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The Land Of Luther Is A Silly Place

That darn Pope is such a sourpuss because he does not jettison everything Catholics believe in some naive gesture of ecumenism toward an ecclesial community that probably won't even be around in a hundred years. He will never be appointed that "honorary spokesman" for Christianity if he keeps this up.

I swear, I laughed out loud when I read this article. I sincerely hope that this is just bad reporting and that Lutheran in Germany aren't this dumb.

PARIS - Pope Benedict will honour the 16th century Protestant reformer Martin Luther on his state visit to Germany next month, but Roman Catholic officials are warning Lutherans not to expect breakthroughs on issues dividing them.

During the Sept 22-25 visit, the German-born pontiff plans to stress ecumenical co-operation, meet Protestant leaders and tour a monastery in Erfurt where Luther once worked and prayed. He will also address the German parliament in Berlin.

The visit has prompted calls from Protestants for him to allow joint communion services and grant their churches full recognition. The tone is mostly positive — one theologian even suggested making him "honorary spokesman" for all Christianity.

But senior Catholic clerics have begun warning Protestants not to get their hopes up too much.

"Hopes about this visit have gone wild," Rev. Hans Langendoerfer, secretary of the German Bishops Conference, said in Monday's edition of the weekly magazine Focus.

"There's talk Pope Benedict could grant the Protestants a new status or could just say 'OK, let's completely change those rules about communion services. It doesn't work that way."

Catholic Bishop Joachim Wanke of Erfurt said last week that Benedict's meeting there with Protestant leaders in the St Augustine Monastery could foster closer ties, but also ruled out any breakthroughs on basic differences.
It is just a piece of bread after all, what is the big whoop? Right?

Ugh. Since the author of this silly piece does not directly quote anyone who holds these silly hopes and dreams, I hope that he just made them up or at least exaggerated. If not, Luther must be writhing in pain in a purgatory that doesn't exist (if he is lucky) for listening to the silliness that passes for Lutheranism these days.

All that said, it must break the Pope's heart to know that he will not be appointed honorary spokesman for Christianity. Guess he will just keep having to cling to those keys.

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Blackrep said...

When you "honor" a man responsible for a major rift in Christianity, you invite just this sort of foolishness.

Mack said...

Layers of unintentional humor in the original writer's piece. "Honorary spokesman" indeed. Loud "harrumph."

Anthony S. Layne said...

"It is just a piece of bread after all, what is the big whoop? Right?"

Remember, we're talking about Lutherans. It's only a piece of bread except during Communion, when Christ is "within, around and under the elements" (whatever that means). Then, afterward, it becomes just a piece of bread ... or, rather, crumbs to be DirtDeviled off the carpet.

Giovanni A. Cattaneo said...

This would indeed bother a certain Martin Luther's sensibilities if he wasn't too busy screaming in soul crushing agony in a very warm corner in Hell.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I find it hard to take a critique about "the silliness in Lutheranism these days" seriously, given what's happening in the Church today: constant backbiting (over Voris and Corapi), conflicts over liturgy, clericalism and sexual abuse....not to mention the arrogance and fundamental sense of entitlement that have marked Catholics view of their own faith for centuries.

Glass. Houses. Stones. Rinse and repeat.

Anonymous said...

I'm not srprised by the way the liberalized Lutherans are behaving; what I don't get is why the Pope wants to honor Luther. Luther called the Papacy "very anti-Christ". IMHO, Pope Benedict ought to demand a long overdue apology from the Lutherans for this blasphemous insult before any kissing up is done. Scotju

Warren said...

Luther's (diabolical) miracle: the doctrine of sola scriptura, i.e., the multiplication of popes and fissures.

The old ecumenism is fading. Witness the new ecumenism of Pope Benedict: e.g., the Anglican ordinariates forming in various countries.

The modus operandi of the new ecumenism is becoming clearer as every manmade sect crumbles into oblivion, which is the certain end of any protestant house built on Reformation sand. The lost are seeking and finding the Apostolic Faith lived and taught uncompromisingly by the Catholic Church.

We only need to be ready to give witness, to propose the truth in charity, and God will bring our separated brethren home to the Church.

Anonymous said...

@Blackrep: The article CLAIMS that Pope Benedict XVI is about to "honour" Luther. What Pope Benendict XVI intends has not been made known to the public. The writer is second-guessing the Pope. If the writer was any good he would have access to the Pope.

Anonymous said...

@Warren: Luther's doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" is not in the bible. Therefore, sola scriptura cannot be fundamental to the faith.

Therese Z said...

Let's give the Lutherans some credit, at least the Lutherans I know - they are very reverent during communion, more so than other Protestants I know.

Anonymous said...

My take away from the article was that they are looking for acknowledgement -> from the Pope! It gives me great hope that, as he helped the Anglicans, the Holy Father will help bring more and more Protestants back home.

Richard A said...

