Reconciliation after 500 years

On Thursday evening in Stuttgart the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) apologized to Mennonites in a moving ceremony for cruel persecution of the Anabaptist movement by Lutherans. The full assembly of the LWF voted unanimously for such a declaration. This declaration asks for forgiveness for the persecution of the so-called re-baptizers (Anabaptists) in the sixteenth century, for the forgetting and ignoring of this persecution in later times, and also for all inappropriate, false, and offensive representations of Anabaptists and Mennonites by Lutheran authors up till the present day. The acceptance of the text took place in prayer while kneeling. The president of the Mennonite World Conference, Danisa Ndlovu from Zimbabwe, accepted the plea for forgiveness.

He said that the Lutherans had shown integrity through their initiative, and that their spirit of repentance was very moving. “Even we cannot approach this table with head held high, but rather, bowed in great humility,” he said. His community commits itself to continue the dialogue on disputed dogmatic questions “in a spirit of mutual woundedness and openness.” An international Lutheran-Mennonite study commission produced an account of their common history in 2005-2008 as a foundation for the reconciliation. This commission examined the doctrinal condemnations of the Anabaptists in the Augsburg Confessions and appraised them as partially not applicable.

About a million people belong to the worldwide Mennonite community.

From the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, translation awr.

3 comments

  1. Does this mean we’re on the way to a similar apology to the old ICEL by its unjust persecutors?

  2. Probably but Catholics do not act as quickly as Lutherans so you can add a bit on to that 500 year time frame.

  3. I was very touched by this story, especially the bit about offering the apology on their knees. The response of the Mennonites was very gracious too. The whole thing seemed to me to say that repentance is never too late. Would that we all might deal with the bitter moments of our histories in such a spirit of humility and faith. God bless them! This was the best news I’ve heard all week.

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