EKD Press Releases

EKD leaders to meet Pope Francis

January 16, 2017

Visit by high-ranking EKD delegation to Rome on 5-6 February in Rome. Cardinal Marx will attend private audience. Bedford-Strohm: "Ecumenism of heart-felt appreciation"

The Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany are continuing to put down ecumenical markers in the early part of the 500th Reformation anniversary year. At a festive service to launch the celebrations on 31 October 2016, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) awarded the Martin Luther Medal to Karl Cardinal Lehman, for the first time to a Catholic dignitary.  On the very same day, Pope Francis had - on the invitation of the Lutheran World Foundation - participated in a service to start the quincentennial commemoration in Lund, Sweden.

Now a high-ranking Protestant delegation is to travel from Germany to Rome to meet Pope Francis on 6 February. The Chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Reinhard Cardinal Marx, will also attend the private audience.

Bavarian Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), notes: "After Lund, our meeting with Pope Francis will be a further milestone on the way to an ecumenical Reformation anniversary in 2017. In a country which brought forth the separations of the Reformation period, we today have relations of heart-felt, mutual appreciation. This is the spirit we are taking to Rome." At the meeting with Pope Francis, says Bedford-Strohm, the church leaders wish to underline that the two largest churches in Germany intend to assume a special responsibility for the ongoing ecumenical journey.

The EKD delegation will comprise: Council chair Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, deputy Council chair Praeses Annette Kurschus, EKD synod president Irmgard Schwaetzer and church president Christian Schad, chair of the contact group. Other delegates: EKD Council members Andreas Barner, Michael Diener, Bishop Markus Dröge, Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt, church president Volker Jung, OKR Dieter Kaufmann.

The Healing of Memories process is one of the initiatives jointly initiated by the EKD and the German Bishops' Conference as part of the Christusfest to commemorate the Reformation in 2017. The aim of this process is that Protestants and Catholics together look closely at the separations between their churches and the sufferings they caused, and ask God and one another for forgiveness for failure on all sides.

In a joint statement in September 2016, Bedford-Strohm and Cardinal Marx announced: "It is part of our process of reconciliation that we continue to deal honestly with open questions and press for them to be cleared up. In our eyes, it is an outstanding moment of our fellowship after centuries of mutual separation to mark a Reformation anniversary with this readiness for forgiveness and a new start."

If you have any questions about the programme or media accompaniment of the EKD delegation on its visit to Rome, the EKD Press Office is at your disposal

Hanover, 16 January 2017
EKD Press Office



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