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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Leaders to plan Reformation anniversary

ELCA presiding bishop and other LWF leaders meet the pope

A private audience with Pope Benedict XVI launched plans for 2017—the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which traditionally began Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Ishmael Noko, Lutheran World Federation general secretary, said it’s important for Lutherans and Roman Catholics to prepare for the anniversary together “so we are not commemorating that we became Lutherans, but we are commemorating that through the reformers the church was constantly renewed.”

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, in his role as LWF president, headed a Lutheran delegation to the papal residence Nov. 7 in Vatican City. He read Luther’s 62nd thesis: “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

Hanson emphasized that Lutherans and Catholics proclaim the same gospel of Jesus Christ. He pointed to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which the LWF and the Vatican signed in 1999, as an example of consensus that may be possible on other topics.


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