The attitude of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) towards the Papal Encyclicals after the year 1965. Its relations with the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council.

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2012

184 Pages, Grade: Summa cum laude





Α. Delineation of the research
Β. Research method and structure of the thesis

First Chapter
1. The Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD)
2. The United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD)
3. The German Bishops’ Conference – GBC
4. The Second Vatican Council
5. Post Second Vatican Council Developments
6. The Ecumenical Movement
6.1. The Ecumenical Movement and the Roman Catholic Church
6.2. The Ecumenical Movement and Protestantism
6.3. The Ecumenical Movement in Germany - Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen
6.4. The Ecumenical Movement in the postmodern era

Second Chapter - The Theology, Ecclesiology and Sociology of the Papal Encyclicals

Third Chapter - The attitude of the Evangelical Church in Germany towards the papal encyclicals through the official papers and views of its representatives, commissioners and theologians
1. Encyclicals of Pope Paul
1.1. Before the end of the Council
1.2. Following the end of the Council
2. Encyclicals of Pope John Paul
3. The encyclicals of Pope Benedict

Fourth Chapter - The dialogue between the two churches in Germany today
1. Construction Augsburg
2. Construction Germany
3. Developments of the Ecumenical Movement in Germany
4. Towards the formation of the EKD as a ‘communion’
5. The EKD as a ‘Church of freedom’



Α. Sources
Β. Greek Bibliography
C. Bibliography in other languages
D. Web pages (the date of the last visit is given in a parenthesis):


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


This PhD thesis aims to open the gates of the German ecclesiastical scene towards the Greek orthodoxy and contribute to the course of the ecumenical theology. With no response there is no dialogues, according to a German saying. It is true that the ecclesiastical life in Germany on the whole and the inter-denominational relations have being following this track of response and dialogue. The radical social changes and the technological advancements have forced the various denominations to come closer and co-operate.

Today in Germany, both the Roman Catholic Church and the official Protestant Churches and Denominations have to deal in common with the almost entire dechristianization of the entirely secular society. Especially in the states of the former German Democratic Republic, that is of Eastern Germany, religion has not managed to regain the status it possessed before the war (70% atheists). In West Germany things are not any better. As an example I shall mention the city where I reside, Frankfurt, which reflects the current German situation as a whole. Of the city’s population, which amounts to 650.000 inhabitants of which 237.100 are of foreign origin (70.000 of which have already German citizenship), only 61,2 % identifies itself as Christiansi (24,9% Roman Catholic, 23,8% Evangelical Christians, 7,5% Orthodox and the rest), 12% identifies itself as Muslims, 2,3% belongs to other religions and 29,5% declares itself as atheist (in New York city only 7,5% of the population declares to be atheist). Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics on average attend the Sunday services at a percentage of 2-3%, in which Roman Catholics have a bigger participation (about 80%). Of a hundred weddings only fourteen take place in the Church (of which six are mixed religion marriages), while in every hundred births correspond only 28 baptismsii annuallyiii.

Before 1995 there were 70 Evangelical parishes. Today, however, following a merging process, there are only 30. These facts lead, besides the differences that exist, to the tightening of the relationships between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, mainly at a local level.

The differences between the various denominations have been greatly diminished and the aim now is to provide a strong common Christian testimony. Through co-operations, joint events, social solidarity, action in coalitions, they attempt to find common targets and a future course. Undoubtedly, the ‘transformation’ of the local communities by the vigorous presence of the non-German members is of fundamental importance. A typical example is the increase of Roman Catholics in traditionally Protestant societies due to immigration from traditionally Roman Catholic states (Italy, Poland, Latin America etc.). The Protestant communities also include within them a significant number of immigrants. The difficulty in accepting the reality shown by the governing body of the Churches causes various problems (e.g. the representation of the non-German speaking Roman Catholic parishes in the official summits is almost nonexistent and the Roman Catholic dioceses ignore the requests for change).

