Pope Francis draws criticism over Protestant concessions

Pope Francis has come under fire from traditional Catholics who are growing alarmed that the Vatican is making too many concessions to Protestants – specifically, Lutherans – in the pope’s effort to foster Christian unity.


Traditionalists are crying foul over what they are calling “unprecedented expressions of openness … towards Lutheranism,” from moves as seemingly benign as the Vatican supporting the naming of a square in Rome after Martin Luther, to remarks by the pope late last year in which he seemed to open the door to Lutherans accepting communion in a Catholic church.


The worry and anger seemed to reach boiling point last week when top officials from the Catholic and Lutheran churches released a joint press release describing a “common prayer” that is to be used in services to mark next year’s 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation, the movement that divided the church and was spearheaded by Luther.


The 16th-century monk from Germany, who was eventually ex-communicated from the church, launched the reformation in 1517 when he nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, a document that questioned the Catholic church’s selling of indulgences in exchange for forgiveness of sins.


Rorate Caeli, a traditionalist blog that often publishes scathing critiques of Pope Francis, said the common prayer was dominated by “Protestant material” and “one-sided praise for the reformation” while not accepting any concessions about elements of Catholic history, theology and heritage.


“The reformation and Martin Luther are repeatedly extolled, while the counter-reformation and the popes and saints of the 16th century are passed over in total silence,” the blog said. “The overwhelming emphasis in this service is on what supposedly unites Catholics and Lutherans, while the doctrines that ‘divide’ us – doctrines for which innumerable Catholic martyrs and confessors suffered, bled, fought and died – are left unmentioned and abandoned.”


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