Lund Catholic and Lutheran church leaders anticipate historic commemoration of the Reformation

Bishop Johan Tyrberg (photo: Camilla Lindskog), Rev. Lena Sjöstrand, Father Johan Lindén. Photos: Maria Lundström
Bishop Johan Tyrberg (photo: Camilla Lindskog), Rev. Lena Sjöstrand, Father Johan Lindén. Photos: Maria Lundström

Hope for renewed ecumenical initiatives

(LWI) –A historic Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will draw international attention on 31 October to the medieval city of Lund, with its magnificent cathedral and its thousands of students.

Global history also makes local history. It will be the first time in living memory that a prayer service   organized jointly by Catholics and Lutherans at the global level is being held in the Cathedral in Lund. For local Lutheran and Catholic leaders, the thousands of practical details needed to prepare for the event do not diminish the personal and potential local impact on the churches.

“It's been a long-standing dream of mine that different traditions in the churches can show a greater respect for one another. This meeting is therefore a dream come true,” says Johan Tyrberg, Lutheran Bishop of the Diocese of Lund since 2014. 

“It's all about ending a conflict that has lasted for 500 years,” Tyrberg continues. “The last 50 years we have been discussing how to make peace. It is in this spirit that the leaders of the Catholic and the Lutheran Church are meeting in Lund. It is an important step and part of the process of reconciling with the past and moving forward together.”

A common heritage and history

Father Johan Lindén of St. Thomas Aquinas Church and parish in Lund, says he reacted to the news that the Pope was coming with joy.

“The joint commemoration will offer an opportunity to grow in the understanding of the reformation, to understand what happened then and what the consequences are today. We share a common heritage and history,” he says.

The hope is that future generations can reap what we have sowed and that we will see renewed initiatives, a deeper understanding and more respect for the differences in our traditions.
Father Johan Lindén, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Lund, Sweden

As one of the two local Catholic coordinators, Lindén notes, “It is also mutual opportunity to repent, to convert ourselves and ask for forgiveness. The mutual and clear exchange of forgiveness is what the whole event implies and signals. What we have seen in the past few years is that Pope Francis is putting a lot of effort into the ecumenical dialogue with other Christian churches and denominations. The [quest] for unity is very apparent in his pontificate. This is close to Pope Francis’ heart.”

Connecting liturgy with society

Rev. Lena Sjöstrand, chaplain of the Cathedral, has been involved in practical preparations, from cleaning the cathedral to rehearsing with the musicians and young people who will be participating in the service. But as someone whose focus is on “finding ways of connecting liturgy with society,” she acknowledges that “It’s fantastic to be on the staff at the cathedral at this moment in time.”

“Granted, it’s hard work but also a great opportunity to lift the issues of peace, climate change and the refugee situation from the point of view of being a church in this day and age,” Sjöstrand states. “It's valuable that we have this opportunity to manifest the will to work for reconciliation. It's a good sign that we can do this together.”

On the local level, Sjöstrand hopes that “we deepen our relationship in preparing for this event and that we continue to work together with the Saint Thomas of Aquinas parish in Lund. We have already talked about praying together on a more regular basis.”

Hope for renewed initiatives

Lindén also notes that on the local level, “the plan is to twice a month celebrate vespers together, that will alternate between the Cathedral and our parish church.”

But, he acknowledges, “Unity and ecumenism is hard work. As Catholics, we work in long time spans. The hope is that future generations can reap what we have sowed and that we will see renewed initiatives, a deeper understanding and more respect for the differences in our traditions.”

For Tyrberg, the historical significance of the event can have a long-term impact: “This is the first time ever that something like this takes place in Lund, let alone the first time ever in history. This is what students will read about in their history books in the years to come.”

From this moment in history, Tyrberg states, “I hope that the relations improve and that this will result in a wider understanding of ecumenism in our region.”

 

All quotes taken from interviews conducted in Lund by Maria Lundström, Church of Sweden.

 

More about the Joint Commemoration

LWF News

16 September 2019
GENEVA
7 March 2017
CHICAGO, United States/GENEVA