All these happen at a local level. At the international level similar phenomena are to be found. Our research on the topic of this thesis has taught us a lot of things and has allowed us to indulge in the microcosm and the macrocosm of the churches under examination and to come to our conclusions. We feel, as second generation immigrants, with German citizenship given to most of us, that we are an integral part of the German society. At this point it is important to recognize the wonderful plan of the All-Merciful God, who has send our parents, with a suitcase in hand, abroad to foreign people, to obtain the daily bread and a better life outwardly, but essentially to carry with them the Greek Orthodox faith that they kept in their hearts. Pure bearers of the Greek Orthodox civilization, they brought in their hearts and disseminated to their children as far as possible the Greek spirit. The Greek spirit is experienced in every Greek Orthodox family and perhaps much more than in modern Greece. Our country is not a place anymore but rather a way of life. A way of experiencing the Greek tradition. The foundation of spiritual countries has been within our parents’ primary concerns. In hostile places they have sown small countries that thrive and bear fruits today. Our holly churches and spiritual centres are the fruits of struggles and sufferings, and embrace like caring mothers three and four generations of people. The parish work as a whole is a miracle that thrives in Germany. Without a Church tax, as the one that the Roman Catholics and the Protestants have to pay in their Church, without a state subsidy, either Greek or German, the Orthodox parishes have been able not only to preserve themselves, but also accomplish a rich work that can easily compete with the parishes of the ‘official’ Churches. Currently Orthodoxy with its 1.5 million of believers, is the third branch of German Christendom. Its presence is not just noticeable, but also active. The German society seeks authentic forms of faith, and Orthodoxy, being faithful to the apostolic, patristic and liturgical tradition, can offer a lot, can thrill and excite the mortified religious feeling of western society. Recently I heard Prof. Dr. Edmund Weber saying that he cannot feel comfortable anymore neither in a Roman Catholic nor an Evangelical church, as they have both lost the vital element of the ‘sacred’ and the ‘holly’, whereas he can experience these feelings during even a Hindu ceremony, where the notion of the sacrament is not lost. The sacred, the holly and the sacrament can be offered by the Orthodox tradition. It is our view that Orthodoxy, should it manage to overcome its internal problems, will offer a new momentum at the re-christianization of the secular German society. This task falls to the promising foundation of Orthodox Episcopal Councils and Conferences. A typical example of the intense interest in Orthodoxy is the unprecedented massive participation in the Orthodox events realized at the Ökumenischen Kirchentag in 2010 in Munich. It is worth describing here the impressive event that we witnessed at the main presentation of the Orthodox. Within the frame of the inter-orthodox vigil, the ceremony of the blessing of bread, wine and olive oil was celebrated at one of the central squares of the city. The parishioners of Munich had laid out 1000 tables and offered 1000 loaves of bread. Each table could accommodate 10 persons. It was thus expected that the number of attendants would amount to 10.000. What happened outreached every expectation. Under continuous rain more than 25.000 people gathered in the square, attended the two hour vigil with great concentration, and the 1000 loaves of bread not only sufficed for the 25.000, but the leftover pieces filled ‘twelve full baskets’. The strong request of the Roman Catholics and Protestants for the common ‘breaking of the bread’ was fulfilled so simply by Orthodoxy.

Another element that is absent from the western theologies is the oikonomia. The discretion and the interpretation of the rules under the spirit of oikonomia grants great lustre to Orthodoxy. This oikonomia is looked for by Roman Catholics and Protestants and they wish to know it in all its dimensions.

The Orthodox way of coexistence with Islam is also significant as an exemplary way. The German society, truly astonished by the speedy development of Muslim societies and scared of the dynamics of this religion, moves spasmodically and appears fully ignorant of the Muslim ways. At this point Orthodoxy can lead the way and contribute effectively to the confrontation of the problems and the creation of a peaceful coexistence with Islam.

The imperative search for moral values in Germany today is another challenge for Orthodoxy. Through its tradition, the theology of its Fathers, the Eucharistic life, the profound faith of its members, it is able to contribute significantly to the foundation and construction of solid values.

German theology, Protestant and Roman Catholic, is still today a driving force in the worldwide theology. It is therefore important that the Orthodox theology would indulge in it, so that it will be able to contribute from its treasures and to influence positively. Our work aims to offer a small insight into the western theologies and the western way of thinking.

This work could not be fulfilled without the providence of the merciful God. His providence was particularly evident, when in the middle of struggles for the construction of an annex of the parish of Prophet Elijah in Frankfurt, I was ill and pinned to the bed and was thus provided with two months’ time for the completion of the writing. We thank Him whole-heartedly and we glorify His holy name.

The intense fatherly support of our spiritual father, His Eminence Metropolitan of Germany Augustinos, has been the main incentive for the creation of this work. His Eminence teaches us with his continuous example and wants his children to advance and to promote in every possible way Orthodoxy, and not the persons, in Germany.

Without the material, moral and spiritual support of my parents Dimitrios and Foteini, my bother Ioanni and my ant Athanasia Kastridou, this work could not be realized. They stood by me in every step. They shared with me my agonies, difficulties, happy moments and sorrows and they inspired me to go on. They have embraced me with much love and encouraged me. I thank them deeply. May their sacrifices be welcomed in the heavenly sanctuary as ‘fragrant incense’.

My children, the parishioners of Prophet Elijah in Frankfurt, embraced me and supported me with guileless love and understanding all these years that I needed to take time from my pastoral duties in order to devote it to research and writing. Their smiles, their bosom, their words, their willingness to undertake responsibilities and perform services, have greatly touched me. May God grand them peace every day through His love.

Warm wishes I shall also express towards all those who have helped me with this thesis, especially to my supervisor Prof. Despo Ath. Lialiou, who has never failed to believe in my abilities and as a good instructor has led me to the end of the road. To the Roman Catholic theologian Ms Nathalie Lubetzki, who has helped me a lot in my search for bibliography in archives and libraries. To the Evangelical pastor Ms Ilona Klemens, who gave support to my communication with the Evangelical Church in Germany. To the philologist Smaro Ziliaskopoulou who corrected my work with no delay. To Mr Anghelos Anastasiadis and his wife Evanghelia Alpi for their help with translations. To all those that have stood by my side all these years and urged me not to give up.

I thank them all and I promise to pray for them all my life and for as long I serve the Sanctuary.


Α. Delineation of the research

This thesis deals with the topic: The attitude of the Evangelical Church in Germany[1] (EKD) towards the Papal Encyclicals after the year 1965. Its relations with the Roman Catholic Church[2] after the Second Vatican Council. It is common for the introduction to present the course of the research related to the subject of the thesis. The topic presents some peculiarities which need clarification. It is a modern topic that touches directly the inter-Christian/ inter-denominational/ inter-ecclesiastical relations in Germany at the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and indirectly the Ecumenical Movement in a universal scale. The papal encyclicals are dogmatic texts with a specific structure and style and they echo the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes they deal with general issues and other times with specific issues, quite carefully, that need direction, confrontation and limit setting. In essence they complement, explain or underline the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. The difficulty in this research is the comparison between not just two churches of one country, but one universal church with its centre outside Germany and specific ecclesiastical, dogmatic and theological structures, with a community of many autonomous Protestant churches that have a clearly local character based on various Denominations and and further various structures at all levels.

