A Journal for The Contemporary Church

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From Foe to Friend – Martin Luther’s Legacy


It all started with a door! When Martin Luther allegedly pinned his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517 he had little idea of the theological and political
tumult he was about to unleash in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. These theses were concerned with a proper understanding of repentance, the forgiveness of sin, the power of the pope, and the practice of indulgences. Luther intended them as an invitation to a theological discussion, not to divide the Church.
It all started with a door! Doors play a not insignificant role in the life of the Church. Since the fourteenth-century the Church has periodically instituted a Holy Year (every 25 years or so) part of
which was a pilgrimage to Rome to make reparation for sin and seek conversion of life. In 2015 to mark the jubilee of mercy, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica and hoped it
would become a ‘Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope’ and he continued: ‘To pass through the Holy Door means
to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.’