From the Times Online:
Pope Benedict XVI is to rehabilitate Martin Luther, arguing that he did not intend to split Christianity but only to purge the Church of corrupt practices.Pope Benedict will issue his findings on Luther (1483-1546) in September after discussing him at his annual seminar of 40 fellow theologians â€” known as the Ratzinger SchÃ¼lerkreis â€” at Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence. According to Vatican insiders the Pope will argue that Luther, who was excommunicated and condemned for heresy, was not a heretic.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, the head of the pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the move would help to promote ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants. It is also designed to counteract the impact of July’s papal statement describing the Protestant and Orthodox faiths as defective and â€œnot proper Churchesâ€.
The move to re-evaluate Luther is part of a drive to soften Pope Benedict’s image as an arch conservative hardliner as he approaches the third anniversary of his election next month. This week it emerged that the Vatican is planning to erect a statue of Galileo, who also faced a heresy trial, to mark the 400th anniversary next year of his discovery of the telescope. (more…)