Ecumenical News International

Schneider and Lehmann stress kinship between Protestants and Catholics

January 20, 2012

Mainz (epd) Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz considers a joint statement by the Catholic and Protestant churches on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation to be conceivable. In the television show "Sonntagsgespräch" (Sunday conversation) of the Hessian Broadcasting Company "hr" (for "Hessischer Rundfunk") the chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) Nikolaus Schneider also spoke in favor of a joint celebration by Protestants and Catholics in 2017. "I hope that together we can celebrate a Christ feast," he said at the taping of the show in Mainz.

A joint statement of the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican is currently being prepared in view of the Reformation Jubilee in 2017. This document will highlight the international significance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The event that is considered to have sparked the Reformation was the posting by Martin Luther (1483-1546) of his 95 theses on Wittenberg's Castle Church door in 1517.

According to Lehmann and Schneider, the rapprochement between Protestants and Catholics, after centuries of hostility, is now closer than is usually realized by the public. The cardinal of Mainz was fascinated by the amount of common ground that has already been achieved after more than four centuries of separation.

The EKD Council chair explained that the remaining differences, for example, with regard to the understanding of the Lord's Supper and the role of the Pope, could not be resolved by means of a negotiated compromise: "We do not negotiate like political parties, because we are both seeking the truth."

In recent decades, the Catholic side has also re-evaluated the person of Martin Luther, Lehmann said.  He personally considered Luther to be a "father in faith" who did not wish for schism in the church. Schneider, when asked whether someone like Martin Luther could still be a pastor in the Protestant church, replied evasively: Regarding Luther's "positive side, I would be very happy," he said. "With the negative side, I would have problems."

The "Sunday Conversation" with Lehmann and Schneider is part of the hr week of specials to mark the one-thousandth "Horizons" broadcast, which will be aired on January 25. The moderator of both programs is Meinhard Schmidt-Degenhard.



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