Cardinal: Francis has been no response to the invitation EKD
Rome (kath.net / idea ) The expectation that Pope Francis is to come to the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 in Germany has been downplayed by the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch. The Pope had given no reply to the invitation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany Council Chairman, President i.R. Nikolaus Schneider (Berlin), said the Swiss Cardinal in an interview with Vatican Radio. In a private audience on 8 April Schneider had invited the head of the Roman Catholic Church, to participate in Wittenberg in the events commemorating the theses of the reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) 31 October 1517. The Vatican sees, among other things, no reason to “celebrate" the Reformation, its following schism and the religious wars of the 16th and 17th Centuries, but wishes only “recollect” it.
Schneider: It's about a Feast for Christ
The ELCG Council stressed that it was not the anniversary of the Reformation to go about celebrating "the birth of the Protestant church." Luther did not want to found a new church, but to reform the Catholic. It would also not hide the dark side of the Reformation and the Reformer. Rather, the anniversary should be designed as a Christian festival that every Christian can celebrate.
Koch: the Vatican is not a contact person for the ELCG
Koch also pointed out to Vatican Radio different responsibilities. The Vatican is not the actual contact person for the ELCG, but the German Bishops' Conference. Lutheranism, by contrast, has a “worldwide presence," said Koch. The Vatican engages in theological conversations especially with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). They had agreed together in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in1999. Koch himself took part last November while participating in the General Synod of the United Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD) Timmendorfer Strand in Luebeck, but not at the subsequent ELCG Synod. The Lutheran Evangelical Church doesn’t understand itself as an autonomous church, but as a community of 20, United and Reformed churches.
Paper completed on Reformation Commemoration
As Koch said in the current interview further in view of discussions between the Catholic and the Lutheran church, the competent International Commission has prepared a document to commemorate 2017th year of the Reformation. It is expressed in the English title "From Conflict to Communion" (From Conflict to Community). The paper is finished, but is to be released only after the German translation is complete. Worldwide, the Roman Catholic Church has about 1.2 billion members. The number of Lutherans is [merely] about 74 million, which includes nearly 71 million to the LWF member churches.
Pope Francis receives EKD Church President Nikolaus Schneider - Pope meets with Francis first Protestant leader (Rome Reports)