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Remembering the event that brought Europe to its knees

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP pictured with Lutheran Bishop, Bishop Mark Lieschke, and Bishop Peter Elliott, both keynote speakers at the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Commemoration in Sydney on 11 October. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The Reformation has been remembered for the seismic series of events and ideas that is was at a special commemorative conference in Sydney.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP opened the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Commemoration and Inter-Religious Prayer Gathering with warm introductory remarks to the more than 100 Lutheran, Anglican, Jewish and Catholic attendees.

Eminent speakers gave their thoughts and analyses about the Reformation’s pivotal figure, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk of the 16th century who broke from Rome after railing against corruption and what he saw as false teaching.

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Participants chat over morning tea. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Speakers included the Catholic liturgist and ecumenist, Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne; the NSW Lutheran Bishop, Bishop Mark Lieschke; the Rector of St James’ Anglican Church (Sydney), Rev Andrew Sempell; and the Chief Rabbi of The Great Synagogue, Sydney, Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton.

“There is much from those times of which none of us is proud,” Archbishop Fisher said.

“Yet here we are, 500 years after the Reformation began, recognising our differences while celebrating our much greater common ground in Christ and humanity.”

Bishop Peter Elliott gave a wide-ranging account of Luther’s life and times, saying that his writings and actions could only be understood in light of the ecclesial, economic, social, technological and political realities of the period.

PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Bishop Lieschke was similarly open and conciliatory in his remarks, speaking about Luther’s contribution to the Christian understanding of the Gospel, while also describing the 500th anniversary as a “commemoration” – not a “celebration” – of the events of the Reformation.

The conference concluded with an inter-religious prayer gathering in St Mary’s Cathedral, when Archbishop Fisher delivered his principal address, ‘The Reformation and Its Relevance to Religion and Society Today’. (Stay tuned for The Catholic Weekly’s report.)

Jeremy Spinak, the President of the Jewish Board of Deputies, concluded the gathering with a ‘Prayer for the Restoration of God’s Favour’.

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