Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A note of reform for Reformation Day

It is often overlooked that in addition to being Halloween (All Hallows Eve, or All Saints Eve), it is also Reformation Day. It was on 31 October 1517 that the Augustinian monk and Bible scholar Martin Luther, with whom I share a patron saint (St. Martin of Tours, whose liturgical memorial falls on my birthday, 11 November- Luther was born on 10 November 1483- this is why he was named Martin) nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg. There is some dispute as to the door of which Church he nailed his document, addressed to the local bishop and entitled Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum, which came to be known simply as "The Ninety-five Theses," but it is typically taken to be the Church of All Saints.

door of All Saints Church Wittenburg, Germany
In July 1520, Pope Leo X answered Luther's disputatio with the papal bull Exsurge Domine (i.e., Arise, Lord). It is no exaggeration to say that, at least in 1517, it was not Luther's intention to divide the Church, but work towards meaningful reform within the Church, which remains ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda until our Lord returns in glory. At least on my view, if the Council of Trent is the counter-Reformation Council, then the Second Vatican Council is the Reformation Council.

Today I read an interview on Zenit with His Eminence, Cardinal Koch, who is head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian unity, in which he discussed the possibility of a Lutheran Ordinariate, along the lines of the various Anglican Ordinariates now being established, like the one for the U.S., The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Towards the end of the interview, Cardinal Koch discusses Vatican II, or rather the proper way of interpreting the council. He refers to the Holy Father's tremendously important speech to the Roman Curia delivered in December of 2005, in which he spoke of a "'hermeneutic of reform', of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us." His Eminence said,
the Pope calls his interpretation of the Council not 'hermeneutics of continuity' but 'hermeneutics of reform.' It is a question of renewal in continuity. This is the difference: the progressives profess a hermeneutics of discontinuity and break. The traditionalists profess a hermeneutics of pure continuity: only that which is already noticeable in the Tradition can be Catholic doctrine, therefore, practically, there cannot be a renewal. Both see the Council equally as a break, even if in a very different way. The Holy Father has questioned this understanding of the conciliar hermeneutics of the break and proposed the hermeneutics of reform, which unites continuity and renewal

1 comment:

  1. The Anglican Ordinariate is brilliant, and a Lutheran one would take this to another level of Christian Unity. The lost and battered sheep are finding refuge and succor.

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