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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican's chief doctrinal watchdog is saying Catholics have "no reason" to honor the Protestant Reformation.
In a wide-ranging, book-length interview recently published by the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, a Madrid-based publishing house, Cdl. Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), speaks on a number of subjects — including the upcoming commemoration in Sweden of the 15th-century Protestant Reformation.
The matter is a timely one for Catholics, as Pope Francis will travel to Sweden in October to attend a joint ecumenical service kicking off the year recalling the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Revolt. Others attending will include leaders from the Lutheran World Federation as well as representatives of various Christian communities. The meeting will take place October 31 in Lund, where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947.
Meant not only to commemorate the Reformation, the Pope's presence will also highlight the advances in dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans over the past century.
Strictly speaking," Cdl. Müller said in his interview, "we Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered the beginning of the Reformation that would lead to the rupture of Western Christianity."
If we are convinced that divine revelation is preserved whole and unchanged through Scripture and Tradition, in the doctrine of the Faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchical constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there exist sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.
Protestant communities see things differently, he observed. "The Protestant reformers arrived at the conclusion, 500 years ago, that some Church hierarchs were not only morally corrupt, but had also distorted the Gospel and, as a result, had blocked the path of salvation for believers toward Jesus Christ."
"To justify the separation," he went on, "they accused the pope, the presumed head of this system, of being the Antichrist."
Precisely those who until now have shown no respect for the doctrine of the Church are using an isolated phrase from the Holy Father, "Who am I to judge?" taken out of context, to present distorted ideas on sexual morality, reinforcing them with a presumed interpretation of the "authentic" thought of the pope in this regard.
He also made clear that female ordination to the priesthood is impossible, as "this is a matter that has already been decided."
Finally, he defended clerical celibacy as "a special gift from God through which the sacred ministers can more easily unite themselves with Christ with an undivided heart."
Read the full interview in English here.