VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will take part in an ecumenical ceremony in Lund, Sweden, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Vatican announced Monday.
The event “will highlight the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue,” according to a joint press release by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Lutheran Federation.
The Pope will lead the Oct. 31 commemorations alongside the World Lutheran Federation’s president, Bishop Munib Younan, and general secretary, Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm. October’s ecumenical ceremony will kick off the fifth centenary commemorations of the Reformation, which will take place in 2017.
The event will include common prayer, according to the recently published “Common Prayer,” a jointly written Catholic and Lutheran liturgical guide prepared for the Reformation anniversary commemorations.
“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,” said Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity’s president, Cardinal Kurt Koch, in remarks published by the joint press statement.
Junge said the Lutheran federation “is approaching the Reformation anniversary in a spirit of ecumenical accountability,” according to the joint press release.
“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.”
Sweden, where the event will take place, was among the nations in which Catholics experienced oppression during the enforcement of changes brought about by the Reformation.
“The ecumenical situation in our part of the world is unique and interesting,” says Anders Arborelius, bishop of the Catholic Church in Sweden.
“I hope that this meeting will help us look to the future so that we can be witnesses of Jesus Christ and his Gospel in our secularized world.”
“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,” said Church of Sweden Archbishop Antje Jackelén, according to the statement.
“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.”