Ahead of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther and his writings, which include elements of anti-Semitism, Germany’s Lutheran church has now declared it rejects any efforts to convert Jews.
The President of the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany Irmgard Schwaetzer said it is “a further step on the path of contemplation and reorientation in our relationship with Jews.”
The move comes ahead of next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation and follows a declaration last year distancing it from Martin Luther’s statements against Jews.
The Lutheran Church in Germany issued a declaration condemning the church founder’s anti-Semitism and recognizing “the part played by the Reformation tradition in the painful history between Christians and Jews.”
The declaration also lamented the “far-reaching failure of Protestant churches in Germany with regard to the Jewish people” and “the horror at such historical and theological aberrations.”
Next year, Protestant churches will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, which are widely regarded as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.
Many of Luther’s later writings were used by Protestants to legitimize anti-Semitism and discrimination against Jews, and are seen by some as a foundation for the Nazis’ ideology.
In April, The Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) issued a declaration condemning anti-Semitic statements made by Luther.
The Vatican has also declared it does not support official efforts to convert Jews.
Germany’s Central Council of Jews welcomed the church announcement, calling it a long-awaited declaration and saying it recognizes the centuries of suffering caused by forced conversions.
By: World Israel News
AP contributed to this report.