Many Catholic bloggers commented on Pope Francis’s participation in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. While some were positive, others were perplexed at the pope’s initiative. In his address to participants in a March 2017 meeting themed, Luther: 500 Years Later, Pope Francis acknowledged his own surprise that an Office of the Holy See had convened Catholics and Lutherans to discuss Luther. After all, Pope Francis explained, “not long ago a meeting like this would have been unthinkable.”
Why would the pope commemorate the Reformation, the consequence of which was greater division among Christians and the separation of Protestants from communion with Rome? This was a question on many minds. The Protestant Reformation involved controversies over such topics as: indulgences; the authority of scripture; and the doctrine of justification to name only a few.
Keen to promote reconciliation and peace, Pope Francis, at a prayer service in Sweden, reflected: “We too must look with love and honesty at our past, recognizing error and seeking forgiveness, for God alone is our judge. We ought to recognize with the same honesty and love that our division distanced us from the primordial intuition of God’s people, who naturally yearn to be one, and that it was perpetuated historically by the powerful of this world rather than the faithful people, which always and everywhere needs to be guided surely and lovingly by its Good Shepherd.”
The Vatican has also published an important and ecumenically groundbreaking document entitled, From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017. This document is available on the Vatican website and is recommended reading for anyone seeking to learn more about Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the key theological debates in the light of the response offered by the Catholic Church.
You can also learn more by studying the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism. Finally, if you would like to engage in this ecumenical dialogue concretely, join us as we gather with Bishop McGrattan and other bishops representing the Anglican and Lutheran denominations, to pray together for better Christian cooperation as we commemorate 500 years since the Reformation in our own diocese on Sunday October 29. Please see Diocesan Dates on page 21 for the details.
The Diocese of Calgary, St. Luke’s Catholic Church, and Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church will be partnering in a series of joint prayer through Lent 2017. Our services of joint prayer will focus on the theme of the reconciliation that Protestants and Catholics must make as followers of Jesus Christ. We will recall his great prayer for both of our denominations to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This does not negate the important aspects of the doctrinal differences between Catholics and Lutherans, but only serves to further our working towards perfect unity in Christ and between Christians which must begin with acts of love and charity recommended by the Gospel.
Pope Francis in his Homily on the occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation said: “We ask him, ‘Lord, help us by your grace to be more closely united to you and thus, together, to bear a more effective witness of faith, hope and love.’ This is also a moment to thank God for the efforts of our many brothers and sisters from different ecclesial communities who refused to be resigned to division, but instead kept alive the hope of reconciliation among all who believe in the one Lord.” We will say prayers of supplication and give thanks with our Protestant brothers and sisters and as we continue the work of Christian unity in the Diocese of Calgary.
Join us on Wednesdays, March 8 and March 22 at Hope Lutheran, 3527 Boulton Road NW; and on Wednesdays, March 15 and March 29 at St. Luke’s Church, 1566 Northmount Drive NW at 6:00 p.m. for a free “Soup and Bread” supper followed by the prayer service at 7:00 p.m. each of the four evenings.
To mark the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, Lutherans and Catholics in Calgary are about to embark on a year of festivities.
The Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church will hold a joint ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation on October 31, 2016 in Lund and Malmö, Sweden. It will begin with a liturgy in Lund Cathedral and continue with a public event in Malmö Arena that will be open to wider participation.
We are all invited to access the live-stream broadcast of the joint ecumenical service of common prayer led by Pope Francis, LWF President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan, and LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Martin Junge in Lund, Sweden. This event will highlight the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue. See www.lund2016.net for details on when and how to participate on October 31.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be observed from January 18 to 25, 2017. The theme is Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us [2 Corinthians 5:14-20]. A HymnFest hosted by the Lutheran Synod of Alberta and the Territories is scheduled to take place in March, and finally, Reformation Day will be celebrated in October 2017 and be marked by a common prayer service with our local bishops. Further information on all events will be continually updated on the website http://www.500reformation.ca and in upcoming editions of The Carillon. For more information, please contact Deacon Adrian Martens, tel: (403) 218-5528 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2016: The day began with a 3 km walk down the hill to Mount St. Francis. I don’t believe the conversation has changed much over the years from the original pilgrimages to the Holy Land. People talked about their families, about their friends, their health, politics and they talked about the beauty of nature as they walked to the Mount. They also talked about God, about how lucky they were to be healthy enough to walk and to have all of their senses to experience the beauty around them. This was a wonderful way to start off the day. I think St. Francis would have applauded.
The second annual Trails to the Mount was under the canopy of an Alberta blue sky, a mostly sunny day with very few raindrops. The surroundings of nature and animals were present to show how beautiful our environment is with the creatures we share it with. Saint Francis’ life was one of service, and it exemplifies love of all creation and our responsibilities to care for it.
In the spirit of ecumenism, Catholic Bishop Fred Henry and Anglican Archbishop Greg Kerr-Wilson with Britton Mockridge, Susan Campbell and the friars relayed stories and scriptural readings sharing Pope Francis’ commitment to protecting the environment and helping the marginalized no matter how difficult the task. They stressed the ongoing need for compassion, caring and outreach to those who are hurting among us. They encouraged groups such as ours–Mount Saint Francis Friars and the Order of Saint Lazarus–to continue their work together, and as individuals, to make a difference in the world and to join with other Christians with an ecumenical spirit. The music by Carrie Monk and Carrie Stoesz brought scriptural truths to life through singing All Creatures of God and King as well as the chosen prayer of the United Nations a few years ago, The Prayer of Saint Francis. The words of this song put the day into a crystal clear reality for all – we know what we have to do.
The day proceeded with the blessing of the animals. We could see how the people who attended showed love and care to their animals. The reverence they showed was very evident as they approached the friar performing the blessing. Some of the older people said that their animal helps them to exercise and reduces their feelings of isolation. As many Catholic/Christian celebrations are associated with great food and refreshments, Mr. Martin Doyle’s food wagon continued this age old tradition with humour, service and caring.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace... ~ St. Francis
This month Calgary will be hosting a rare and prestigious ecumenical gathering: the annual meeting of the International Dialogue Commission between the Roman Catholic Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We are excited that Calgary was chosen to host this year’s meeting. The Commission is one of several international dialogue groups conducted by the Holy See’s ecumenical department (the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) in conjunction with an ecumenical partner here, the Council for Christian Unity of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Members of the Commission are from Canada, the United States, England, Australia, Puerto Rico and Italy (Rome).
For more than 25 years, Disciples of Christ and Roman Catholics have been in dialogue, looking to the hope of realizing full visible unity in Christ. In that time, they have produced four Agreed Statements exploring various facets of the Christian tradition:
- Catholicity and Apostolicity (1977 - 1982)
- The Church as Communion in Christ (1982 - 1992)
- Receiving and Handing on the Faith: the Mission and Responsibility of the Church (1993 - 2002)
- The Presence of Christ in the Church, with special reference to the Eucharist (2003 - 2009)
Those engaged in the current phase of the dialogue that began in 2013 are exploring the theme, Christians Formed and Transformed by the Eucharist.
In addition to the dialogue meeting times, the Commission hopes to learn about the local Roman Catholic and Disciples of Christ institutions/ministries and to share the work of the Commission with local churches. Please see Diocesan Dates, June 19 and 20, on page 20.