Ecumenical News International

EKD Vice-president presses for ecumenical celebration of the Reformation anniversary

October 30, 2012

Frankfurt a.M. (epd). Thies Gundlach, vice-president of the EKD Church Office, is pressing for the Evangelical and Catholic Church to use the 2017 anniversary as the beginning of a "wonderful friendship". The internal agreements between the Reformation and the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) are arguments for joint celebration, he writes in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper (see issue of 30 October).

In respect to the two major church anniversaries there are points in common for Protestants and Catholics, such as "the many ecumenical achievements that render visible the truth and beauty of Christian faith 500 years after the Reformation and 50 years after the Vatican II," argues the vice-president of the Church Office of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The two mainline churches are united by more than what divides them.

Anyone who speaks of a "Protestantization of the Roman Catholic Church" does not sufficiently perceive the source of the agreements and does not do justice to the committed Catholics who "do not want to become Protestants but seek aggiornamento in their Roman Catholic Church".

From the Protestant angle, Vatican II was a milestone, the theologian writes. Unfortunately, he adds, we often get the impression today that the Roman Catholic Church is not really happy with this new departure, and more preoccupied with arguing about how to interpret it properly.

The Council made great progress, according to Gundlach, regarding the significance of the individual conscience, the willingness to learn from other Christian churches and religions, recognizing religious freedom and reading the Gospel in the respective vernacular. These innovations and the Reformation insights of the 16th century overlap at many points. Gundlach particularly underlines the prominent role played by Scripture, the significance of baptism as a bond between all Christians regardless of their church affiliation, and the willingness to accept ecumenism.



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