Learning from luther

Shortly before the start of the Luther Decade, Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Curia has warned against demarcation in ecumenism. On the occasion of the Reformation anniversary in 2017, Protestantism can only wish for a return to the faith of the reformer Marin Luther, who would be deeply averse to all of today's liberal tendencies, the Vatican's "ecumenism minister" told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung".

Curia Cardinal Walter Kasper has warned against an intensification of antagonisms between Catholics and Protestants in the wake of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity called on the Protestant and Catholic churches on Tuesday in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" to use the anniversary of the Reformation to take stock of where they stand, to reflect on their common origins and their shared responsibility for the future. According to Kasper, there is no question of an "ecumenical ice age" at present. However, one could speak of a "disillusionment". The cardinal pointed out that the Pontifical Council for Unity is currently conducting 14 bilateral dialogues with other religious communities. This is "more than any other church". Kasper emphasized that he was curious to see how Protestantism would present itself at the Reformation anniversary in 2017. "One can only wish Protestantism a return to the faith of the reformer Martin Luther, who would be deeply averse to all of today's liberal tendencies," he emphasized. "It would be bad, on the other hand, if it became a new confessionalism."Denominationalism is the effort to sharply distinguish oneself from other denominations and ways of thinking by retreating to one's own confession. For Catholics, the cardinal wishes they would discover a "Luther full of the power of faith" who, although "you can't just make him Catholic," Catholics could learn from him, too. According to the cardinal, the term "ecumenism of profiles" thrown into the debate by the chairman of the Council of the Protestant Church (EKD), Bishop Wolfgang Huber, makes sense if it is aimed at a dialogue between partners who are aware of their own identity. "It becomes difficult, of course, when profile turns into distinction and demarcation takes the place of an exchange of gifts and riches."In this context, Kasper warned against using the programmatic phrase "Church of Freedom" used by the EKD in distinction to an allegedly authority-fixated Catholic Church. In all honesty, it must be said that Protestantism has been a very strong force in the history of Islam up to the 19th century. They were concerned, for example, that the church here was taking a special path that would lead to a separation from the universal church. That the Catholic Church had been closely "allied" with the state since the beginning of the twentieth century. Freedom should also not be understood in the sense of arbitrariness, but must include a close commitment to the confession of Christ and being there for others. On the question of a common Lord's Supper, the Cardinal said that according to both Catholic and traditional Lutheran understanding, church fellowship and communion belong together. They say that a general, indiscriminate invitation to communion to members of other confessions is therefore not possible and cannot be justified. Kasper admitted, however, that in strictly limited individual situations, access to communion should not be denied to members of Protestant churches. The president of the Unity Council expressed criticism of the course of the Protestant churches on ethical ies. While until recently there were hardly any differences between Catholics and Protestants in moral convictions, today a broad spectrum of opinions on the Protestant side and sometimes clear differences with the Catholic Church are emerging on topics such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality and embryo research. "The biblical witness seems to us to be clear on most of these questions," Kasper added. "Therefore, one must ask the Protestant partners how seriously they take the binding nature of Scripture." Kasper's contribution, printed in the FAZ, comes from the interview book "Wo das Herz des Glaubens schlagt" ("Where the Heart of Faith Beats"), recently published by Herder Publishers.

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