01Nov Celebrating the Reformation Centenary – a homily

REFORMATION CENTENARY

Gabriel Daly OSA

Good morning. Thank you for the welcome you have given me. I must thank Fr Hughes for inviting me to say a few words about the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther and the the Protestant Reformation. Some Catholics say that we are ‘marking’ the anniversary; I prefer to say ‘celebrating’. The church badly needed to be reformed, and Martin Luther did us all a favour in having the courage to risk his life in the profession of Christian values

Luther was an Augustinian theologian whom I like to think of as ‘Brother Martin’ who suffered intensely from the feeling that he could never please God by anything he did. He multiplied his prayers and penances, but he remained in despair. He once cried out “who will give me a merciful God?” Reading St Paul’s Letter to the Romans he became convinced that it is faith, not works that make us pleasing to God. We don’t do good deeds to win God’s favour; we do good works because grace has made us pleasing to God.

Suddenly his mental torment left him and he found peace with God. He looked at the church around him and saw that it was full of superstitions like the buying and selling of indulgences, cheap ways of getting into heaven- the exact opposite of his new convictions. Only the protection of some of the German princes saved him from serious punishment, including death, by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. He was excommunicated by Pope Leo X, who was a renaissance prince rather than a spiritual leader.

I am sometimes accused of being a Protestant! The same thing was said about the reformers at Vatican II. So I’m in good company. We have a divided church as a result of the Reformation, but great progress is being made in ecumenical dialogue to bring us together again. There have to be changes if unity is to come. We have much to learn from each other. The days when the Catholic Church thought it had all the answers and all Christian truth are long gone. All Christians, Protestant and Catholic, are totally dependent on the action of the Holy Spirit.

500 hundred years ago the move to reform the church resulted in a tragic division of Christians which lasted until the early 20th century, when some Protestant missionaries pointed out that their divisions were damaging the message they were trying to bring to the people they were evangelising. This realisation led to the beginning of the movement for Christian unity. Catholics were forbidden to join the movement until the reforms of the Second Vatican Council made it possible to join Protestants in the quest for Christian unity. That quest is very recent and it is up to us to give it our caring support.

Why not visit a Protestant or Anglican church and take part in a service? It is only 50 years ago that our church has allowed us to do it. Let’s remember those 450 years that were filled with enmity, lack of understanding and unconcern for the unity which Christ wished for his one church. Let’s remember all our brothers and sisters in Christ, Protestant and Catholic, instead of focusing on our own church exclusively.

23 Responses

  1. Pádraig McCarthy

    Thanks, Gabriel. It may seem odd to say so, but maybe we can remember that it’s “only” 500 years since this division started – 500 years too long, of course – but we had 1500 years of non-division before the Protestant split. And we had 1000 years of non-division before the Orthodox – Rome split. I would very much wish to see some form of re-union in my own lifetime. Pope Francis offers hope here.

    You write: “Why not visit a Protestant or Anglican church and take part in a service? It is only 50 years ago that our church has allowed us to do it.” Thanks be to God it is now possible. People nowadays may find it difficult to understand why on earth it was ever forbidden. It can help to recall our history in Ireland. When Catholic practice was penalised, many areas of life and work were closed off from Catholics. For example, if a Catholic wanted to enter the legal profession, he (then it was “he”) was required to become a member of the established State church, the Church of Ireland. Lest a Catholic would go through the formality of joining the established church but remain a practising Catholic, it was required that he attend Sunday services in the established church. Taking part in a service in that church was made not just a matter of worshipping God together, but was specifically a means of making a public statement of rejection of the Catholic church. This association did not change overnight once Catholic emancipation was enacted in 1829. Within living memory employment or promotion in certain commercial firms was difficult for Catholics.

    Thanks be to God that we have now moved ahead, and that there is no obstacle to attending funerals and weddings in other churches, and that Catholic priests also participate in interchurch weddings with the ministers of other churches. There is still much work to be done. It is helpful to be aware that at times when such things were not accepted, there were historical reasons for that situation.

  2. Bernard Whelan

    “Why not visit a Protestant or Anglican church and take part in a service?” To which I would add — and receive their Eucharist, if invited. Many Anglican churches include such an invitation to non-Anglicans in their order of service. It’s almost 20 years since the publication of One Bread, One Body, which should now be consigned to history.

  3. William

    The old order is still alive.
    I live in a Parish, where the Parish Priest, will not allow an advert in the Parish news letter, for an up coming alpha course.His reason for not allowing the advert “because they are Protestants” so much for ecumenism in our Parish.