The understanding of the attitude of the Protestants towards the papal encyclicals and the Roman Catholic Church in general, requires first the understanding of the common and various views of the two parties. The common base is the Holy Bible and the Apostolic Symbol of Faith. Christ is the foundation stone and the participation in the body of church, as a community of persons, is a manifestation of this faith. Ο Triadic God, who is Love and merciful, saves the man. The Holy Spirit constitutes the Church. They both recognize their responsibility to witness the love of the gospels in the contemporary world. On the surface, there are no dogmatic differences. The differences are found at the denominational level, as well as at the level of the anthropological and ecclesiastical interpretation of the dogmas of the faith.[3]

Both churches confess the absolute authenticity of the Word of God[4]. The way in which the Word is transmitted and interpreted, as well as the way of the Church’s authenticity, is different. In the Roman Catholic Church the faith of the Catholic Church is of fundamental significance. Faith means the acceptance of the doctrines of the church and the obedience to it. Each member experiences faith within the body of the church, being at constant communication with it, and obeys in matters of faith, accepting the infallibility of the church expressed through the infallibility of the Pope[5]. In the Evangelical Church it is the personal faith of each member that is stressed; this faith springs from the common hearing and experience of the Word of God, within the frame of the parish community. The church as a group of faithful cannot be infallible. Only the Word of God is infallible, therefore whichever teaching does not originate directly from the Holy Scripture is not binding[6]. The different way of understanding the doctrine and the Church affects all levels of Christian teaching and its practical application. The Roman Catholic Church as a divine-human institution assembled in the body of Christ considers all other churches to be outside the true body of the Church. The highest expression of the Body of the church is Holy Communion. The gospel truth, as a revelation of God, is interpreted by the doctrines of the Church[7]. The theological interpretations and opinions regarding contemporary issues are not binding. The holy sacraments are active vessels of God’s grace[8]. Common participation of members of other Churches cannot essentially take place, because in the rest and especially the Protestant Churches, there is not proper priesthood and apostolic succession; moreover, the Roman Catholic Church has a different understanding of the Eucharistic gifts as a heavenly sacrifice of Christ, who is present in the bread and the wine. The visible piety, as an expression of the inner faith, is a characteristic of the Roman Catholic faithful and is experienced daily in the sacraments, the services, the honour of the Virgin Mary and the Saints. The Church is considered an ‘affectionate mother’ who loves her children and guides them with safety to the eternal life[9]. The moral theology starts from the given principle of being in nature in general and in human nature in particular, understood by the principles of moral behaviours. This natural law was completed by the divine law, after the revelation of the divine oikonomia. The state, as a human institution, and the laws can specify and regulate the life of the human societies; they cannot, however, substitute in an absolute way the Church (as a divine institution) and the family (as a natural institution created by God’s command) or the Gospel law[10].

The Evangelical Churches consider themselves saved and sanctified human societies that have been called by God to share in common His love and His gifts. A common expression of faith is the glorification of God at the Sunday services and the hearing of the Word of God[11]. The Holy Bible in itself is a safe guide to salvation[12]. God acts equally through the sacraments of the Church and through the intensive studying of the Holy Scriptures or the preaching[13]. The Eucharistic supper as a simple commemoration of the Last Supper allows the participation of the faithful of other communions[14]. The idea of the ‘mother Church’ is absent in Protestantism. The Church is understood as a road sign that leads towards the resurrected Christ and as a congregation of the audience of the Word of God[15]. The ethics in the Evangelical Churches move in the frame of each Christian’s personal responsibility, which needs to be consistent with the revealed Word of God. Everything outside the Bible, namely nature itself and the human being, is considered susceptible to sin. The world is fallible and it is God’s grace only that can sanctify the nature and the man. The human beings, according to their Christian consciousness, arrange their behaviour. Within a state or a community Christian ethics dictate the ministry of the Christian in the world[16].

The Evangelical Church of Germany cannot be considered a united protestant Church, because simply it is not and also did not aspire to be until very recently. It is simply a society of local churches that mainly aims to have a common attitude towards social and political issues and not towards ecclesiastical and dogmatic ones. It certainly takes a stance on dogmatic issues when called to deal with them. Its theological texts, however, are not at all dogmatic or binding for the churches that it includes. This fact allows flexibility, ability to adapt at any circumstances and freedom of judgement. On the other side, the German Bishop’s Hierarchy of the Roman Catholics is more cumbersome, since all its decisions depend on Rome. It is also a fact that at a social and political level the two churches can often act in common.

The EKD, which is by nature ‘protestant’, protests against theological and ecclesiastical announcements of Rome, that deviate from the theology of the Reformation. Purely confessional, it rejects doctrines that do not spring directly from the Holy Scriptures. With regard to the papal encyclicals, it usually announces at first that it is informed about their issue by the Vatican. If their subjects are of interest to the EKD or ‘a root for trouble’, then they are commented thoroughly in press releases, in texts written by its presidents and its representatives, or in lengthy references in articles or works by well known protestant theologians.

