From .......... HUMAN QUEST

Sept - Oct 1996

page 21

Plans by Pope John Paul II to take an historic step to improve relations with Protestant churches during his visit to Germany were thwarted by the country's Roman Catholic bishops, according to a German news magazine.

The pope originally wanted to visit one of the historic sites of the Lutheran Reformation Wartburg castle, where Luther translated the New Testament into German, according to the magazine Focus. There, the pope intended to announce the cancellation of Luther's excommunication from the [Roman] Catholic Church. The pardon by the pope would have been particularly appropriate, it added, since 1996 is the 450th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther.

But the plans were dropped after opposition by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and by three of Germany's senior [Roman] Catholic bishops.

Luther was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church in 1521 after refusing to retract his teachings which the church judged to be heretical. [ENI]


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