  4. Pádraig McCarthy

    There is the hopeful
    “Joint Statement by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the conclusion of the year of the common commemoration of the Reformation, 31st October 2017, 31.10.2017”
    at http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/10/31/171031a.html.
    It is concise – just 737 words:

    On 31st of October 2017, the final day of the year of the common ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation, we are very thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, a commemoration that we have shared together and with our ecumenical partners globally. Likewise, we begged forgiveness for our failures and for the ways in which Christians have wounded the Body of the Lord and offended each other during the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation until today.
    We, Lutherans and Catholics, are profoundly grateful for the ecumenical journey that we have travelled together during the last fifty years. This pilgrimage, sustained by our common prayer, worship and ecumenical dialogue, has resulted in the removal of prejudices, the increase of mutual understanding and the identification of decisive theological agreements. In the face of so many blessings along the way, we raise our hearts in praise of the Triune God for the mercy we receive.
    On this day we look back on a year of remarkable ecumenical events, beginning on 31st October 2016 with the joint Lutheran-Catholic common prayer in Lund, Sweden, in the presence of our ecumenical partners. While leading that service, Pope Francis and Bishop Munib A. Younan, then President of the Lutheran World Federation, signed a joint statement with the commitment to continue the ecumenical journey together towards the unity that Christ prayed for (cf. Jn 17:21). On the same day, our joint service to those in need of our help and solidarity has also been strengthened by a letter of intent between Caritas Internationalis and the Lutheran World Federation World Service.
    Pope Francis and President Younan stated together: “Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. 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”.
    Among the blessings of this year of Commemoration is the fact that for the first time Lutherans and Catholics have seen the Reformation from an ecumenical perspective. This has allowed new insight into the events of the sixteenth century which led to our separation. We recognize that while the past cannot be changed, its influence upon us today can be transformed to become a stimulus for growing communion, and a sign of hope for the world to overcome division and fragmentation. Again, it has become clear that what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us.
    We rejoice that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, solemnly signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999, has also been signed by the World Methodist Council in 2006 and, during this Commemoration Year of the Reformation, by the World Communion of Reformed Churches. On this very day it is being welcomed and received by the Anglican Communion at a solemn ceremony in Westminster Abbey. On this basis our Christian communions can build an ever closer bond of spiritual consensus and common witness in the service of the Gospel.
    We acknowledge with appreciation the many events of common prayer and worship that Lutherans and Catholics have held together with their ecumenical partners in different parts of the world, as well as the theological encounters and the significant publications that have given substance to this year of Commemoration.
    Looking forward, we commit ourselves to continue our journey together, guided by God’s Spirit, towards the greater unity according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. With God’s help we intend to discern in a prayerful manner our understanding on Church, Eucharist and Ministry, seeking a substantial consensus so as to overcome remaining differences between us. With deep joy and gratitude we trust “that He who has begun a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Ph 1:6).

  5. Con Devree

    One can agree with Pope Benedict (probably the most informed catholic on Martin Luther and a prime instigator of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification) that a positive Christian challenge emanates from some of Luther’s sermons and that there are genuine Christian values in Luther’s works.

    At the same time his crude calumniation of Catholics and Catholicism, his anti-Semitism, his indifference to the plight of the peasants in whose deaths he was complicit, and his efforts to undo the sacramental foundations of Catholicism make it difficult to discern the grounds for celebration of the current anniversary. He did regard himself as possessed of an auchtoritas comparable to that of the Apostle Paul.

    The root article above and the linked Joint Statement of the Luthern Federation and the Pope (#4) demonstrate the immense challenge of undoing the work of Martin Luther. They reveal that what has been achieved is merely friendly relations and a modus vivendi among communities that remain divided.

    However one must always remember another Ratzinger dictum – Christianity as a whole rests on the victory of the improbable, on the impulse of the Holy Spirit. The end of the period dominated by controversy and the lives of piety of members of both religions are the justified reasons for celebration.

    Within a year of the publication of the 95 “Theses” Cajetan, the envoy sent by the Pope to engage Luther concluded prophetically that Luther’s concept of faith meant “nothing less than the founding of a new church.”

    This new Lutheran idea of faith changed his spiritual life and thought and IT became the core and real reason for his opposition to the Roman Church.

