the past is hardly controversial and the most 'rad' of 'trads' could point to some very recent ones! It does not mean that the Church has erred with regard to faith and morals.

In Germany Lutherans and Catholics alike suffered under the Hitlerian tyranny and there is much mutual goodwill. Also the liturgical and musical heritage of Lutheranism is part of a shared German culture. The opposition to Benedict's ecumenical gesture came mainly from conservative Lutherans in North America, to whom the Pope was still 'antichristus'. However, one Lutheran pastor and academic remarked at the time (2011) that because the Lutherans left the Church they tended to define themselves in terms of what they hated. If a man is dumped by his girlfriend he remembers all the things he loved about her; if he choose to leave her, he remembers all the things he disliked about her.

Bruder Martin is not an attractive figure; his exhortation to the princes to brutally suppress the peasants in 1525 is rightly notorious, and when Francis refers to divisions being 'perpetuated historically by the powerful of this world' he conveniently overlooks the fact that it was these very people whose support Luther sedulously and shamelessly cultivated.

Still, this is typical Bergoglio-ese; he has a tendency to see all institutions as embodiments of structural violence.

On an historical note, the Protestant Reformation should be dated from the Confession of Augsburg in 1530.

Rood Screen said...

The Council of Trent was our recognition of the problems we caused ourselves. Perhaps the Holy Father is considering returning the Church to the reforms of Trent.

Anonymous said...

Oh No! Nothing to see here. No bombshells whatsoever. The fact that the successor of Peter publicly thanked God for a heretic and a schism is a problem. The fact that a pope just decided that the Beatitudes were outdated for today and offered new ones, that's not a bombshell either. Ok ok. As usual Father you are making your expected educated and informed Opinions based on the infalible teachings of the Church. Just brilliant as usual. How's the vacation. When you take another one in the spring why not try a tropical island for a change and a cruise it would be a nice change from touring Europe from one end to another.

Anonymous said...

While visiting Germany a few years back, in particular "Catholic" Germany i.e. the Rhineland and Bavaria during Holy Week and up until Easter, the Catholic Churches were very much empty. Yes they were abundent and well taken care of, however there was really nobody attending Holy Mass. I thought to myself is this the future of Germany and Europe? Upon noticing one thing in particular was all the "men" coming out of bulidings all day long, these were NOT ethnic Germans God knows they are slowly dissapearing, but TURKS and plenty of them. They were coming out of builidngs used as MOSQUES I thought to myself Germany in a few short decades will be an ISLAMIC country before we know it. And my friends this was years before the ISLAMIC invasion upon Germany led by Angela Merkel herself. All I can say is Germany and Europe will be completly MUSLIM in roughly three short decades. The great cathedrals such as Colonge and Notre Dame will no longer have bells, but the call of the ISLAMIC muezzin!!

Anonymous said...

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has given the definitive answer on this:

"“We have already had an infallible response to the errors of Martin Luther: the Council of Trent,” the bishop from Kazakhstan said. “The teaching of the Council of Trent about the errors of Luther, I repeat, are infallible, ex cathedra. And the comments of the pope in the plane are not ex cathedra.”


Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone has commented about the changes in the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship that took place before Francis left Rome and leaving Cardinal Sarah isolated:

"Pope Francis, in one fell swoop has today carried out a stunning mass removal (see link below) of all conservative cardinals and bishops from the Vatican's Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship. On the hit list are Cardinals Burke, Scola, Pell, Ouellet, Ranjith and many others. The Pope has ousted all of the prelates who, together with the Prefect, make up the current membership of the Congregation, replacing them with 27 new and more 'progressive' members.

The noble Cardinal Robert Sarah, who recently aroused the Holy Father's ire by daring to promote a return to the priest's versus orientem position at Mass, remains at the head of the congregation; but his days there are clearly numbered, and he will now be considerably hemmed in by all the new and more liberal prelates who are to advise him and vote on all important decisions."

Anonymous said...

If it is true that Gob has died then we must pray for his soul, RIP.


rcg said...

Ould it be that Pope Francis is concerned with the terrible results of conflict because of what he saw in Argentina? This seems the only rational explanation for the initiatives of his Pontificate.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Tony V - I would encourage you to read JDDJ - it's a relatively brief document as these things go.

And it is not particularly heavy, either, as these things go. It tends to the practical, historical of matters theological.

The style is "repetitive." As Catholics we believe.....As Lutheran we believe. But this simply gives an accessible format to the document.

Tony V said...

Fr K, maybe I'll give it another go. But ever since I tried ARCIC I've had narcolepsy.

John Nolan said...

With regard to Gob and his reputed demise, one has to realize that he is not an identifiable entity since he posts under different pseudonyms, including 'Anonymous'. The blog owner knows who he is, and some other contributors seem to be party to this knowledge.

I simply don't care; I engage with opinions, not people unless they make themselves known, and one of the weaknesses of this type of forum is that anonymous trolls pop up, like Frankenstein's monstrous creation, to grin hideously at those whom they taunt. As soon as they start replacing argument with snide comments and impertinent variations on the names of those who at least have the honesty to reveal them, then I, at least, hold them in complete contempt.

If this particular monster has made his way to the North Pole, there to immolate himself, that's fine by me. But I won't hold my breath.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Tony V - I'm not suggesting that ecclesial documents are "light reading," but then neither is the Catechism or much of the documents of Vatican Two.

These take dedication and sticktoitiveness.

If you would like an excellent condensation of 50 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, get a copy of Declaration on the Way. "This is a unique ecumenical text that draws on 50 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in preparation for the 500th Reformation anniversary coming in 2017. Major sources are dialogues at the global level. But, as happened in the formation of the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, there's mutual reinforcement between global and more local conversations, including those in the U.S."

The small book summarizes the work that has been done over the last 50 years in a way that is readable and less formidable.

Gene said...

I agree with John Nolan. Gob chose to be a nobody, an anonymous troll. Whoever he is, he has disappeared into a richly deserved oblivion.

Rood Screen said...

I suspect that Gob: (a.) got stung ferociously by an army of fire ants that crawled through his Birkenstocks, (b.) got his pony-tail caught in a tree he was hugging, or (c.) is at a reggae concert in Jamaica.

Gene said...

Dialogue, Gob may have broken his neck when Hillary made a left turn without giving a signal.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan, how could you on All Souls Eve too? Even if we don't agree with Gob, this is the time to pray for his soul because it does sound as if he has died. I think that post was believable because I think Gob was very happy being Gob, even if he did blog under other names. Jan

rcg said...

If poor gob has died I hope his author has not. Only terminal writer's cramp.

James said...

Poor Gob: let's pray for him and his family (I can remember him saying he had six children).

One good thing to come out of the Lutheran ceremony is that it got Pope Francis wearing choir dress: let's hope he brought that rochet back to Rome with him.

John Nolan said...

Jan, an anonymous commentator claiming to have heard from someone else that another anonymous commentator who sometimes superscribes himself 'gob' has died doesn't sound very convincing. It could well be that he has decided to cease trading as 'gob' in order to troll under another pseudonym.

After all, Wipo of Mainz is still blogging and he is a contemporary of St Bernard (who died in 1153).

Of course I would pray for the soul of a fellow Christian, and it would be easier if he had a Christian name, his identity was not shrouded in mystery, and his demise was something more than a rumour.

James, choir dress for prelates includes the mozzetta; this is usually crimson for the pope, but can also be white. Bergoglio wore the customary scarlet one as a cardinal but unaccountably still refuses to wear one as pope.