The Heritage of the Reformation – What Remains of the Reformation Today?

The Heritage of the Reformation

What Remains of the Reformation Today

John Morrill
19 October 2017

The Michaelhouse Centre, attached to Great St Mary’s Church, is a movingly appropriate place to discuss this subject. John Fisher was Master of Michaelhouse when it was a college (this was from 1497 to 1505); the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) preached here; the great reformer Martin Bucer, an exile from Strasbourg and Professor in the University of Cambridge in the reign of Edward VI, is buried in Great St Mary’s next door. It is germane to our theme that under Mary I his coffin was dug up and his remains and his books burned in the market square, also adjacent to Michaelhouse. Yet Bucer is also important because Bucer was an irenic figure: from the start of the Reformation he pleaded with Protestant groups to stop quarrelling about details. Both the need for tolerance (not the same as toleration) and the legacies of distrust are the themes of this address. From the Roman Catholic perspective, of great importance is the Second Vatican Council decree on ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio. Section 1 begins with the statement that

The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council.

Section 3 states that

…some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ. The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

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Muslim writers in Germany Today

Muslim writers in Germany Today

Margaret Littler
20 July 2017

Islam in Germany

On 3 October 2010 the then President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Wulff, gave a speech in Bremen as part of nationwide festivities marking 20 years since German unification in October 1990. His speech included the following statement:

First and foremost, we need to adopt a clear stance: an understanding that for Germany, belonging is not restricted to a passport, a family history, or a religion…Christianity doubtless belongs in Germany. Judaism doubtless belongs in Germany. That is our Judeo-Christian history. But by now, Islam also belongs in Germany.

Almost 50 years after the first Turkish ‘guest workers’ arrived in West Germany (1961) to fuel the post-war economic miracle, this was still a highly controversial statement.[1] In the same year German economist and politician Thilo Sarrazin published a polemical bestseller, Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany is Doing Away with Itself), warning of the consequences of Muslim immigration, and predicting that if current rates of immigration continued Germans would eventually become a minority in their own country, the churches would become museums and German culture would be lost for ever. But, as many have pointed out, Sarrazin’s fantasy of a culturally homogeneous German nation is blind to centuries of German engagement with Islam, from the eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant to the Romantics, from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the German philologists and linguists who opened up Oriental languages and cultures to the world (?enocak 2011, pp.32-33).

[1] For some detail on the debate see: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/ the-world-from-berlin-integration-is-the-second german- unification-a-721119.html.

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Germany, Brexit and the Future of the European Union

Germany, Brexit and the Future of the European Union

Charles Lees & Philip Walters
20 July 2017

Politics and Society in Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany comprises the eleven states of the former West Germany and the five states of the former East Germany. Its political system has two important features: parliamentary federalism and mixed-member proportional representation (MMP). A federal parliamentary republic is a federation of states with a government that is more or less dependent on the confidence of parliaments at both the national and subnational levels. MMP is a mixed electoral system in which voters have two votes: one to decide the representative for their single-seat constituency, and one for a political party’s ‘list’ of candidates. Seats in the legislature are filled firstly by the successful constituency candidates, and secondly by party candidates on the basis of the percentage of nationwide votes that each party receives. MMP differs from parallel voting in that the nationwide seats are allocated to political parties in a compensatory manner in order to achieve proportional election results. Under MMP, two parties that each receive 25% of the votes may both end up with 25% of the seats, even if one party wins more constituencies than the other.

The political system that developed in Germany after the Second World War was a three-party central-tending triangular dynamic involving the CDU/CSU, the SPD and the FDP, which were been more or less equal in political influence if not seats. This political system was somewhat upset after 1983 when the Greens became significant, and in 1990 with the emergence of the left-leaning PDS (the direct successor to the East German SED and later to become the Left Party) after the reincorporation of the GDR. Over the last 20 years Germany has become much more of a cosmopolitan and multicultural society. The 2011 census gave the population of Germany as 80.2 million. About 74 million (92.3%) were German citizens, of whom 9.9 million (12.3%) were of immigrant background. About 6 million (7.7%) were foreign nationals. The figures for religious belief were: none 33.5%; Roman Catholic 29.5%; Protestant 27.9%; Muslim 5%; other Christian 3.3%; other religion 0.8%. Social cleavages persist to differing degrees in Germany along ethnic, onfessional, class and geographical lines, accompanied by a cultural divide between citizens with libertarian or authoritarian value orientations. Nevertheless the German political culture is still basically consensual, as opposed to the UK’s adversarial political culture. A stable party system, a relatively consensual parliamentary culture, coalition government and multi-level governance, in the context of a social market economy, make up what has been called Germany’s ‘efficient secret’ (Smith 1994).

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2017, Latvia

Religion in the Baltic States: Past and Present Challenges – Latvia

Religion in the Baltic States: Past and Present Challenges


Eliza Zikmane

Thank you for inviting me to speak today on religion in a country on the other edge of Europe. I will focus on the Lutheran Church, but will start with a historic overview of Christianity in Latvia.