The object of our study is all the above mentioned, from the Second Vatican Council to the present. As we have noticed, researchers in Germany up to now have studied individual encyclicals or groups of encyclicals, that deal with e.g. ethics, or sociology or liturgics. Their contents spread from politics and economy to sociology and theology. Being at times historical-critical and very sharp and at times sociologically positive, it reveals the significance of the papal encyclicals and the gravity of Vatican’s views on modern western societies. Every publication of a Vatican encyclical is always a front page in the news at the German media.

Our research has focused on finding articles, texts and bibliography in general. Primary sources are the publications at the official web sites of the EKD, the VELKD and the German Bishops’ Hierarchy from 1995 to the present[17]. For publications earlier than 1995, we applied in written to the three institutions. The VELKD has sent all volumes with the protocols of its annual councils from 1965 until 1999. The German Bishop’s Hierarchy has sent some documents that date before 1995, which however do not cover the whole period. The EKD has allowed us to search the archives of the press office of epd (evangelischer Pressedienst) in Hanover and the archives of the Evangelisches Zentral Archiv (EZA) in Berlin. The search for secondary sources continued in the German National Library in Frankfurt, in the University of Frankfurt libraries (Geisteswissenschaft, Fachbereich Katholische Theologie, Bibliothek St. Georgen, Fachbereich Evangelische Theologie, Fachbereich Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften/ Religionswissenschaften), in the libraries of Ökumenische Zentrale in Frankfurt, of Konfessionskundliches Institut der Evangelischen Kirche in Bensheim (centre for the edition of MKI- Materialdienst des Konfessionskundlichen Instituts), of the Holy Metropolis of Germany, at the archives of Evangelische Probstei Frankfurt and at the archives of the press office of the bishopric Limburg. Moreover, as far as possible, we looked into the archives of major German newspapers (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Wiesbadener Kurier, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung). The help of the Catholic Church of Greece, and mainly of the Office of Good Press, was important for both our master thesis and our PhD thesis. In addition, our active occupation with the ecumenical movement, as a commissioner of the Holy Metropolis of Germany in various ecumenical and inter-religious Councils, our participation in several local, German and European Conferences and bilateral talks, has given us the opportunity to get a closer look at people and issues of the ecumenical situation in Germany and Europe. Many elements of our research are enriched by personal discussions and feeling the pulse of the dialogue.

In general, our work, compared to the research already done, is a presentation of the attitude of a big portion of the German Protestant world towards the papal encyclicals and the ecumenical relations between the two parties through their common texts. As a neutral researcher, an orthodox theologian tries to outline precisely the current ecclesiastical situation in Germany and to cite, wherever this is necessary, the Orthodox view. It is crucial in our research to highlight the concept, the width, the importance and the timeliness of the inter-christian Dialogue and the Ecumenical Theology, despite the occasional criticism directed to these concepts.

Β. Research method and structure of the thesis

We cover our topic with a primary historical writing. It is an issue less known to the Orthodox Theology and for the right understanding of the facts calls a long narration is necessary. The citation of historical elements (the narration amounts to 60%, while the analysis to 40% of the thesis) would be deficient, without the historical retrospection and the presentation of the structures of the two churches under study. Besides, our topic is closely connected to the Ecumenical movement. Therefore the first chapter is dedicated to a brief presentation of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the churches that it consists of, its administrative composition and its organizations, its central socio-theological views, with brief references to the historic development of the German Reformation, in order to understand the roots and the traditions of its member Churches. The plethora of primary and secondary sources, related both to the reformation and its representatives, as well as to the various Denominations, are cited either to the sources or the footnotes in order to show, on the one hand, our effort (within the framework of our research) to know better the cause, the course, the theology and the reality of the German Protestantism. On the other hand, it is our aim to trigger those that are interested to look deeper. As to the modern history of EKD special attention is paid to the period after the Second World War. The foundation of the EKD takes place at the post war era and up to the present it is driven by a sentiment of repentance for the friendly attitude of the official EKD towards the Nazis during the whole period of the third Reich. The period we examine is accompanied by rapid post-war developments. One member Church of the EKD is presented thoroughly, the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany[18], for the following reasons: 1) it is the biggest and more traditional protestant Church in Germany, 2) its Chargé d’affaires for the relations with the Roman Catholic church is also the Chargé d’affaires of the EKD for the same purpose and 3) his annual references to the Council of the VELKD are sent to the Lutheran World Federation and constitute a direct object of our research. The history and the structure of the German Bishop’s Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is presented later in the chapter, so that its position in the German ecclesiastical scene is understood. This is important because this Hierarchy is the direct interlocutor of the EKD. During a brief reference to the Second Vatican Council, whose end marks the start of the period that is our focus, we cite the parameters of the Council, its decrees and the post council developments. This reveals the change in course for the Roman Catholic Church, which actually tries through the Council to redefine its role in the modern era. The dialogue and the relations between the parties are seen in the framework of the international Ecumenical Movement generally and specifically in Germany. As a result, we have found it necessary to refer to the post-war history of the Ecumenical Movement and to the presentation of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen (ACK), which is the main instrument of the theological ecumenical dialogue in Germany. Also, having as a basis the most discussed and (according to many) controversial Charta oecumenica, we want to think about the general course of Oecumenism today.

