Reforming the Reformation

By Suderman, Brenda | Winnipeg Free Press, October 29, 2016 | Go to article overview

Reforming the Reformation


Suderman, Brenda, Winnipeg Free Press


Next week, local Lutheran pastors and Catholic priests plan to gather over their morning coffee to watch history unfold.

For the first time in nearly five centuries, international leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation will join in an hour-long common prayer service on Monday at the Lund Cathedral in southern Sweden.

"This is very historic," says Winnipeg-based Bishop Elaine Sauer of the Manitoba-Northwestern Ontario Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

"We've never had Lutheran and Roman Catholic leaders come together in a worship setting. This is a line in the sand."

Sauer hosts a breakfast for Lutheran pastors and Catholic priests from Winnipeg's three archdioceses at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in River Heights, followed by a livestream at 8:30 a.m. of the by-invitation-only cathedral event, led by Pope Francis and Bishop Munib A. Younan and Rev. Martin Junge of the Lutheran World Federation.

Another 10,000 or so people will participate in a public gathering with Catholic and Lutheran leaders later that day at Malmö Arena, in a city just west of Lund.

These international events mark the beginning of a year-long commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the beginning of the Lutheran church. On Oct. 31, 1517, German Catholic monk Martin Luther publicly opposed the church's practice of selling indulgences, which triggered events leading to the establishment of the Protestant church.

"It will be a visible reminder to the world," Sauer says of the events in Sweden, expected to be watched worldwide.

"Even though there was a major schism in the church, we are working together to find common mission."

Both Christian denominations will explore that mission in a series of workshops designed to build a common understanding of the Reformation and how Lutherans and Catholics can work together in the future, says Richard Gagnon, the Archbishop of Winnipeg who was part of the group that designed the workshops, scheduled to begin next year. …

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