On October 31st 1517, an obscure Augustinian monk had no idea that what he was about to do, would changed the world forever.
Tuesday marks the 500th anniversary of the day Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This action set the course of the Protestant Reformation.
The 95 Theses was an academic disputation around the increasing corruption in the catholic church and, in particular, the highly profitable sale of salivation through indulgences. These indulgences promised a fast-track to heaven and were sold to fund the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Luther, a professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg at the time, simply wanted to discuss these theological issues with his fellow professors. However, no one came to his debate, and some students got a hold of the theses making copies of it, thanks to Johannes Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press.
The 95 Theses then spread across Germany, making it’s way eventually to Rome and into the hands of the Pope. This setoff a firestorm of reform and profoundly changed Europe and the Christian church.
500-years later, Catholic and Protestant are stressing their unity. In a homily at a prayer service marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Pope Francis said;
“As Catholics and Lutherans, we have undertaken a common journey of reconciliation. Now, in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation of 1517, we have a new opportunity to accept a common path, one that has taken shape over the past fifty years in the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.”