In the second chapter we focus on the theology, the ecclesiology and the sociological extensions of the papal encyclicals under study. We avoided the plain citation of the topics of the encyclicals and their partial commentary by deciding to present them as parts of the popes’ teaching. The teaching of the encyclicals is part of the presentation of the work of the three popes that we study, namely Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI (Pope John Paul I has not produced an encyclical during his short term). It is worth noting that the reason for our decision is the fact that the Roman Catholic Church itself, when it refers in its texts to the lives of the popes, it cites their teaching as presented in their encyclicals; more weight is given to the special characteristics of each pope’s personality, the targets set at the beginning of his term, and his work (travels, meetings and social work), emphasizing the worldwide extent of his life. Throughout our research we came across papal texts that refer to the work of their predecessors and specifically texts by Pope John Paul II for Pope Paul VI and by Pope Benedict for Paul VI and John Paul II. These texts were the main texts studied in this chapter, at least those for the first two popes. By dividing the encyclicals under subjects, we approach their general impact to the Protestant theological and ecclesiastical circles of Germany. Our focus here is the encyclicals which received most attention and the reasons for this, thus introducing the reader to the following chapters.

In the following chapters we move on to the main topic, which we try to describe in the best possible way, following our sources and studying its objective dimensions. Specifically in chapter three we study the attitude of the EKD towards the encyclicals through the official texts and the views of its official representatives. In the same chapter we study in depth the reactions, the activities behind the scenes, and the aftermath of the encyclicals for the protestant world of Germany. This chapter actually aspires to feel the pulse of the wider ecclesiastical scene in Germany and to explain the sociological dimensions of the Roman Catholic views and the protestant oppositions to those, studying the motives, the causes and the results.

In the fourth chapter we use a different method, the method of examples. The two big Ecumenical Meetings (Ökumenische Kirchentage) of 2003 in Berlin and 2010 in Munich, organised by laymen of all the Christian churches in Germany and under the auspices of the official leaders of the Churches, have been decisive for the course of the dialogue and indicative of the future aims of the Ecumenical Movement in Germany (with worldwide extensions). Through a comparison of Germany with a big ‘structure’, we studied the most important milestones in the common Christian course in Germany, according to our view and personal experiences. These chapters unfold the interrelation and the interweaving of the difference between the two groups and an attempt is made for the interpretation of reality.

In the conclusions, through a subjective approach, we recapitulate the main points of the dialogue/response between the two groups and we study their interactive relations through the recognition and projection of the common points; we also clarify the quality elements in this interaction from an orthodox point of view. Lastly, we research the possibility of the creation of a common Christian perception in Germany and at the same time we underline the advantages and disadvantages of such a venture.

First Chapter

1. The Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD)

The Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD)[19] consists of a community of 22 independent evangelical-protestant Churches, of Lutheran[20], reformed[21] and united[22] confession. All these are products of the Reformation,[23] which began in Germany in 1517, when in 31 October, Martin Luther composed his 95 theses, which he postedat the entrance of the cathedral church ofWittenberg, and completed in 1648 with the signing of the Westphalian Treaty[24]. The main protagonists of the religious reformation[25] were Martin Luther,[26] John Calvin[27] and Zwingli.[28] All member churches share a limitless ‘pulpit exchange’[29] as well as ‘eucharistic communion’[30], despite their denominational differences. The central offices of the EKD are in Hanover. It supports the Conference of European Churches (CEC/Konferenz europäischer Kirchen-ΚΕΚ),[31] of which is a member, along with other protestant, Anglican and orthodox churches. It is also a member of the Consortium of ChristianChurches (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen-ACK)[32], while all its members participate at the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (Gemeinschaft EvangelischerKircheninEuropa-GEKE)[33] and the World Council of Churches-WCC[34].

EKD was founded at 1945 and acquired legal status at 1948. When the EKD was established, all 22 Church – members were incorporated under an institutional framework. Organization and structure at all levels follows the German federal political system. The governing bodies of EKD, which are elected democratically, are the Synod[35], the Council[36] and the Church Conference[37]. These three higher bodies are accountable for all responsibilities and services that are provided for at the ecclesiastical constitution, namely the principal rule, of EKD[38]. The responsibility and the coordination of the proceedings of the Synod, the Council and the Church Conference, are undertaken by the Church administrative office[39]. Apart from the commissioners for special issues, inter-denominational, ecumenical, inter-religional, social and diplomatic relations, the position of the commissioner at the Federal Government of Germany and the European Union is of high importance. 24,515 millions of people or else 29,9% of the total population of Germany are members of EKD[40]. At 2009 the number of members of EKD is slightly smaller than the number of the members of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. The majority of evangelical Protestants resides in northern Germany.

Between 1852 and 1903 there were frequent meetings between the administrative representatives of Germany at the so-called ‘Eisenach Conference’[41], but this did not lead to a stable and unifying organization. In 1922 the ‘German Evangelical Church Confederation’ was founded, consisting of the 28 evangelical Churches of the German Empire[42]. In 1933, under the influence of the National Socialism, the ‘Evangelical Church in Germany’ was founded, with a future aim of creating a united ‘Imperial Church’[43]. The majority in the Evangelical Church of Germany were the so-called ‘German Christians’[44], who had clearly a friendly attitude towards the Nazi regime. The local churches were administrated mainly by ‘German Christians’ during this period. There were, however, three churches that were exemptions: the churches of Wittenberg, Bavaria and Hanover[45]. These ones resisted the regime and the pressure of the ‘German Christians’ and thus were persecuted and restricted. Ludwig Müller[46], a fanatic national socialist, was elected bishop of the Reich. In 1934 the ‘Confessing Church’[47] was formed as the opposite to the Evangelical Church in German, whose most important representatives were Martin Niemöller[48], Karl Barth[49] and Dietrich Bonhoeffer[50]. After the end of Second World War, the most important ecclesiastical figures under the guidance of parish bishop of the church of Wittenberg, Theophil Wurm[51] undertook a new initiative to unite the various evangelical churches. Thus, in 1945 the ‘Evangelical Church in Germany-EKD’ was established, at the framework of a meeting of the evangelical churches in Treysa of Hesse (now Schwalmstadt). On the 13th of July 1948, following many struggles, the basic rule was signed in Eisenach.

