Germany: Catholic Bishop Extols Luther’s Virtues

Source: FSSPX News

The bishop of Osnabrück, in the north of Germany, believes that the Protestant reformer Martin Luther represents a “positive stimulus.” “His way of placing God radically at the center of things is fascinating,” said Mgr. Franz-Josef Bode in an interview given to the Protestant press agency EPD, prior to the service which took place on September 6 at the Lutherkirche in Osnabrück where he delivered a sermon on Luther.
Luther, declared Bishop Bode, quite rightly condemned the failures of the Church and recalled what the roots of the faith really were. The German bishop stated that Luther was a “fascinating character for the two Churches,” and was of the opinion that the reformer was not seeking to divide the Church in propagating his 95 theses in 1517 but that his teaching had been used later to serve other interests.
Bishop Bode pointed out that, thanks to the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church is in a position to understand and approach the ideas of Luther and the esteem he had for the Word of God in a new light. He added that Vatican II has led the Catholic Church to accept for the first time that a co-existence of different forms of faith in Christ is possible.
The 50th anniversary of the Council, in 2015, will take place during the preparations for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017. Bishop Bode declared that he, together with the German Bishops Conference, would make sure that the ecumenical aspects of Vatican II would be highlighted.
However, he concluded, there remain elements of division between the Catholic Church and Luther. These divisions concerned in particular, the concept of the Church, the pastorate and the sacraments. But Bishop Bode reassures us: “The Catholic Church would react today to this kind of provocation differently and in a better manner.”
Meanwhile… the spokesman for the bishop of Fulda, Christof Ohnesorge, has stated that the pilgrimage organized by the Society of St. Pius X on September 5 and 6, as they have done every year since 2004, constituted a new provocation towards the Catholic Church. Mgr. Heinz Josef Algermissen had already said last June that the consecration of the Society’s chapel in Fulda, on the feast of St. Boniface, patron of the town, was a provocation and forbade the faithful of his diocese to attend.
(DICI no 201- 19/09/09- Sources: ENI / Apic / KNA)