    The Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism, no 12, states that “Nothing is so alien to Ecumenism as that false irenisism (promoting peace and reconciliation relying on reason) by which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers damage and its genuine and plain sense is ignored.”
    It warns that those things that we can learn from separated Christians “have to be carefully separated from the Deposit of Faith.” (No 6)

    Consequently, an indifferentism with regard to faith that sees the question of truth as an obstacle, measures unity by mere expediency and thus turns it into an external pact that bears always within itself the seeds of new divisions.

    A peace which rests on a surrender of truth would be equivalent to burying the faith.

    As this thread shows Catholics self-flagellate (Gratefully Padraig McCarthy #1 brings a necessary balance) with a zeal which often overshoots the mark. This is but a bland gesture in relation to ecumenism.

    The problems on the Luthern side run much deeper. Take for instance the Confessio Augustana (CA), the first foundational Lutheran confessional text. The prerequisite of Sola Scriptura means that CA has no other theological quality than that of being a correct interpretation of Scripture, and therefore subject to correction by later theologians. Consequently CA became just one confessional text among many. In subsequent confessions the polemical accent against the Catholic Church strengthened. The Luthern Church cannot speak in matters of faith with any more authority than can a theologian. So what basis is there for unity within the Luthern Church itself? Note the four Lutheran Churches in the US.

    Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is the largest Lutheran Church on the planet. Like traditional Catholicism it demonstrates that the guarantee of unity is a Christianity of faith and fidelity that lives the faith as a decision with a definite content. But precisely for that reason it is always searching for unity and lets itself be constantly purified and deepened as a preparation for unity.

    So at Mass we Catholics plead to Christ present on the altar for unity in doctrine (definite content) in the prayer just prior to the sign of peace and at other times in the Mass. This search together with our efforts at being faithful generate purification and deepening of faith. This course of action if repeated across the religions leads humanity beyond itself and is the key to unity. It clearly outperforms our tendency to self-flagellation or irenisism.

  6. Sean O'Conaill

    #5 “So at Mass we Catholics plead to Christ present on the altar for unity in doctrine (definite content) in the prayer just prior to the sign of peace and at other times in the Mass.”

    Another gratuitously rhetorical use of “we Catholics” – when in my experience most of those present at Mass could easily be on autopilot (i.e. bodily present but mentally in Acapulco). In my 74 years I cannot remember once being asked to stop and ask myself what, centrally, I am affirming when I say the Creed, or at any other time of the Mass.

    And, increasingly, I am deeply discontent that, for most celebrants, autopilot is all that is required.

    So, while deeply attached to that Creed, and very anxious to discuss what, centrally, it affirms, I find I have no opportunity, hereabouts, to do that in a Catholic context. Were a Lutheran to offer such an opportunity, I would jump at it, and sup with him / her also.

    Could we all please stop making rhetorical assertions of this kind – especially when our congregations are increasingly empty of people young enough to give us hope that any of our affirmations will survive us for much longer?

    And could we remember also that Jesus’ injunction was ‘love one another as I have loved you’ NOT ‘Thou shalt always be RIGHT!’

  7. Con Devree

    #6 “So at Mass we Catholics plead to Christ present on the altar for unity in doctrine ( definite content) in the prayer just prior to the sign of peace and at other times in the Mass.”

    This sentence from #5 was never intended to be rhetorical or have to do with rhetoric in any way. It refers to a prayer in the Missal which prays for peace and unity in the Church in accordance with the will of God. It is presumed that the unity prayed for is akin to that described in Acts 2:42 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
    In other words the more unity is prayed for as part of the Mass and combined with daily prayer and good works in the context of the content of the faith the greater will be the probability of deeper unity.

    I think there are four times in the Mass when prayers or Credo begin with the personal pronouns “I” or “my”. All other prayers invoke the notion of “we”, “us”, “our”. The priest and/or congregation are invited to pray with and for each other, whose effect is to facilitate the creation of community. This creates great freedom in seeking to be aware of fellow congregants while praying in this fashion while allowing them to take responsibility for their mode of participation. That is the context in which the phrase “we Catholics” was used in #5.

    If Sean and I were fellow parishioners I’m afraid he would find me in autopilot at times. I won’t say how often. I am easily distracted. But the more I study the Mass and the more effort I make to attend properly my durations in autopilot decrease. My parish priest relies totally on the text of the Missal to deliver the goods. This reduces the level of distraction.

    I have no hesitation in saying that we laity need recurrent instruction on the Mass, the source and summit of our faith. I cannot remember when last I received any, and other Catholics tell me the same. Consequently I sympathise completely with what Sean says about reflection on the Creed.