The origins of Christianity in Latvia

Lands on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea were among the last in Europe to be Christianised. Seen from the British perspective, these lands may seem to be a sluggish backwater of Europe, but in fact for millennia trading routes were active here, connecting East and West, North and South, through busy ports. The first sparse written records on the Baltic tribes can be found in Greek and Roman sources; later Vikings sailed up the rivers and established a trading route to Constantinople. Throughout subsequent centuries several powerful nations of Europe attempted to conquer or control these lands in order to gain full control of the Baltic Sea.

Living in a buffer-zone between big and powerful states and empires has shaped the mentality of the Baltic peoples, and has an impact on their attitude to religion and organised religion in particular.

The first sporadic influences of Christianity came to Latvia through short-lived Viking settlements in western Latvia and through Russian merchants travelling from the East along the river Daugava. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Germans organised mission and conquest in order to Christianise the tribes in Latvia; this was part of the Northern or Baltic Crusades, a military campaign carried out largely by the Teutonic Knights. Local tribes were defeated; the local people were forced to get baptised, and the land ended up in the hands of Germans. The indigenous population were eventually forced into servitude.

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2017, Estonia

Religion in the Baltic States: Past and Present Challenges – Estonia

Religion in the Baltic States: Past and Present Challenges


Tiit Pädam


In 2016 the Parliament of Estonia elected a new President for the Republic, Kersti Kaljulaid. She was inaugurated on 10 October. The occasion gave rise to heated debate: not because for the first time in Estonian history a woman had become President, but because she broke with the tradition of her predecessors and did not take part in the celebratory thanksgiving service in the Lutheran cathedral in Tallinn.

She explained that she had never been a churchgoer, although she respected all religions and people of different confessions. As an example she described how as a member of the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg she had been on a delegation to the Vatican where she had been received by the Pope and participated in all the religious services in connection with the visit. She also said that her decision not to attend the service had been motivated by the fact that according to the Constitution of Estonia there is no state church. She has written that ‘A self-confident Estonian is free in their choices’ (quoted on the main page of her official website, https://www.president.ee/en/president/biography/index.html”).

Her decision provoked an extraordinary number of reactions and a heated debate broke out. Many felt insulted; others welcomed her decision. The leadership of the Lutheran Church tried to keep a good face, but they were mostly disappointed and critical. Arguments were pitted against arguments and there were emotional discussions.

Why I have begun my introduction to religion in Estonia with this incident? There are three reasons. First, the debate clearly expresses the controversial attitude to religion in Estonia. Second, it highlights the rather strange position of the Lutheran Church in Estonian society. Third, it sheds light on the position of all the churches in Estonia towards the secular state and church-state relations. In Estonia there is great confusion in religious matters; this is a confusion that characterises Estonian reality generally.

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Faith in Europe’s response to the document “What Future for Europe? An Open Letter of CEC to Churches and Partner Organisations”

The Response of ‘Faith in Europe’ to the Document “What Future for Europe? An Open Letter of CEC to Churches and Partner Organisations”

Sent 9 November 2016

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) open letter was issued only days before the referendum which, by a relatively narrow majority, approved the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the European Union (EU). This response from ‘Faith in Europe’ emerges against that background. The response obviously represents a distinctively British viewpoint, albeit one that raises issues of wider European concern.

‘Faith in Europe’

‘Faith in Europe’ is a national organization that is principally though not exclusively Christian (Islam and Judaism are represented within it). It is concerned for Europe’s well-being and the role of faith communities in shaping its future. Its members and constituent bodies (which include most ‘main-line’ Churches) are generally though not uncritically supportive of moves toward greater European integration. Its core members were greatly dismayed though not wholly surprised by the referendum’s outcome. Nevertheless, we recognize that this bitter experience provides an opportunity for reflection and the learning of lessons having Europe-wide relevance. We trust that CEC will contribute much to such a learning process.

The UK’s referendum

CEC’s recent document obviously identifies the EU’s major achievements as well as significant obstacles impeding the realization of its potential. This response does not cover the same ground. Britain’s referendum, however, offers much specific evidence, of EU-wide relevance, concerning present and possibly future difficulties.

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Christianity as the Soul of Europe

Christianity as the Soul of Europe

The Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe
14 July 2016

Note: This is the written text of an illustrated presentation


Europe is constantly at the forefront of the news. There are many within Europe, including the UK, who feel deeply negatively towards what they see as an attempted super-state run by faceless bureaucrats – caricatured as a centralised set of institutions intent on banning lead in organ pipes and making us buy straight bananas. But for many who live outside Europe it appears to be a promised land. For thousands of refugees, Europe seems a paradise, a stronghold of peace, prosperity and civilisation. Those who have lived a long time in Europe seem weary of it. But those who aren’t able to share the alleged European comforts, want to get here at any price to join us. ‘What is it that some have yet no longer want, and for which others yearn so deeply?’

