Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A Lutheran reacts to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Germany

At the time of Pope Benedict's state visit to Germany, I posted on two of his addresses, that given to the Bundestag and that given to representatives of the Lutheran church: Benedict XVI: A Pope for Europe and Pope Benedict, Martin Luther and non-ecclesial Christianity. I have since recognised a certain humour on the part of Pope Benedict in the former address. In praising the ecological movement, and by implication the Green Party, he was praising a movement a number of whose representatives had chosen to boycott his meeting with the Bundestag!

First Things have posted a response by an American Lutheran pastor to the latter address. The post indicates that reaction among members of the Lutheran church still retained a certain charitable hostility (and this is not the contradiction it appears if you read the post itself) towards the Church of Rome. This is interesting for us to take note of from the Roman side of the Rhine (sorry, rather a mixed-up metaphor there). As I tried to indicate in my post about this address, I perceive Pope Benedict's ecumenical methodology as being one in which the principles of a non-Catholic theology are taken up and assimilated to corresponding principles in a Catholic point of view, with the intention of achieving dialogue between the non-Catholic theology and a Catholic point of view. If the reaction described in the First Things post is fair, this does not appear to have been reciprocated by some on the Lutheran side. One can see in the post's account a negation of the idea of dialogue among "conservative Lutherans" that is analagous to the similar stance taken by "traditionalist Catholics".

The writer of the First Things post, Joshua D Genig, offers his own appreciation of Pope Benedict's visit to Germany:

He loves his homeland, so he makes his third apostolic visit to Germany in six years (the most of any country except Spain). He loves the dignity of the human person, so he once again spent heartrending time with victims of abuse. He loves young people, so even after a Mass in Erfurt and a flight to Freiburg, he stayed awake long enough to exhort the youth of Germany at a prayer vigil to be the light of the world. And he loves his own church enough that he was willing to bid them to do what would seem to us Lutherans to be the unthinkable for Catholics: to learn from Luther.

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