- Scotsman.com News - Latest News - Methodists and Catholics mend a historical rift
The issue of justification, simply put, what Christians must do to get to Heaven -- was the central dispute in the Reformation that split western Christianity and plunged Europe into the Thirty Years' War.
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict played a key role in drawing up the Catholic-Lutheran declaration that revoked heresy charges against reformer Martin Luther and said disputes that led to the Reformation over four centuries ago were null and void.
Luther, a German monk who posted his famous 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg in 1517, held people could be saved not by faith and good works, but by faith alone.
Luther was angered by the Catholic Church's teaching that good works could also lead to salvation, a view that was corrupted into the practice of selling indulgences to those seeking absolution for their sins.
The 1999 statement satisfied both Lutherans and Catholics, saying that salvation is achieved through God's grace and this is reflected in the good works a person does.
The signing does not mean that Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches are moving towards any kind of reunification, a step that deep historical divisions make highly unlikely.
Interesting how the author completely discounts the agreement with that last line, something he slightly backs down on in the actual article but not by much. Defining "any kind of reunification" in such an exclusive way is what helped separate us in the first place.