What is Europe? Is it merely a certain geographical land mass and the diverse peoples who happen to live within it? Or is it also a certain project that aims to help those peoples to live together harmoniously and prosperously with a set of shared values? And if we want to be ‘out’ of Europe, is that a statement about our feeling disconnected from the continent or is it saying that we don’t want to participate in certain shared political institutions? And how is Christianity mixed into our history, our identity, our soul? This presentation explores some of the contradictions and challenges of Europe. It begins with a brief tour of the historical sources and origins of modern Europe and reviews the place of Christianity amongst those sources. We consider the triumphs and tragedies of twentieth-century Europe, which provide the immediate context for the modern European Union. And then we look at where Christianity – and particularly I suppose you will expect me to say something about the Anglican Diocese in Europe – stands within Europe today and how Christians might think about Europe as we live with the reality of a vote to ‘leave’ Europe. The presentation focusses to a degree on the East German city of Leipzig, because its built architecture conveniently highlights some of the key historical and Christian themes of our continent.

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Thinking Creatively about Europe

Thinking Creatively about Europe

Faith in Europe AGM, 9 July 2015

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams

former Archbishop of Canterbury and now Master of Magdalene College Cambridge

Text compiled from notes by Philip Walters and approved by Rowan Williams

I would like to focus on a number of aspects of European identity. Two obviously important constituents are the Classical heritages of Greece, to which we owe the idea of democracy, and of Rome, which has mainly meant organised militarism. However, it not enough to think of European identity just in terms of these two legacies. There is also the Christian legacy, and other legacies.

There were no weekends in Ancient Rome. This is not a frivolous point: weekends are markers for the passage of time in a religious context. With weekends we mark the reliving of the human story of the life of Jesus weekly and yearly; and this is tied in with the evolution of the European individual. Boris Pasternak said that Christ is a human life printed on the world. Nobody is exempted from this image: slaves, the poor, women. Yes, this legacy lies under the debris of patriarchy; but as Thomas Aquinas said, there are some areas of human life that are ineradicable.

Europe also has its Muslim and Jewish legacies. Christianity, Islam and Judaism are a family quarrel rather than a clash of civilisations. We need to remember that Medieval Catholic theology was crucially informed by influx from the Muslim and Jewish peripheries.

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2015, Ukraine

A Christian European State: Religion in Modern Ukraine

A Christian European State: Religion in Modern Ukraine

Faith in Europe AGM, 16 April 2015

Robert Brinkley
British Ambassador to Ukraine 2002-2006


Over the last year and a bit the Ukrainian people have suffered greatly, not for the first time in the past century. Part of their state has been forcibly annexed. Some of the Donbas – the eastern coal and steel region – has fallen prey to separatist criminals, sponsored, armed and supported by Russia. The Ukrainian currency has lost 80% of its value, a steeper drop than any other currency, inflation has risen and the economy contracted by 5% last year. This is a man-made disaster. Over 6000 people have lost their lives. Many more have been injured. Some one and a half million have had to flee their homes.

These numbers hide individual faces and names. A few examples:

  • Last September in L’viv (Western Ukraine) I met the young widow of a Donets’k social activist, with her teenage daughter. In April, at the start of the uprising, he had been abducted by separatists and killed. Their house had been destroyed. The widow and her daughter were now being cared for in Kyiv.
  • In Crimea the Tatar community is again under threat, having returned to their homeland only in the late 1980s following their expulsion to Central Asia by Stalin. Some of their leaders have been barred from Crimea. Some Tatars have been abducted and killed. Their media outlets have been closed. Thousands of them have left for mainland Ukraine; I met some of them in L’viv in September at a festival of Crimean Tatar culture. Other communities in Crimea – Orthodox parishes of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Catholic and Jewish – have also faced menace and obstruction.
  • In the territory controlled by the separatists in Eastern Ukraine, three Catholic priests were kidnapped; the residence of the Greek Catholic Bishop in Donets’k was robbed and sealed; the Bishop and almost all his priests were forced to leave the Donets’k area; on 16 August the convent of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Donets’k was seized by separatists while the sisters were away on summer retreat and children’s camps; the sisters cannot return to their home.
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2014, Europe (general)

Recent Developments and Overall Trends in the Relationship between Religion, Law and State in Europe

Recent Developments and Overall Trends
in the Relationship between Religion, Law and State in Europe

Ronan McCrea

23 January 2014


There are two main issues where European law affects religion: the relationship between religious freedom and antidiscrimination laws and the role of religious symbols in public life and what influence European norms are having in these areas. There is also an overall trend that I think is having a significant impact on approaches to those issues in Europe.

Anti-discrimination laws and exemptions

Religion has a particularly complicated relationship to non-discrimination as religious bodies and institutions make two very distinct and in some ways conflicting demands of the law in this area.

On the one hand, religious individuals claim legal protection from discrimination. That is why the law prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion in areas such as employment. For religious freedom to be properly protected, individuals should, for example, not be fired from their jobs because their employer disapproves of their religious choices.

On the other hand, religious institutions and individuals sometimes seek the right to discriminate, normally by refusing to employ someone in order to protect the ethos of a religiously-owned institution or by refusing to provide goods or services to a person, usually in order to avoid condoning or facilitating sinful conduct.

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