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November 3, 2016, 8:28 AM

A Big Deal  on Reformation Day

“What happened in the past cannot be changed, but what is remembered of the past and how it is remembered can, with the passage of time, indeed change. Remembrance makes the past present. “
- From Conflict to Communion, a joint publication of the Vatican and Lutheran World Federation

On Reformation day, the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church will hold a joint commemoration of the Reformation in Lund and Malmö, Sweden. Pope Francis, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge will lead the Common Prayer service in Lund and then an event in Malmö. (The services will be live-streamed. You can view the live-stream if you wish.)  Update: the service is available at:  

This commemoration will highlight the ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans over the past fifty years.  While the  churches are still far from “full communion”, theses events are certainly significant steps forward for not just Lutherans and Roman Catholics, but all Christians as we both celebrate the unique gifts of each denomination and the unity we already share in Christ as his followers.  Last June on his flight back to Rome from Armenia, Pope Francis even praised Luther.  He told reporters, "The church was not a role model, there was corruption, there was worldliness, there was greed, and lust for power. He protested against this. And he was an intelligent man." (quote from: 

As we look to the future of the church, this event and others like it will mark what kind of church we hope to be for the next 500 years.  The Christian church as a whole has been blessed and enriched through our Lutheran theological perspective; that is our heritage—that is what we remember and commemorate this day.  We do not celebrate the divisions and in some cases, the violence undertaken by Christians against other Christians in our past history.  Rather, we look to the future with hope for what Christ will do through his disciples of every denomination to proclaim his good news of forgiveness and eternal life.


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