Germany Urges Churches to Find Common Ground


Germany Urges Churches to Find Common Ground

Increased cooperation is suggesting the possibility of a reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Protestants in Europe.

Last week, Germany openly showed support for increasing ecumenical efforts between Catholicism and Protestant denominations in Europe. recently reported on the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church (alcc) reentering the Roman Catholic Church through the U.S. ordinariate originally created to bring Anglicans back into the Catholic faith. Since then, there has been even more cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran protesters.

German Protestants are busy preparing for the Luther Jubilee in 2017—the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. They would like to make the commemoration extra special by involving the Catholics in the celebration as well. Their ecumenical intentions were made clear when plans were made for a joint Bible study in 2015, as well as the possibility of a reconciliation service, including Catholics and Lutherans, at the quincentennial. According to Germany’s Evangelical Church President Nikolaus Schneider, a joint service would recognize the injuries that both organizations have perpetrated against each other since the split in 1517.

Germany is appearing to show support for the prospect of unity and cooperation between the two churches, according to statements made by Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Especially in a very secular world, we should always stress what is common in the Christian religion,” Merkel stated at this year’s synod in Luebeck, Germany—the very place where the Luther Jubilee will take place. In the same speech, Merkel also called for German foreign policy to be more sensitive to Christian minorities. She asserted that Christianity is “the most persecuted religion worldwide.”

Protestantism and Catholicism each represent about 34 percent of the German population. If the Vatican can find common ground with the Protestants and bring them back under Rome’s influence, over two thirds of the German people would be allegiant to Rome. Germany could soon be majority Catholic.

In the last few years, the Catholic Church has suffered from a negative image, especially in the United States. The loss of converts has not been devastating, but with over 22 million ex-Catholics in the U.S., the Vatican could use some positive press to gain new converts. Mending fences with the Protestants could go a long way in helping its image. Finding “common ground” between the different religious dogmas could do even more to increase its influence in Europe.

Pope Benedict xvi is the driving force behind the reconciliation—and is making sure it is accomplished on Catholic terms. In 2000, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote a letter to all the bishops worldwide establishing that the Protestant churches were not to be referred to as “sisters,” but as daughters of the Catholic Church. Twelve years later, he finished a three-week synod at St. Basil’s Cathedral preaching a message of “new evangelization” on how to stop the tide of those leaving the church, and how to gain new converts.

The Vatican will be a firm proponent of ecumenism, as long as it’s the Protestants doing the compromising. Concerning the proposed cooperation at the 2017 Luther Jubilee, Catholic Bishop Gerhard Feige, the head bishop in charge of Catholic/Protestant relations, indicated that the Catholic Church’s level of cooperation would depend on the nature of the activities planned for the celebration.

The reunification of the Catholic Church and its rebel daughter churches is a key prophecy being fulfilled in this end time. For more prophetic analysis of this trend, read Stephen Flurry’s article “Returning to the Fold.