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A joint penance and reconciliation service was held in Germany to commemorate the Reformation in Germany. The chairman of the Roman Catholic German Bishop’s Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, and the chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, sponsored the meeting.

World Council of Churches general secretary, Rev, Olav Fykse Tveit spoke at the service on March 11 in Hildesheim, Germany. He praised the gathering as an “encouraging sign of unity in the world.” And when it comes to healing memories, the “power of forgiveness,” he added, can free up the way for the common witness that the world we live in desperately needs.

The organizers said that this year, for the first time in history, the Protestant and Catholic Churches in Germany, which have been separate since the Reformation 500 years ago are coming together for an ecumenical celebration of the anniversary. They said that the will for reconciliation would have been unimaginable in the past.

Characterizing the Reformation as division and disunity, Catholics have tried to say that Luther was criticizing abuses of his times, in spite of the fact that indulgences, the trigger for the Reformation are still proffered by the Catholic Church along with other abuses Luther protested. Likewise, Lutherans have long ago stopped thinking about the Reformation as a powerful defense of Bible truth in contrast to Roman Catholic errors and abuses.

Luther’s protest triggered the worldwide Reformation, which put the Roman Catholic Church on the defense, which led to some extremely bloody wars which were largely perpetrated by Rome.

“This is moment of truth and is a decisive step towards the unity of the church,” said Tveit in his message. “In the prayer of Jesus in John 17, we read that the unity of the disciples with one another is needed that the world may believe,” said the general secretary.

Catholic and Protestants have decided to share ecumenical celebrations of the Reformation anniversary during 2017 in different parts of Europe and the world, as well as in Germany.

German President Joachim Gauck and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel also attended the service that was broadcast live by national broadcaster ARD.

Ecumenism, begun by Rome after Vatican II is the process by which churches draw together toward full, visible, sacramental unity by minimizing distinctive doctrine.

“The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed—however important they might be from a Bible standpoint—must necessarily be waived.” The Great Controversy, page 444.

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A NEW SERIES in response to The Pope & Tony Palmer’s call for unity between Catholicism & Protestantism.

Text @(417) 693-6995