Indeed. Who would name him "honorary spokesman" for Christianity? He's already "Vicar of Christ" on earth to 80% of Christianity.

Jacqueline Y. said...

From the article: "I'd be very happy if the pope...recognized Protestant churches as proper churches" said Ilse Junkermann, the female Protestant bishop of Erfurt who will host Benedict's meeting with Protestant leaders at Luther's old monastery. [Elipsis in quote is in the article.]

Makes me wonder if she doesn't understand that Apostolic Succession is missing from her ecclesial community, because Luther jetissoned it, and her pretended ordination would have cancelled it anyway. She probably does understand the ecclesiology behind Catholic teaching, and simply rejects it. Let us pray that Papa Benedict's historic visit will bear true ecumenical fruit in the long run.

Jacqueline Y. said...

I noticed that the author of the Reuters article used the phrase "ecclesiastical communities" instead or "eccelsial communities". It would be nice if the MSM would get the terminology right. I also noticed that the theologian quoted at the end used the term "honorary leader of Christianity". Perhaps the slight downgrade to "honorary spokesman" is the journalist's spin? Not that it makes much difference.

Jacqueline Y. said...

After rereading the last paragraph of the article, I can see that the term "honorary spokesman" is a pretty astute summation by the Reuters writer. Thanks for pointing us to this interesting article, Rich.

Tom Heneghan said...

Sorry, the links in my comment (pasted in from Word) did not show up. The article is at this URL -- http://www.christundwelt.de/themen/detail/artikel/bitte-sprechen-sie-fuer-alle/

A bio of Reinhard Frieling is at this URL -- http://www.ki-bensheim.de/konfessionskundliches-institut/wir-ueber-uns/geschichte/reinhard-frieling.html

Anonymous said...

Using a misleading lead sentence is the author's doing to get people to read the article, because "Pope talking with Lutherans... just doesn't have the same eye-grabbing nuance, does it. Theresa Henderson

Tom Heneghan said...

My original comment on this post seems to have been rejected because it had HTML links in the Word file I used. Here it is without the links. I gave the URLs in my comment above, posted at 4:38 PM.

Thank you for your interest in the article quoted above. When I wrote it, I thought the idea of Lutherans declaring Pope Benedict the “honorary head of Christianity” was so unlikely that it didn’t deserve more than a passing mention. It has been brought to my attention that you ran this blog post suggesting the article is a “silly piece” and I may have just made it all up. No, I didn’t. This is for real.
This idea comes from an op-ed article entitled “Please Speak for Everybody!” that appeared in the respected German Christian weekly Christ und Welt two weeks ago. It was written by Reinhard Frieling, a retired professor of ecumenical theology at Marburg University in Germany and former head of the ecumenical studies institute (Konfessionskundliches Institut des Evangelischen Bundes) of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD – the national association of Protestant churches in Germany).
The operative quotes say: “The dream of the community of all Christians can become real if Protestants and Orthodox offer the pope the role of an honorary head of Christianity. But isn’t the idea of the pope as the top Christian too much for Protestant Christians? Not necessarily. The pope stands at the head of the largest church, which includes almost half of the 2.2 Christians around the world. In this view, he can and should play a charismatic leading role. In unusual situations, the pope can speak in the name of all Christianity in consultation with the leaders of other churches. ”
Was this worth quoting in the article? I don’t think so. It’s no more convincing with all the above information than with the few words I thought it deserved. The idea may be silly, but the article is not.
Tom Heneghan
Religion Editor, Reuters

Deacon Don said...

I did not 'laugh out loud' when I followed a link and read this blog. I shook my head sadly that some Catholics seem to adopt this type of adolescent sarcasm so easily. To mock those who may hold different views or aspire to things you may find naive shames you, not them. I pray that you will reflect more and maybe pray a little before rushing to the keyboard.

Tom Heneghan said...

Theresa Henderson, why do you say the lead sentence is misleading? Fr. Hans Langendoerfer, the secretary of the German Bishops Conference, said that he would do this. This is backed up further down, where the article says:

Langendoerfer said Benedict would honour Luther's contributions to Christianity such as his emphasis on the Bible and promotion of popular piety.

"In Erfurt, Benedict will aim to get further away from the idea that Protestants are first of all dissenters," he said. "This broad view of Christian history could be very fruitful as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017."

The exact quote from Langendoerfer in his interview in Focus on Monday was: "Pope Benedict will honor the role of Martin Luther and that of the Reformation. The emphasis on Holy Scripture and popular piety are important concerns that the Catholic Church shares with it." The "it" there refers to the Reformation.

Anonymous said...

"This would indeed bother a certain Martin Luther's sensibilities if he wasn't too busy screaming in soul crushing agony in a very warm corner in Hell." Yes, with a significant number of past popes. I am a Catholic and given that we live in a glass house, it is not wise to throw stones.

The Watcher said...

As a Lutheran, I must say that it was enlightening reading some of the comments to this post.

