Celebrating the Reformation Commemoration in Southern Europe

Many were surprised to learn already in February 2016 that Pope Francis would participate in the opening festivities of the Reformation commemoration year in Lund, Sweden, which took place on October 31. A special interest in the Reformation has been developing in the southern countries of Europe. For the Catholic Church of France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, Lutheranism is a virtually unknown church, as only very tiny Lutheran churches have ever existed in these countries. There is a curiosity about these minorities churches, their origins and also the ecumenical progress that allowed the pope to take this stuff. So it is not altogether surprising that a number of inquiries have been coming to the Strasbourg Institute from these places. Many started via university contacts. The Strasbourg Institute staff has already met several times with the ecumenical institute in Venice; now another colloquium is planned for June 2017 in Salamanca, Spain. Various Institute colleagues will additionally offer lectures at universities in Italy (Prof. Elisabeth Parmentier at Padua, Prof. André Birmelé at Bologna), in Luxembourg, and in France. Individual congregations and dioceses have also issued invitations to speak (Prof. Birmelé has already traveled to Orléans and Tours, and will next visit Dijon, Lyon, and Le Havre). Even Catholic monastic orders have gotten involved and arranged for meetings, such as the French Benedictine nuns in Pradines and Prailles and Benedictine monks at La Pierre-qui-Vire. In addition there are the already long-planned events at the Monasterio di Bose in Italy and in the assorted communities of the Chemin Neuf in Zaragoza, Spain, and the Abbaye des Dombes and Hautecombe Cloister in France. A final note of interest has ben expressed by the Orthodox churches. The staff of the Institute has been invited for a colloquium in Thessaloniki in March 2017 hosted by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.