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Continuing the conversation during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

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The Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, but ecumenical conversations have not subsided.

The conversation continued at Christ the Redeemer Church in Sterling July 31 with the presentation, “500 Years Since Luther: Can Catholics and Lutherans Commemorate Together?” The talk was led by Franciscan Friar of the Atonement Father James Loughran, the director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute in New York, and former parochial vicar at Christ the Redeemer from 1991 to 1994.

He was joined by four interns from the discernment program, At-One-Ment, offered by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, who completed a summer program in Rome.

James Zwilling, of Franklin Square, N.Y., spoke about the history of the division between Catholics and Lutherans. Dillon Smith, of Venus, Texas, spoke on the commonalities between the two religions, while Konner Kloster of St. Louis, Mo., noted the differences. Andrew Tran of Hanford, Calif., discussed this year’s anniversary, and Father Loughran provided closing remarks.

The conversation between Catholics and Lutherans is easier because they have become friendlier over the years, according to Father Loughran. “We can take each other on a great level of trust and that helps a lot,” he said.

But he also identified challenges.

“It is a little harder on some levels because some of our partners in the ecumenical dialogue have taken on social issues that we do not agree with,” he said. “As a result it makes the ecumenical dialogue more difficult when you talk about issues such as homosexual rights and things like that.”

Father Loughran wanted attendees to take away that there is hope for ecumenism. “It is not something we have given up on,” he said. “People see that there is a tremendous energy behind it. People do love the work and want it to succeed.”

Helena Syska, a parishioner of Christ the Redeemer, said she has many discussions with people of different faiths about Catholicism. She sees Martin Luther as the whistleblower of his generation.

Father Loughran told attendees to bear witness to the world that God will bring together that which is divided. “The Good News — can we proclaim it together? Of course we can,” he said. “And for the sake of the world, we have no choice.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017