Florence, Italy 20-22 February 2017 – The Reformation was not over in the 16th century when the reformers passed away, nor did it end in 1999 when the Catholic church and the Lutheran Church signed the “Agreement on Justification,” nor did it end in 2016 when Bishop Younan and Pope Francis signed the Joint Statement in Lund, Sweden agreeing to remain “rooted in Christ and witnessing to him, renewing our determination to be faithful heralds of God’s boundless love for all humanity.”
On 20-22 February in Florence, Italy at The Center of Ecumenism, sponsored by the John Paul II Foundation with more than 50 scholars in attendance with over 25 presenting lectures and discussing what the 1517 Reformation meant then and means now in a conference titled, “Re-Reading the Reformation: Proofreading theological, historical, legal, art and literature of the sixteenth century Reformation.”
Catholic Universities and Seminaries promoting the symposium were from Brazil, Italy, Greece, Romania, and Spain.
Bishop Dr. Munib Younan President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) presented a lecturer as did the Cardinal Archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Betori. Other Catholic clergy initiated papers as a reflection on the Reformation. The Dean of the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Italy, Dean Heiner A. BLUDAU and pastor Italo Pons of the Waldensian Church in Italy Board were among the Protestant attendees. The Lutheran Evangelical Church in Italy is a LWF member church. The Waldensian Churches are members of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Calling their lectures intervention, each scholar and theologian presented an intervention on the theological and doctrinal aspects of the Reformation. The symposium was asked to follow four themes as a means to understanding the Reformation: tell, listen, see, and rethink the Reformation.
In Bishop Younan’s address to the symposium, he emphasized the doctrine of justification by faith, and that it is by this faith through the gift of the Holy Spirit that the Reformation is global, ecumenical and always reforming — ecclesia semper reformanda.
He also explained two documents that are the framework for Lund and future unity, “From Conflict to Communion” published jointly by the LWF and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and “The Joint Declaration on Justification by Faith” published in 1999 after decades of dialogue leading to the joint-signed statement in Lund that was borne out of these scholarships.
“We have committed to act together in the spirit of our one baptism, with one mission, for the sake of our neighbors,” Bishop Younan wrote.
Since the commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and Joint-Common Prayer in Lund, Sweden, co-presided by Pope Francis, Bishop Younan, and The Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary of LWF, the desire for ecumenical cooperation continues to move throughout both churches, moving beyond pontifical, bishopric and scholarly undertakings, and has become rooted in the hearts and minds of the grassroots.
This dedication to continuing the ecumenical movement has sprung up around the world.
Bishop Younan said we have seen a “thirst for unity at the grassroots” recounting the bountiful attendance of its two joint services with the Latin Catholic Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Amman, Jordan and Bethlehem, Palestine.
Another example has resurfaced in Lund at St. Thomas Catholic Church and Lund Cathedral, where the Common Prayer of the Joint Commemoration took place. The two churches will hold joint evening prayers (vespers) through the summer.
In December 2016, a joint service was co-hosted in France by two LWF communing member churches and the Archdiocese of Strasbourg.
Of the symposium in Italy, Bishop Younan said, “We will give the Holy Spirit time to work in us.”