  8. Paddy Ferry

    Sean@6, I could agree more. Well said!!

  9. Sean O'Conaill

    #7 Thanks, Con, for explaining that – and ‘mea culpa’ for my ‘shortness’. My approach should have been interrogatory rather than assertive.

  10. sean walsh

    There is something shocking – disgusting, even – about a celebrant at the altar consecrating the bread and wine while on auto-pilot: mechanical, wooden, spiritless, devoid of emotion… And it would be a serious mistake for such a cleric to imagine that at least some members of the congregation are not scandalised by such a lack of enthusiasm for the central mystery of our religion…

  11. Joe O'Leary

    Con Devree: “what has been achieved is merely friendly relations and a modus vivendi among communities that remain divided.”

    No, there is also a theological encounter, as the document mentions: “We rejoice that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, solemnly signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999, has also been signed by the World Methodist Council in 2006 and, during this Commemoration Year of the Reformation, by the World Communion of Reformed Churches. On this very day it is being welcomed and received by the Anglican Communion at a solemn ceremony in Westminster Abbey. On this basis our Christian communions can build an ever closer bond of spiritual consensus and common witness in the service of the Gospel.”

    Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (an inspired retrieval of St Paul’s) is cherished by many Christians outside the Lutheran world, and the 1999 Joint Declaration gives Catholics the freedom to rejoice in it as well.

    “This new Lutheran idea of faith changed his spiritual life and thought and IT became the core and real reason for his opposition to the Roman Church.”

    This is correct, and Luther said that if the Roman Church accepted his teaching on Justification he would have no quarrel with it any longer.

    So we need to keep on studying Paul and Luther’s commentaries on him in order to attune ourselves to this nexus of salvation.

  12. Joe O'Leary

    “Christ summons the Church to continual reformation as she sojourns here on earth. The Church is always in need of this, in so far as she is an institution of men here on earth. Thus if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in church discipline, or even in the way that church teaching has been formulated – to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself – these can and should be set right at the opportune moment.” (Unnitatis redintegration, # 6)

    “It warns that those things that we can learn from separated Christians “have to be carefully separated from the Deposit of Faith.” (No 6)”. At the most it could be saying that the Church’s errors or sins do not affect the deposit of faith, It poses no obstacle to the present theological convergence on Justification.

  13. Joe O'Leary

    Unitatis redintegratio # 6 also admits church formulations of doctrine may have been inadequate. This gives a powerful impetus to ecumenical dialogue and especially to deeper understanding of the key Reformation doctrine of Justification by Faith.

    This is not a surrender of truth but a quest for fuller embrace of truth.

  14. Con Devree

    # 11 to 13
    The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JD) is indeed a step forward.

    However there is one very important but overlooked sentence in the JD – “It does not cover all that either church teaches about justification;” (Par 5)

    Bishop Brendan Leahy describes JD as a “differentiated consensus,” each side can sign up to it knowing that each side has different emphases.

    Thus the following paragraph from the Catechism is not denied by JD but could not be included in it.

    “No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods” (Catechism, par. 2027).

    The same holds for paragraph 1459.

    “Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is called “penance” (Catechism, par. 1459).

    Similarly Paragraph 15 in JD refers to the Holy Spirit “calling us to good works.” Matthew 25, 34-40 provides an example of a call to good works that leaves no room for choice.

    The document “The Response Of The Catholic Church To The Joint Declaration Of The Catholic Church And The Lutheran World Federation On The Doctrine Of Justification” (CDF and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) speaks of “major difficulties preventing an affirmation of total consensus between the parties on the theme of Justification.” (Par 1)

    It further states that “eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merits.”

    On the Luthern side the Confessional Lutherans in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, as well as some other smaller church bodies in that tradition, do not agree with the Joint Declaration.

    Again one must be grateful for the coming together in dialogue of the parties and their efforts at mutual understanding.

  15. Joe O'Leary

    “No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods” (Catechism, par. 2027).

    This utterance of the Catechism could be clarified by invoking the distinction between justification and sanctification stressed in Protestant theology.

    “Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is called “penance” (Catechism, par. 1459).

    Again, this is about sanctification, not justification.

    “The document “The Response Of The Catholic Church To The Joint Declaration Of The Catholic Church And The Lutheran World Federation On The Doctrine Of Justification” (CDF and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) speaks of “major difficulties preventing an affirmation of total consensus between the parties on the theme of Justification.””