Yes, the Lutheran Church has it's problems...as does the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church, and every other denomination of Christianity on the planet.

And yes, we disagree on points of doctrine.

I would hope that the negative comments - as Deacon Don called them, the 'adolescent sarcasm' - aren't the majority opinion of Roman Catholics worldwide; otherwise, why in the world should ANY non-Roman Catholic Christian denomination even want to extend a hand in a gesture of friendship to the Roman Catholic Church?

Erika Evans said...

I'm a Lutheran, and I don't care for the snide, chauvinistic attitudes on display in some of these comments.

I have never once heard anyone in any Lutheran circles speak of the Roman Catholic Church in any way other than respectfully; we generally have enough class to refrain from making criticisms of the faith practices of others that we may or may not understand. It would be nice if the favor would be returned.

Michaelangelo said...


As Catholics we need to learn to be humble and acknowledge the fact that Luther had some legitimate grievances. I think that's all the Pope is trying to point out. In the same manner, Lutherans should also be humble and admit that some of the things Luther said, did and wrote are to a certain extent no kosher. I'm a student that's recently written several papers on Luther and his theology, and i have to admit that at times I was frightened to read some of the things he wrote and think that this man is an honored Christian. But, we must not think with the mind of man, but try to see it in a charitable sense. Pope Benny is, in my opinion trying to take the charitable road. If you've read his Jesus of Nazareth vol. 3, you would understand that Ben XVI is a man that gives people the benefit of the doubt. This may be naive (just look at how nice he is with the Neocatechumenal way), but I think that he's just trying to be charitable, like Christ would be. We all know Luther's errors. We all know his failures. But they don't fully define him.

We need to stop bashing the Lutherans. They are our friends. They may be more liberal, but that is exactly why we should extend the hand of friendship to them. Let's face it, who would you rather hang out with; a Lutheran or the Hill Song crowd? At least the Lutheran won't call your relationship with Jesus merely a "religion."

Anonymous said...

it's not like a Pope ever did something REALLY ecumenschical, like kiss a Koran or something.

Laura said...

Honor Luther for what exactly? leading thousands of souls away from the One Church? That IS crazy as are the expectations mentioned in the article.

Anonymous said...

@Michaelangelo: "Pope Benny"? "Ben XVI"? Civility is demanded and due. Who gave you the intimacy of such cutesy. Only Pope Benedict XVI can and may, if he wishes to, give anyone permission to use his name.
Mary De Voe

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"it's not like a Pope ever did something REALLY ecumenschical, like kiss a Koran or something. "
Pope Benedict XVI, as the Vicar of Christ on earth prays for every soul with every breath he takes in communion with the saints in heaven, the just on earth and the suffering souls in purgatory. Do the Luthans believe in the doctrine of purgatory? As the Vicar of Christ on earth, Pope Benedict cannot kiss a Koran because the Koran preaches a God without a son to love and to love him, a god who may not be able to accept love. The Blessed Trinity is God the Father, Who loves His Son and God the Son, Who loves His Father.
Mary De Voe

Anonymous said...

@Michaelangelo "We need to stop bashing the Lutherans." There is a difference between Lutherans and Luther. The Pope may be trying to heal the wounds left in the church by error by the finite mind of Luther. The devil offered to Adam and Eve a change in their human nature to become infinite "like God", what could not be even when Adam and Eve ate the apple. Infinity of Being only God has and something the devil did not have to give as Lucifer was a creature with a finite beginning. So finite minds make mistakes and charity demands that human beings love one another as God has loved us.
Mary De Voe

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Pope Benedict cannot kiss a Koran because the Koran preaches a God without a son to love and to love him, a god who may not be able to accept love.

So, Mary, why did John Paul II do it? I'm not saying that Benedict should; in fact, I'm glad he hasn't. I'm deploring the double-standard inherent in your comment.

Pope Benedict XVI, as the Vicar of Christ on earth prays for every soul with every breath he takes in communion with the saints in heaven, the just on earth and the suffering souls in purgatory,

You know this how, exactly? I'm not saying that isn't what he should be doing, but whether he does it is another question.

Honor Luther for what exactly? leading thousands of souls away from the One Church?

First, Laura, Luther fought against the corruption of Tetzel's practice. Second, Luther attempted to re-establish faith as a priority among Catholics. Third, the "One Church" (as are other churches) is leading people away from Christ by its collective arrogance, sense of entitlement, and love of power, money and prestige. Not for nothing did St. John Chrysostom say, "The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops."

I shook my head sadly that some Catholics seem to adopt this type of adolescent sarcasm so easily.

Deacon Don, I don't know what the atmosphere on Protestant blogs is like but I can tell you from personal experience that the "adolescent sarcasm" you criticize is par for the course on Catholic blogs. So is the kind of excessive pride in group loyalty that you've seen here. Catholics mistakenly equate such groupthink with salvation; therefore, they render Jesus' blood of no account.

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