March 16, 2010.
A kind applause rang out as Pope Benedict XVI walked into a Lutheran Church in Rome. The pope and Lutheran Pastor Jens-Martin Kruse characterized their first face to face meeting as positive.
This is the second time a pope visited the Lutheran community in Rome. John Paul II visited for the first time in 1983, 500 years after the Martin Luther was born. Now on the 27th anniversary since that meeting, the Lutheran Church of Rome wanted to invite a pope for a second time.
In an impromptu address in German the pope said the meeting shows the fruits of ecumenical dialogue. He pointed out that by singing and praying together they show faith behind a single Christ.
Benedict XVI also recalled that despite improved relations there are still major differences and they can’t celebrate mass together. The Pope recalled the is a gift from God and that division is the result of human sin.
Meanwhile, the Lutheran pastor, Jens-Martin Kruse pointed the Christian sense of joy and invited both communities to walk together.
Music also took center stage at the ceremony. The choir, composed of Lutherans and German Catholics, sang pieces by Mozart, Bach and Mendelssohn. After the meeting, the Pope met with members of the community council. A courtesy visit that is seen as a step forward in ecumenical dialogue.