A selection of news relevant to EKD and of press releases of EKD's partner churches and church bodies. News used with permission from Ecumenical News International and other agencies.

Evangelical Church Seeks Encounter with the Pope in Erfurt

February 10, 2011

Hanover/Bonn (epd). On the occasion of the planned papal visit to Erfurt, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) hopes for a meeting between Protestant church representatives and the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church as well as a joint worship celebration. From an ecumenical point of view especially, it would be "interesting and productive," to discuss the significance of the Reformation from the Protestant and Catholic perspectives, wrote EKD Council chair Nikolaus Schneider in a letter to Benedict XVI that was made public on Thursday.

The Pope will be making his very first official visit to Germany from 22 to 25 September.

Last Thursday the Vatican travel secretary Alberto Gasbarri ended a five-day trip to Germany to prepare for Benedict XVI's German visit. During his stay, Gasbarri toured possible venues in the archdioceses of Berlin and Freiburg, as well as the diocese of Erfurt, according to reports from the German Bishops' Conference in Bonn.

With a view to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, EKD Council chair Schneider expressed his "sincere wish," to discuss ecumenical steps forward that in the context of the Reformation quincentenary would constitute a unique event. As the venue for this encounter with the Pope, Schneider suggested the former Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, which reflects in a particularly appropriate manner the turbulent ecumenical history of Germany. The monastery, dedicated to the Church Father Augustine, is a place that had great significance for the young monk Martin Luther 500 years ago. Today it is a spiritual hub for Protestant life in the Thuringian capital city and the entire region, Schneider added.

At his audience with German Lutherans in late January, the Pope cited the Reformation quincenternary as an opportunity for Lutherans and Catholics to "join in a worldwide ecumenical commemoration." An important space must be reserved for "requesting forgiveness for the injustices done to one another and for the guilt of division."

The Council chair considers the papal visit "an exceptional ecumenical event." The Pope's most recent statements concerning the divine Word, in particular, opened the possibility of a common service of worship, Schreiber wrote. The Pope could deliver the homily at such a service. "The importance of the preaching of the Word of God for the spiritual life and theological reflection of all Christians has already for a long time been an ecumenical commonality that cannot be emphasized enough," the representative of around 25 million Protestants in Germany indicated.

10 February 2011



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