Despite the partition of Germany and the creation of two Germanies the EKD had a uniform character and administration, at least until 1961 when, with the erection of the Berlin Wall and the blockage of the borders, transport was made difficult and therefore the communication and organization of a uniform administration was affected. So, in 1969 the ‘the League ofEvangelical Churchesin the German Democratic Republic’[52] was founded. It consisted of the 8 evangelical churches of eastern Germany and was independent from the EKD. Following the reunification of the two Germanies in 1990/91, the League ofEvangelical Churchesin the German Democratic Republic was also reunited with the EKD.

In the summer of 2006 the Committee of the EKD published a text entitled ‘The Church of freedom’. That was a polling of the current state of the EKD and aimed to trigger a process of a total ‘reform’ of the church. The alarming and usually dramatic decrease in the number of members started to restrict significantly the once multi-faceted at every level (social, political, cultural, missionary, humanitarian etc) activities of the EKD. The discussions about redefining the role of the EKD in contemporary Germany have not yet been completed.

In the circles of the EKD a wide range of theological views, ranging from highly liberal to conservative, can be found. Depending on the church member the Denominations are Lutheran, reformed or united. Common and binding for all church members are the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, that is the Creed of the First Council of Nicaea, with or without the addition of Filioque. The ordination of women and homosexuals is acceptable and legal in all member churches. The blessing of marriages between homosexuals is possible in nine out of 22 churches, provided that there is an agreement of the pastor and the ecclesiastical committee of the parish[53]. The Church Administration Office of the EKD stated in a circular non-binding for the local churches, that the pastor who has signed a cohabitation agreement with his/her partner (in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship) can stay in a parish house, if this is according to the legal provisions of the local church and acceptable by the parish committee[54]. Following a renewed research and study of the issue of ‘creationism’[55], the EKD declared that it does not agree with this theory. It emphasizes though the importance of the faith in Creation, at least in the frame of school education[56].

The Synod of the EKD is the administrative and legislative body of the EKD. It convenes once annually for a week. It is summoned periodically from one member church and each time at a different German city. It consists of 120 members. The 100 members come from the synods of the local 22 churches, while 20 are appointed each time by the Council of the EKD. The latter are chosen on the basis of their special contribution to the life, work and service of the EKD. For every member of the Synod two replacements are determined.

Moreover eight young members (under the age of 30) take part in the Synod, four of which are chosen from the Evangelical Youth Association[57], two from the Evangelical Student Community[58] and two from the Student Mission in Germany[59]. The Synod of the EKD is run by the presiding committee, the head of which is the ecclesiastical president (Präses). The presiding committee is elected for a period of 6 years. Since 2009 Präses is Ms. Katrin Göring-Eckardt[60].

The Council of the EKD is its governing body. It consists of 15 members. The 15th member is, upon his/her election, the President. The rest are elected jointly by the Synod and the Church Conference. The Synod and the Church Conference elect again from these 14 members a president for six years[61]. To these, as mentioned earlier, the President of the Synod is added as a 15th member[62]. The president of the Council of the EKD is the official representative and main responsible for the EKD[63].

The Commissioner of the Council of the EKD at the German Federal Republic (BRD) and the European Union (ΕU) is the diplomatic link of the EKD with the political and constitutional bodies of the BRD and the EU. On the one hand, he collects and delivers information to EKD and, on the other hand, he presents the concerns and interests of the Church to the relevant state and European departments. At the same time he defends the weak, creates appropriate links with official ecclesiastical services and organizations, and represents EKD at every level. He is based at the EKD building in Berlin. This position currently is held by pastor Mr. Bernhard Felmberg, while head of the office in Brussels is Ms. Katrin Hatzinger, a member of the Council.

The Church Conference is the federal advisory and administrative body of the EKD. It processes and co-ordinates the proposals of the bodies of the EKD and of the member churches or proposes issues for consideration. The smaller churches (which have less than 2.000 members) have one vote, while the bigger ones have two. A representative of the Moravian Church (Herrnhuter Brüdergemeinde) participates also at the Church Conference.[64] The Ecclesiastical Courts form the constitutional court of the EKD, as well as the ecclesiastical courts of the first and second instance.

The boundaries of the local churches[65] are formed mainly by the political boundaries of the states/sovereign states of 1815 and do not usually correspond with the contemporary boundaries of the federal or free states. The member churches are:

- Εvangelische Landeskirche Anhalts-at the centre of Saxony-Anhalt[66]
- Evangelische Landeskirche in Baden-at the western Baden-Württemberg[67]
- Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern-in Bavaria[68]
- Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz-in Berlin,

Brandenburg, at the southeast Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and at the northeast Saxony[69] – founded in January 2004 by the merger of:

- Evangelische Kirche in Berlin-Brandenburg
- Evangelische Kirche der schlesischen Oberlausitz
- Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche in Braunschweig-in Lower Saxony with annexes in southeast of Niedersachsen Blankenburg (Harz) and Calvörde[70]

Bremische Evangelische Kirche-in Bremen[71]

