Pope Francis to attend joint Lutheran and Catholic commemoration of Reformation in Sweden

(Photo: Osservatore Romanot)Pope Francis received a refugee's teapot as an invitation to work together for the suffering neighbor when he met a group from the Lutheran World Federation in 2013.

Pope Francis is to travel to Sweden in October for a joint ecumenical commemoration of the start of the Reformation, together with leaders of the Lutheran World Federation and representatives of other Christian Churches.

It is almost 500 years since Martin Luther was at the forefront of the Reformation that later pitted Catholics and Protestants against one another for many years.

The Pope said in 2013 that confronting the historical reality of the Reformation is important as it enables Catholics and Lutherans to rejoice together "in the longing for unity which the Lord has awakened in our hearts, and which makes us look with hope to the future."

Now, the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church will hold their joint ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation on Oct. 31 in Lund, Sweden, the Vatican news service and LWF said in Jan. 25 statements.

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The one-day event will include a common worship service in Lund cathedral based on a Catholic-Lutheran "Common Prayer" liturgical guide, published earlier this month by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the LWF.

Pope Francis, LWF President Bishop Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge will lead the Ecumenical Commemoration in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.

The joint ecumenical event will take place in the city of Lund in anticipation of the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017.

It will highlight the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue.

'ECUMENICAL ACCOUNTABILITY'

"The LWF is approaching the Reformation anniversary in a spirit of ecumenical accountability," says Junge.

"I'm carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence."

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said, "By concentrating together on the centrality of the question of God and on a Christocentric approach, Lutherans and Catholics will have the possibility of an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation, not simply in a pragmatic way, but in the deep sense of faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ.

Church of Sweden Archbishop Antje Jackelén noted, "It is with joy and expectation that the Church of Sweden welcomes The Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church to hold the joint commemoration of the Reformation in Lund.

"We shall pray together with the entire ecumenical family in Sweden that the commemoration will contribute to Christian unity in our country and throughout the world."

The Lund event is part of the reception process of the study document From Conflict to Communion, published in 2013 and since widely distributed to Lutheran and Catholic communities.

The document is the first attempt by both dialogue partners to describe together at international level the history of the Reformation and its intentions.

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