Merkel urges German churches to agree on Luther fest
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
PARIS (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germany's Protestant and Roman Catholic churches on Monday to stress their common beliefs at ceremonies marking the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.
Although still five years away, the date has already prompted debate between Protestants preparing major celebrations and Catholics who rue the rebellion of the German monk Martin Luther in 1517 as the start of a painful split in western Christianity.
They have also begun discussing whether they could hold a joint service of reconciliation in 2017 "that recognizes before God all the injuries both churches inflicted on each other".
Speaking for the Catholic Church, Hamburg Archbishop Werner Thissen told the synod he hoped for an agreement on how to mark the anniversary.
"Times have changed dramatically since Luther," he said, noting that the Catholic Church's modernizing Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 had "learned a lot from Martin Luther".