Not many may remember all that actually happened almost 500 years ago during and after the reformation. We Lutherans mainly remember Martin Luther's struggle to reform the Catholic Church and how he was finally kicked out of Catholic Church and had to establish a protestant church. We Lutherans tend not to remember how the Lutheran princes persecuted the Anabaptists, and did so with theological support from leaders of the protestant reformation. The Anabaptists, or Mennonites, as they themselves prefer to be called, however, have never forgotten how they were treated by their Lutheran brethren in the Christian faith.
What has just happened at the Council meeting of the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva today is therefore very significant. The council unanimously approved the report, ”Healing of Memories; Reconciliation in Christ”, from the Lutheran-Mennonite International Study Commission, 2005-2009 and the below statement and recommended it for adoptaion at the LWF Assembly in Stuttgart, Germany in 2010.
”When Lutherans today realize the history of Lutheran –anabaptist relationships in the 16th century and beyond as it is presented in the report of the Lutheran – Mennonite International Study Commission, the are filled with a deep sense regret and pain over the persecution of Anabaptists by Lutheran authorities and especially over the fact that Lutheran reformers theologically supported this persecution. Thus, LWF, A Communion of Churches wishes to express publicly its deep regret and sorrow.
Trusting in God who in Jesus Christ was reconciling the world to hiself, we ask for forgiveness – from God and fromour Mennonite sisters an brothers – for the harm that our forbears in the 16th century committed to Anabaptists, for forgetting or ignoring this persecution in the intervening centuries, and for all inappropriate, misleading and hurtful portraits of Anabaptists and Mennonites made by Lutheran authors, in both popular and scholarly forms, to the present day.
We pray that God may grant to our communities a healing of our memories and reconciliation.”
As the president of LWF, bishop Mark Hansson, ELCA, said at this very emotionale moment: "We talk a lot about repentence, but more important than words about repentence is repentence. And this is what we are involved in today."
Geneva, Monday October 26, 2009
Mogens S. Mogensen