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Vatican Scholars will study the figure of Luther to understand why the Reformation occurred

2017-03-22

The Vatican will examine the figure of Luther from both an academic and historical point of view. It is more than theological issues that explain the beginning of the Reformation.

P. JOHANNES GROHE
Professor of Medieval History, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"Luther does not act in union with the Emperor. It is the regional princes in Germany who take the reform as an occasion to go against the Pope and the Emperor. Charles V is seen in this struggle against Luther and against the Protestant princes in order to maintain the unity of the Empire. Thus the reform, in 10-15 years, becomes, from a matter of reform of customs and ideology, a political struggle."

This political maneuver of the German nobles against the emperor, Charles V of Germany, accelerated this division. Although the Church was not a rigid institution, it had already underwent reforms, such as those relating to religious orders. The meeting will analyze these historical and political circumstances that accelerated the division.

P. BERNARD ARDURA
President, Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences 
"In past centuries, Luther has been seen as the incarnation of the devil, as one who has broken communion. Today is not about saying that he has done something good, but we can explain how it happened."

Five centuries have passed since Martin Luther's famous 95 theses. Since then, many steps have been taken to bring the two branches closer.  This can be seen particularly following the Second Vatican Council, where the Church favored a change in attitude. 

P. BERNARD ARDURA
President, Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences 
"It's an open wound, but the look is not the same. We have a look of charity, a reciprocal look, which sees good will in the other."

For example, proof of this was Pope Francis's trip to Sweden to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The conference on Luther will be held from March 29 to 31. It seeks to delve into the past in order to walk together in the future. As Pope Francis says, it must be done through dialogue, but without losing one's identity.


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