Oct. 31, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary since Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nailed his “95 Theses,” or list of objections to the Catholic teachings and practices of the time, to the door of his hometown church.

His grievances eventually led to a split from the Catholic Church, known as the Protestant Reformation, and the resulting enmity between Catholic and Protestant denomination lasted for centuries.

Fr. Mark Francis

In recent years, a renewed sense of ecumenism has arisen out of Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, but Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, maintains that Catholics need to go further — and actively work together as Christians.

“Today, thou we are called to a new ecumenical moment,” Fr. Francis says. “We need to go beyond words and continue to work together as a common witness to God’s love in  Christ.”

As president of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Fr. Francis will preach about the reformation on Oct. 31 during a Reformation Day Service of the Word at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. That night, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, will lead an ecumenical prayer service — with Bishop Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, ELCA — at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.

Fr. Francis points to the words of Pope Francis, who issued a joint declaration one year ago with Dr. Martin Junge, chair of the Lutheran World Federation.

“True ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Redeemer,” Pope Francis said. “If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another. During these days let us pray more fervently to the Holy Spirit so that we may experience this conversion which makes reconciliation possible.

“We urge Lutherans and Catholics to work together to welcome the stranger,” their statement read, “to come to the aid of those forced to flee because of war and persecution, and to defend the rights of refugees and those who seek asylum. Our joint service must also extend to the care of God’s creation.”