Evangelisch-lutherische Landeskirche Hannovers-in large areas of Lower Saxony and in Bremerhaven[72]

Evangelische Kirche in Hessen und Nassau-in middle and south Hesse and in Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinhessen και Nassau)[73] -founded originally in 1934 and refounded in 1945/46 through the merger of former churches:

- Evangelische Landeskirche in Hesse
- Evangelische Landeskirche in Nassau
- Evangelische Landeskirche of Frankfurt

Evangelische Kirche von Kurhessen-Waldeck-in north and east Hesse and an annex in south Thuringia (Schmalkalden)[74] -founded in 1934 by the merger of:

- Evangelische Landeskirche in Hesse-Kassel
- Evangelische Landeskirche in Waldeck

Lippische Landeskirche-in north east North Rhine-Westphalia[75]

Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Mecklenburgs-in west Mecklenburg-Vorpommern[76]

Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland-in Saxony-Anhalt and in Thuringia[77] – founded on the 1st of January 2009 by the merger of:

- Evangelische Kirche of the ecclesiastical province of Saxony
- Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Thuringia

Nordelbische Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche-in Hanover and Schleswig-Holstein[78] -founded in 1977 by the merger of:

- Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in the state of Hamburg
- Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Lübeck
- Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Schleswig-Holstein
- Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Eutin

Kirchenkreis Harburg der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Landeskirche Hannovers

Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Oldenburg-in north west Lower Saxony[79]

Evangelische Kirche der Pfalz (Protestantische Landeskirche)-in south Rhineland-Palatinate and east Saarland[80]

Pommersche Evangelische Kirche-in north east Mecklenburg-Vorpommern[81]

Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche[82] (Evangelical Reformed Church)

Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland-in west North Rhine-Westphalia, west Rhineland-Palatinate and west Saarland, with an annex in middle Hesse (Wetzlar)[83]

Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Sachsens-in large areas of Saxony[84]

Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Schaumburg-Lippe-in middle Lower Saxony[85]

Evangelische Kirche von Westfalen – in east North Rhine-Westphalia[86]

Evangelische Landeskirche in Württemberg-in east Baden-Württemberg[87]

Churches that co-operate with the EKD:

Bund Evangelisch-reformierter Kirchen Deutschlands[88]

Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine

The Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Mecklenburgs, Nordelbische Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche and Pommersche Evangelische Kirche decided to unite in 2012 into one Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Norddeutschland[89].

Autonomous coalitions of church-members of EKD

Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands (VELKD)[90]

Union Evangelischer Kirchen (UEK)[91]

Konföderation evangelischer Kirchen in Niedersachsen[92]

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the EKD participates in many organizations, has institutions and a variety of work sections[93]. The entire coordination is performed by the ‘The Conference of ecclesiastical agencies and associations’ (KKWV).

2. The United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD)

VELKD (Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands - United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany -VELKD)[94] is the union of eight local Lutheran Churches in Germany. It was founded on the 8th of July 1948 in Eisenach as a successor organization to Rat der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche Deutschlands – The Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Germany (or else Lutherrat) and nowadays it comprises of around 10.000.000 members. Its aim is to reinforce and guard the unity of Lutheranism. The base of its dogmatic teaching is formed by Luther’s Small Catechism and the unchanged Confessio Augustana. It was created by ten out of thirteen Lutheran local churches (Bayern, Braunschweig, Hamburg, Hannover, Lübeck, Mecklenburg, Sachsen, Schaumburg-Lippe, Schleswig-Holstein, Thüringen). The local churches of Eutin, Oldenburg and Württemberg did not become its members. Its headquarters are located in Hannover. Today its members are: Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern, Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche in Braunschweig, Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Hannovers, Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Mechklenburgs, Nordelbische Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche, Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Sachsens, Evangelisch-Lutherische Lamdeskirche Schaumburg-Lippe, Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Thüringen. In 1977 three of the initial ten members (Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche im Hamburgischen Staate, Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Lübeck Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Schleswig-Holstein) were united and formed the Nordelbische Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche[95]. Since then only two lutheran local churches are not full members of VELKD, but they participate as guests in the meetings: the Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Oldenburg and the Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Württemberg. Moreover, two evangelical local churches of the ‘Evangelical Church of the Union’ (EKU) do not belong to VELKD, even though they include in their jurisdiction some purely lutheran eccleciastical communities. The latter however participate in the the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) (Lutherischer Weltbund-LWB). The German National Committee of the Lutheran World federation (Deutsches Nationalkomitee des Lutherischen Weltbundes) is based at the main administration offices of VELKD in Hannover. Besides, due to theological reasons, the following autonomous Lutheran churches do not belong to VELKD and LWF: Evangelish-Lutherische Kirche in Baden[96], Evangelisch-Lutherische Freikirche (ELFK), Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK). The last one has been engaged in theological dialogue with VELKD in recent years. Local Lutheran churches, free churches and single ecclesiastical communities have the opportunity to become members of VELKD.

