Anniversary of Reformation ‘opportunity to reflect’, says MEP

Mairead McGuinness warns against ‘intolerant nationalism’ at Brussels meeting

Portraits of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina von Bora at  The Luther Effect: 500 Years of Protestantism in the World exhibition at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty

Portraits of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina von Bora at The Luther Effect: 500 Years of Protestantism in the World exhibition at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty

 

This year’s 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation offers “a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the lasting impact the movement had in shaping our modern European societies”, MEP Mairéad McGuinness has said.

Vice-president of the European Parliament with responsibility for the parliament’s dialogue with churches, she also said that “the memory of earlier refugees from religious persecution should cause us to reflect on how we treat some of Europe’s newest immigrants. The lesson of needing to respect diversity should help us address the strains of intolerant nationalism, sadly present in some of our countries.”

She emphasised that “if the European project is to retain the support of citizens, it must remain grounded in reality. Churches are very much part of that everyday reality, part of the fabric of our communities across the cities, towns, villages and our countryside.”

Ms McGuinness was speaking in Brussels during her keynote address to a gathering of Protestant Churches in Europe there commemorating 500 years of reformation.

Great fascination

“In over 2000 years of Christianity shaping Europe, the events of 500 years ago being commemorated in 2017 were amongst the most significant in terms of reshaping our European continent. A half a millennium later, the Reformation remains a period of great fascination to historians, theologians and whole swathes of society,” she said.

Referring to the recent Reformation quincentenary theological symposium at Trinity College Dublin, she said the school of religions, peace studies and theology at that university had done “tremendous work over the years” in building peace and understanding between communities.

Ms McGuinness concluded her address with a quotation from Pope Francis made at a Reformation commemoration event in Sweden last October where he said: “We Christians will be credible witnesses of mercy to the extent that forgiveness, renewal and reconciliation are daily experienced in our midst.”