    This dates from 1998, a year before the Joint Declaration was signed. The word “total” does not undercut the very substantial consensus the JD enacts and proclaims.

    “It further states that “eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merits.””

    Standing before God we cannot point to our good works as meriting eternal life but only cast ourself on his mercy through faith in Christ (who mantles us with his own righteousness). The “reward” aspect is subsequent and secondary to this, concerning more the use of the Law for sanctification than the fundamental event of justification (where the sinner condemned by the Law casts him or herself on the mercy of Christ)..

    “On the Lutheran side the Confessional Lutherans in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, as well as some other smaller church bodies in that tradition, do not agree with the Joint Declaration.”

    Same true of leading German theologians Eberhard Jüngel and Ingolf Dalferth. But their (or the Vatican’s) theological purism does not to my mind undercut the major movement of faith that has prevailed in the Declaration.

  16. Con Devree

    I think that # 10 to 15 show that JD is and was a work in progress, for which we should be grateful.

    In dealing with the difference/similarity between justification and sanctification in the Luthern context, the question arise as to which “Lutheranism” one is referring to. In JD there is a quotation “”As Lutherans we maintain the distinction between justification and sanctification, of faith and works, which however implies no separation.” Other Luthern commentaries do not fully agree.

    Perhaps this state of affairs is referred to in paragraph 6 of the Catholic Response to JD:

    “We need finally to note, from the point of view of their representative quality, the different character of the two signataries of this Joint Declaration. The Catholic Church recognises the great effort made by the Lutheran World Federation in order to arrive, through consultation of the Synods, at a “magnus consensus”, and so to give a true ecclesial value to its signature; there remains, however, the question of the real authority of such a synodal consensus, today and also tomorrow, in the life and doctrine of the Lutheran community.”

    The version of the Catholic Response to JD quoted from above at # 14 is dated November 1, 1999.

  17. Joe O'Leary

    “In JD there is a quotation “”As Lutherans we maintain the distinction between justification and sanctification, of faith and works, which however implies no separation.” Other Luthern commentaries do not fully agree.”

    Who are those who do not fully agree? Perhaps you mean the Finnish school, who tend to erase the distinction between justification and sanctification, and who are closer to the view of Osiander than to Luther?

  18. Joe O'Leary

    The document about the Catholic response to the JD is rather superfluous, since the JD itself gives the Catholic view, and the document cited neither adds nor subtracts anything from this. If it did contradict the JD in any way it would make the Church look very foolish.

  19. Con Devree

    # 18
    The document is not “about” the catholic response. It is THE response formulated by two Vatican offices. It even gives reasons why two offices were involved.

    When two sets of theologians from different churches engage in “dialogue of charity”, the outcome of their deliberations, however exhaustive, even when authorised to do so by the Pope, have to be subject to the judgement of the Pope whose prime task is to protect the deposit of faith.

    Perhaps The Response is a development of the sentence in JD par 5 “It [JD] does not cover all that either church teaches about justification;” (Par 5). One gets the impression that JD represents progress, a statement representing aspects both sides do not deny.

    JD abounds with statements characterised by phrases specifying what each side does not deny. There has to be a reason why many of these “not denys” were not formulated as simple statements of agreement.

    This is not to disparage JD or to overlook the joint confession in paragraph 15. “Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

    But even here the implications of the phrase “calling us to good works” is in effect another something both sides do not deny, but to what extent do they agree on its implications.

    #17 indicates a competence on your part to expound on Lutheranism.

  20. Joe O'Leary

    The judgement of the Pope on the Joint Declaration has been powerfully expressed by Pope Francis:

