Chancellor Merkel urges German churches to agree on Luther anniversary
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germany’s Protestant and Roman Catholic churches on Monday to stress their common beliefs at ceremonies marking the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.
Although still five years away, the date has already prompted debate between Protestants preparing major celebrations and Catholics who rue the rebellion of the German monk Martin Luther in 1517 as the start of a painful split in western Christianity.
The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the country’s largest association of Protestant churches, wants the Catholics to attend its planned “Luther Jubilee”, and its annual synod in a Baltic resort near Luebeck is debating how to make it possible for them to do so.
Merkel, daughter of a Protestant pastor, made a rare visit to the synod and said that, in a secularized world, Christian churches should stress what united them, rather than their enduring theological differences.
“I’ve learned that even the word ‘jubilee’ used in connection with the Reformation can give rise to discussions,” Merkel said. Catholics attach a special meaning to ‘jubilee years’ and would prefer to call the event a commemoration.
“Especially in a very secular world, we should always stress what is common in the Christian religion,” she said.