Pope Francis to visit Lund when Catholics and Lutherans commemorate the Reformation

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Pope Francis will visit Lund on 31 October 2016. This historic visit will take place because Catholics and Lutherans will together commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It will be the first papal visit to Sweden since John Paul II was here in 1989.

“I am delighted that the Pope will visit Lund and that the Roman Catholic Church together with the Lutheran World Federation have invited us to take part in this exceptional meeting. It is a step forward in the churches’ work. In a time of major global challenges we have a joint mandate to proclaim the Gospels in words and actions,” says Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, Antje Jackelén.

The meeting in Lund stems from a process of dialogue spanning several decades. A milestone in this process consists of the document From conflict to communion dating from 2013. In this document Lutherans and Catholics express sorrow and regret at the pain that they have caused each other, but also gratitude for the theological insights that both parties have contributed. At the same time, there is an emphasis on the joint responsibility to talk about Christian faith, not least through work for justice and peace.

It is in this spirit that leaders of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, LWF, will meet in Lund this autumn in order to commemorate the Reformation together for the first time ever. During the meeting a symposium will be held and a service of worship will be celebrated with a liturgy that has been drawn up specially for this occasion.

“As I used to live in Lund I am pleased that this important ecumenical meeting will take place there. In the past Lund was a Catholic centre in northern Europe, and at present the ecumenical situation in our part of the world is unique and interesting. I hope that this meeting will make us look forwards so that together we can bear witness to Jesus Christ and his Gospels in our secularised environment,” says Anders Arborelius, Bishop in the Catholic Church in Sweden.

In addition to Pope Francis other participants in the meeting will include Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican; Reverend Martin Junge, General Secretary of the LWF; and Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of the LWF.

There are several reasons why the meeting will take place in Lund: it was where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947, and the federation will therefore celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2017. Lund is also located in “the Lutheran Scandinavia”, which was affected by the Reformation in many ways.

The chosen date, 31 October, is Reformation Day; tradition has it that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on that date in 1517. The meeting in Lund is thereby linked to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which will be commemorated on a large scale in Lutheran churches worldwide in 2017. The meeting also marks the fact that in 2017 it will be 50 years since ecumenical dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics started.

The Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican are inviting the participants to the meeting. The Lutheran World Federation groups 72 million Lutherans from 144 churches, and the Catholic Church has more than 1.2 billion members worldwide. The meeting will be hosted by the Church of Sweden in close cooperation with the Catholic Church in Sweden and the Christian Council of Sweden.

Download and read the report "From Conflict
to Communion Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration
of the Reformation in 2017" 
that develops a basis for an
ecumenical commemoration that stands in contrast to earlier