Pope celebrates Reformation

At the start of the celebrations that will mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation next year, Pope Francis will travel to the largely Lutheran Sweden today for joint prayer of Catholics and Protestants. Commentators praise the pope for extolling Martin Luther's achievements for all Christians, and for downplaying inter-confessional fault lines.

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Trouw (NL) /

A wonderful sign of ecumenism

The Reformation is worthy of being jointly celebrated by Catholics and Protestants, Trouw stresses:

“It is sad that the Reformation led to the division of the faithful. But it would be pitiful if we left it at that. Because the liberation that Luther's thinking brought for the beliefs of many people should not be underrated. … Pope Francis will say a joint prayer with the leaders of the Lutheran World Federation in the Swedish city of Lund. This is a wonderful and important ecumenical step. Ever since he took office Francis has demonstrated that he is an ecumenical pope. The fact that he has addressed Protestants far more than any of his predecessors did is commendable and necessary. … At the institutional level the pope has not deviated from his predecessors' course. … But Francis has made it very clear: we Christians are united.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Pope honours Luther's legacy

The visit is a small sensation, Jutarnji list writes in delight:

“We've gradually become used to the ecumenical movement - above all when it takes place with fingers crossed behind the back on the institutional level, where religion is not only an ideological instrument but also a lever of the state and its political agenda. Pope Francis does things differently. With his decision to travel to the reformation country Sweden at the start of the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation next year, he is sending a clear message. 'I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken', the pope said in June and reiterated last week in the Vatican. Now he is following his words with deeds.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Sweden's church moving closer to Rome

The Church of Sweden was a state church until 2000, and paved the way for gay marriage. But despite this major difference the pope is coming to Sweden, Svenska Dagbladet writes in delight:

“Up until 1951 Catholics were not allowed to work in schools or in the care sector, but since then much has changed. The former state church is moving closer to the Catholic Church in certain respects. Icons and statues of the Virgin Mary are making a comeback in rooms dedicated to religion. At the same time, however, the Swedish church has taken a different course on marriage than large sections of the global Christian community. Five hundred years after the Reformation the conditions for relations between the Church of Sweden and Rome are both better and worse than ever before. But it is very worthwhile to focus on the things one has in common. … Even non-believers can agree with that.”