September 23, 2011. (Romereports.com)
Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue have been key during the pope's trip to Germany. The most symbolic moment was perhaps, his visit to the convent where Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reform, lived from 1505 to 1511.
Upon arriving, the pope met with the leaders of the Lutheran Church. During his speech, he said one of the main priorities of ecumenism is to prevent the pressures of secularization to eliminate the common ground they already share.
Afterward, the pope prayed for the unity of all Christians. During that same ceremony, the president of Germany's Lutheran Synod, referred to the pope as “our brother Benedict.”
The pope went on to say that all people need God. As a common mission, he said the best thing Christians can do is to show others that Jesus is the living God.
“In an ecumenical gathering, we ought not only to regret our divisions and separations, but we should also give thanks to God for all the elements of unity which he has preserved for us.”
Before taking on the trip to Germany, the pope said, he was asked to make so called religious compromises or 'ecumenical gifts' that could bring Lutherans and Catholics closer. The pope declined, saying this type of negotiation, reflects a misunderstanding between the meanings of faith and ecumenism.
“The faith of Christians does not rest on such a weighing of benefits and drawbacks. A self-made faith is worthless. Faith is not something we work out intellectually or negotiate between us. It is the foundation for our lives. Unity grows not by the weighing of benefits and drawbacks but only by entering ever more deeply into the faith in our thoughts and in our lives.”
About 300 people were present during the ceremony, including German president Christian Wulff and Chancellor Angela Merkel. A choir made up of Catholics and Protestants sung during the gathering.
The pope plans to travel to what was formerly East Germany, to pray in a Catholic shrine that became a symbol of the fight against communism.