Five centuries after he ignited the Reformation by challenging papal authority, Martin Luther is expected to get a break from—of all people—Pope Benedict XVI. The pope is German and ostensibly that's the only thing he has in common with Luther. Nevertheless, the pope plans a warmer and fuzzier re-evaluation of the monk who divided Christianity in 1517, according to the Times of London. Benedict is expected to argue that Luther didn't intend to divide the Church—only cleanse it of corruption.
It's a bid to launch an ecumenical dialog with Lutherans and bridge a rift created by an earlier papal statement referring to Protestant and Orthodox faiths as defective. “We have much to learn from Luther, beginning with the importance he attached to the word of God,” said the Vatican's front man on Christian Unity. He observed that Luther “anticipated aspects of reform which the Church has adopted over time.”