"'Martin Luther' is not a popular figure in most Catholic circles. Understandably so. Most Catholics who think about Luther at all, hold him responsible for the dividing of Christendom and the problem of ongoing Christian disunity. What’s more, the pesky Fundamentalist missionary at the door, who attacks the Catholic Church as the“whore of Babylon”, is seen, rightly or wrongly, as a direct spiritual descendant of the former German Augustinian monk.
But now here comes Pope Benedict XVI, a fellow German, visiting his homeland and speaking to German Evangelical Christians, i.e. Lutherans, as we call them here. The Holy Father seems comfortable talking about Luther with Lutherans, even talking with obvious regard and sympathy for Luther. Shocking?
Not to those who have followed the nuances of Catholic teaching on non-Catholic Christians as it has developed, especially as expressed in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and in papal teaching since then. Not to those who are dissatisfied with a spiritual cold war among western Christians or who don’t need to refight the battles of the 16th century in order confidently and placidly to affirm their Catholic faith. And not to those familiar with Benedict XVI, theologian and pastor."
"For those who think themselves more Catholic than the Pope, Benedict’s approach to Luther and to ecumenical action in general may displease. But for the rest of us, it was inspiring to see a German pope, addressing a group of German Lutherans and, without compromise to Catholicism, quoting Martin Luther."