September 15, 2009

Catholic bishop fascinated by Luther’s radical theology

by Sara Levy

A Catholic bishop has said that Martin Luther, the 16th century reformer who instigated the Protestant break-away from Roman Catholicism, offers a “positive challenge” to the Catholic church.

Franz-Josef Bode, bishop of Osnabruck in northern Germany, said he is “fascinated” by “just how radically” Luther puts God at the centre of his theology.

Speaking to German Protestant news agency epd, Bode said Luther was right to denounce the failures of the Catholic Church and to call for a renewal to the roots of faith.

“The focus on Christ, the Bible and the authentic Word – are things that we as the Catholic Church today can only underline,” Bode said.

Bode pointed out that since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s the Catholic Church has begun to engage with Luther’s ideas.

He added that the Second Vatican Council was the first time the Catholic Church acknowledged that there could be other forms of faith in Christ.

Were someone like Luther to challenge the Catholic Church today, the Church would “deal with such a provocation in a different and a better way”, the bishop concluded.

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