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Why Pope Francis goes to Sweden for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

2016-10-22

About 500 years ago, Martin Luther initiated a major schism in the history of the Church: the division between Protestants and Catholics.

Half a millennium later, Pope Francis will travel to Sweden to remember this painful separation and send a message of hope: that unity is possible.

JENS-MARTIN KRUSE
Lutheran pastor (Rome)
"I think the world needs a gesture of Christian unity. A gesture. A gesture that says Christians are committed to peace. There are no more wars between us. The world needs a gesture that says that peace is possible."

SILVANO GIORDANO
Historian, Pontifical Gregorian University
"In a secularized world, we need Christians who join forces in order to spread their spirit throughout society. This is a specifically Christian contribution to the world, despite obvious differences and opposing perceptions that was and still is between them." 

Professor Silvano Giordano recalls that the success of the Reformation was partly due to political motivation. So, since the separation of political and religious power, ecumenical dialogue has dramatically improved. 

SILVANO GIORDANO
Historian, Pontifical Gregorian University
"We must bear in mind the cultural context of the Reformation. At that time, there was a big difference between Latin and Germanic origin. The Church in Germany did not want to depend on Rome. It had its own pride."

Lutheran pastor, Jens-Martin Kruse, has been one of the biggest players in the ecumenical dialogue in recent years. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis all visited his church in Rome. 

JENS-MARTIN KRUSE
Lutheran pastor (Rome)
"We need strong popes and bishops with courage, because we must continue toward the path to unity. There is not enough theological dialogue. We must bear witness together."

After the trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, the pope reiterated the importance of ecumenical dialogue during these times.

This is one of the lines the Church specifically promoted after Vatican Council II: that faith can no longer be used as a weapon to justify wars and it must become a tool at the service of peace.


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