Martin Luther was a Catholic priest in 1517 when he began the process that became the Protestant Reformation. His “95 Theses” were a list of topics on which he believed the Catholic Church needed to reform.
In observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (Oct. 31, 2017), members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gathered with members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Conference of Bishops for a March 2 prayer service. The occasion celebrated what Catholics and Lutherans hold in common.
Earlier this year, on the international level, Pope Francis signed a joint statement with Bishop Munib Younan, the Lutheran World Federation president. The statement reads, “Recalling the wisdom of the international Lutheran-Catholic dialogue report, ‘From Conflict to Communion,’ we affirm that ‘while the past itself is unalterable, the presence of the past in the present is alterable. So, while the past cannot be changed, we rejoice in the healing of memories we have already seen, and we ask God’s guidance toward a transformed future, renewed in our relations to one another and in our witness to the world.”
In Anchorage Lutheran leaders will meet with Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne on Oct. 29 for prayer and fellowship at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral. The event, titled “Lutheran-Catholic: From Conflict to Communion,” will begin at 2 p.m. with a reception following in the Lunney Center.
The prayer service will be jointly presided over by Archbishop Etienne and Rev. Shelly Wickstrom, Lutheran bishop of the Alaska Synod. Catholics and Lutherans from across Alaska are invited to attend the service, one of many being held jointly between Lutherans and Catholics around the world marking the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The event is an opportunity for the two religious groups to pray together and express common tenants of faith. Such meetings also reaffirm the desire to continue the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, which has been ongoing for the past 50 years to work towards greater reconciliation.