    “Pope Francis: I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct. But in that time, if we read the story of the Pastor, a German Lutheran who then converted when he saw reality – he became Catholic – in that time, the Church was not exactly a model to imitate. There was corruption in the Church, there was worldliness, attachment to money, to power…and this he protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and because he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, ALL OF US AGREE ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION. ON THIS POINT, WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT, HE DID NOT ERR. HE MADE A MEDICINE FOR THE CHURCH, but then this medicine consolidated into a state of things, into a state of a discipline, into a way of believing, into a way of doing, into a liturgical way and he wasn’t alone; there was Zwingli, there was Calvin, each one of them different, and behind them were who? Principals! We must put ourselves in the story of that time. It’s a story that’s not easy to understand, not easy. Then things went forward, and today the dialogue is very good. That document of justification I think is ONE OF THE RICHEST ECUMENICAL DOCUMENTS IN THE WORLD, ONE IN MOST AGREEMENT. But there are divisions, and these also depend on the Churches. In Buenos Aires there were two Lutheran churches, and one thought in one way and the other…even in the same Lutheran church there was no unity; but they respected each other, they loved each other, and the difference is perhaps what hurt all of us so badly and today we seek to take up the path of encountering each other after 500 years. I think that we have to pray together, pray. Prayer is important for this. Second, to work together for the poor, for the persecuted, for many people, for refugees, for the many who suffer; to work together and pray together and the theologians who study together try…but this is a long path, very long. One time jokingly I said: I know when full unity will happen. – “when?” – “the day after the Son of Man comes,” because we don’t know…the Holy Spirit will give the grace, but in the meantime, praying, loving each other and working together. Above all for the poor, for the people who suffer and for peace and many things…against the exploitation of people and many things in which they are jointly working together.”

    http://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/01/19/pope-francis-martin-luther-wanted-to-renew-the-church-not-divide-her

    http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/07/04/vatican_note_on_reformed_churches_signing_of_justification/1322981

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/world/europe/pope-francis-in-sweden-urges-catholic-lutheran-reconciliation.html

    As to my “competence to expound on Lutheranism”, I have discussed these matters intensively with German Lutherans, and written at least five scholarly articles on them. Your reply seems to confirm that I detected correctly that like many others you were alluding to the Finnish theologians who seem to make sanctification the ground of justification rather than the other way round.

  21. Joe O'Leary

    Of course I have only paddled on the edges of a vast debate, but here are my efforts:

    ‘Language in Luther’s Reformation Breakthrough’. Australian EJournal of Theology 8 (Oct. 2006).
    http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/research/theology/ejournal/aejt_8/luther.htm

    ‘Paul, Origen and Melanchthon on Justification’. Australian EJournal of Theology 11 (July 2008)
    http://aejt.com.au/2008/issue_12

    http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/07/erasmus-and-luther-revisited.html

    http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/10/%C3%BCberwindung-der-metaphysik-bei-erasmus-und-luther.html

    http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/07/impeded_witness.html

  22. Con Devree

    Thank you. I will read them

  23. Paddy Ferry

    Joe, I want to thank you for such an excellent contribution to this debate.(And, also, Padraig earlier for sharing with us the “Joint Statement by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the conclusion of the year of the common commemoration of the Reformation, 31st October 2017, 31.10.2017”)
     I chaired our Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission when the Joint Statement was published and we studied it at some depth. To be honest, I knew very little about the Doctrine of Justification until that moment. While I am still not an expert on the subject, I thought I would have to respond to Con if nobody else with greater knowledge did. So, I am so pleased that you took that on Joe and did it with your usual excellence.

    Con, what can I say. I do admire your knowledge too and your obvious commitment to the cause. But where is your sense of hope or your sense of joy at what has been achieved so far. I have to say, reading your comments, I am reminded of Francis’ frequent references to narcissism as being one of the major ailments that blights our Catholic Church. In fact, at one of the large congregational meetings before he went into the conclave which elected him Pope, he specifically pinpointed “theological narcissism”. Sean O’Conaill summed it all up very well when he said “And could we remember also that Jesus’ injunction was ‘love one another as I have loved you’ NOT ‘Thou shalt always be RIGHT!’”

    I was also surprised to read you telling us that Ratzinger was “a prime instigator” of the Joint Statement. I don’t think so, Con. My reading at the time lead me to believe that he was one of the few negative voices, infact. I also remember being present at a talk by a Dominican theologian here in Edinburgh who was an expert on the subject  ( whose name now eludes me) who took us through the whole  process which led to the Joint Statement. Ratzinger was less than fulsome in his support, referring to confession/the sacrament of reconciliation, among other things, as also of importance in salvation, we were told. As a result he was savaged by his compatriots in the German press and had to retreat. This Dominican speaker told us that the other reason Ratzinger had to retreat was an awareness this was John Paul II big chance of achieving something substantial ecumenically during his pontiicate, and nothing could put that at risk. I think we could all agree that despite his other failings, JPII had a genuine commitment to the cause of Christian Unity. I wonder are you getting your German theologians mixed up, Con. There was much written at the time of how Hans Kung had proposed much of what was in the Joint Statement many years before and that he ,in fact, was the great instigator of the new Catholic approach to the Doctrine of Justification.

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