From the Worldwide Faith News archives

German Lutheran Bishop Criticizes Planned Beatification of Pius IX

Date 06 Sep 2000 10:02:37

MUNICH, Germany/GENEVA, 31 August 2000 (LWI) - The beatification of Pope
Pius IX by Pope John Paul II, planned for 3 September 2000, has been
described by Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria, Johannes Friedrich, as a step
backward for ecumenical relations.

Speaking in his role as "Catholica Beauftragter" or Catholic Relations
Official of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD),
Bishop Friedrich said that Pius IX, who was Pope from 1846 to 1878, had
"condemned freedom of opinion, the press, and religion."  In a statement
dated  August 24, Friedrich said that the planned beatification is a
"denial of the understanding of the papal office as serving the unity of
the church."

At the First Vatican Council in 1870, Pius IX proclaimed the doctrine of
infallibility of the Pope in doctrinal questions of faith and morality and
affirmed the supreme and absolute legal power of the Pope in the church.
These actions caused deep rifts between the Roman Catholic Church and the
Orthodox and Protestant churches.

In contrast, according to Bishop Friedrich, recent events, including the
signing in 1999 of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
by the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican were positive developments
that "have been an encouragement to many."

"Neither the church nor the world needs this beatification," said Bishop

The United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD) unites eight
member churches, namely the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Bavaria,
Brunswick, Thuringia, of Hanover, Mecklenburg, Saxony, Schaumburg-Lippe,
and the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The VELKD was founded on
8 July 1948 and has around eleven million members.

(The LWF is a global communion of 131member churches in 72 countries
representing over 59 million of the world's 63 million Lutherans. Its
highest decision making body is the Assembly, held every six or seven
years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by a 49-member Council which
meets annually, and its Executive Committee. The LWF secretariat is located
in Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the
Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material
presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its
various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the notation
(LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.]

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Lutheran World Information
Assistant Editor, English: Pauline Mumia

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