VELKD focuses on theological work, the formation of the individual services and the liturgical life, the organisation of the communities and the ecumenical movement. Its administrative instruments are the ‘Church Council’, and the ‘Bishops’ Conference’, whose head is the ‘ruling bishop’, and the ‘General Synod’. All three bodies are responsible for the works and organization of VELKD. The ‘Church Council’ is consisted of the ruling bishop, who is also the president, his substitute, one more member of the ‘Bishops’ Conference’, the president of the ‘General Synod’ and nine more members that are elected by the members of the General Synod and its substitutes. The ‘Church Council’ convenes six times per year. The ‘ruling bishop’ is elected by the members of the General Synod for a period of three years. Re-election is possible. He is the highest spiritual clergyman of VELKD and has the right to officiate and preach in every parish of the member churches, and also to send out pastoral circulars. Furthermore, he is the president of the German National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation. Until the end of the 1960s, churches of both Germanies belonged to VELKD. Due to the difficult circumstances they separated and reunited again in 1991. In the intermediate period VELKD had its own bishop and administrative bodies in East Germany. The ‘Bishops’ Conference’ consists of fifteen members. All bishops of the individual member churches belong to it along with five ordained members in administrative positions. The ruling bishop is the president of the Bishops’ Conference. It assembles twice per year. Among other duties, it publishes decisions related to canon law, the church rules and services, and the rules that are subject to state law.

The ‘General Synod’ is the legislative body of VELKD. It is formed every six years and as a rule has a regular meeting once a year. It consists of 62 members, 54 of which are elected from the local synods of the member churches. The remaining members are appointed by the ruling bishop. At the head of the General Synod there is a presiding board which is elected during the meeting. The first member of the presiding board is called president of the ‘General Synod’. Apart from the ‘Central Administration’ located in Hanover, VELKD includes the following institutions:

- Constitutional and administrative court in Hanover
- Disciplinary Council in Hanover
- Council of church parishes in Celle
- Theology Seminary in Pullach
- Institute of liturgical sciences in Leipzig
- Council of quotes[97] in Hanover.

VELKD is, as a rule, open to ecumenical, interdenominational and interfaith dialogue and is a member of the Working Committee of Christian Churches (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen - ACK) at a federal and regional level. VELKD is a member of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) and since 1998 undertook to clarify the issue of ordination, mainly in relation to the general priesthood of all baptised people. For this task it applied evangelical understanding, acting for the EKD. The text was presented at the Bishops’ Conference in October 2005 and was forwarded to the EKD for further consideration. The theological committee that processed the text worked on the following issues, among others: ‘Filioque-Nicene Creed 381’, ‘Communio sanctorum’, ‘the Confessio Augustana as a symbol of confession in EKD’[98].

The ‘Church Council’ appoints every three years a commissioner for the relations with the Roman Catholic Church, who communicates mainly with the German Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church and presents the development of the relations of VELKD with the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the internal developments in the Roman Catholic Church itself, in a lengthy report before the General Synod. These reports are taken seriously into consideration, they are discussed and commented upon in the synod and they define the further relations of the other churches. The reports are sent to the Lutheran World Federation. The work group that is formed in situ over the past years focuses on the evaluation of the study ‘Church and the doctrine of justification’. The aim of the work is to find out to what extent the dialogue in the international committee for the joint declaration[99] has borne fruit, in relation to the relations of the other churches at a local level. On the other side, the Lutheran World Federation is informed about which questions still await an answer and which issues are put aside for future discussion. With the ‘joint declaration on the doctrine of justification’ the relations have improved undoubtedly, although much is still left to be done. At the same time the findings of the study are taken seriously, so that they form a base for future developments in ecclesiastical issues.

One of the main problems in the dogmatic dialogues of recent years, highlighted by the work group, is that the Churches are unable to come close to one another at a systematic-theological level, because both sides present the justified differences that exist. Moreover, the views on various issues are expressed in traditional language and theological forms, which were developed during the separation period and vary between the churches, thus making communication difficult. It is important that commonly accepted ways of thinking, writing and expression should be explored. Pope Benedict’s XVI encyclical ‘Deus caritas est’ offers, according to the work team’s view, enough motives for an improvement in the understanding between each other. Moreover, an effort is made that the dialogue deviates from the spirit of ecclesiastical-political negotiations, in which the question of whether one or the other side has made more or less concessions is always set and as a result the dialogue stagnates and an atmosphere of mistrust prevails. It would be preferable for the dialogue to focus on interdenominational theological issues that are timely, so that every possible disagreement would be treated through a different prism. The slogan ‘Ecumene of profiles’ created much insecurity and in the future should focus on the joint pursuit of common targets and other profiles of faith. Aside from the investigation of the dogmatic differences it is necessary for other ways of achieving communion to be examined. The common participation in public events, like the opening of the World Cup Championship in Munich, should be an integral point of the bilateral relations in every level. The society of the churches needs signs of successful spiritual communication, through which mutual trust would be strengthened, revived and publicly visible. The dialogue demands a universally acceptable linguistic culture, which would be defined only by christian love for the neighbour, especially at critical circumstances of dispute in dogmatic issues. Finally, what is required are readiness and willingness to help each other in the common confrontation of the challenges presented to Christ’s Church by modern societies. The work team takes special care, so that the parishioners and the church communities of both denominations are informed and co-operate.

The above views of VELKD are also served by the project for the ecumenical spirituality entitled ‘Lutheran spirituality in the ecumenical community’. The work team prepares a publication of a manual, at which the special spiritual character of Lutheranism will be exposed in order to become known to the other denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, and for common prejudices to be eliminated. The texts will be relevant to issues vital for the Lutheran spirituality: Eucharist, Christening, Bible, blessing, prayer, glorifying song, temptation, daily church service. This way the work team relates to the meetings of the Bishop’s conference and the General Synod for the annual issue (Prayer: Centre of spirituality) of VELKD for 2005. The manual is addressed mainly to church members and groups that are interested in ecumenical issues. So far the biannual organization of an ecumenical educational seminar for evangelical pastors (men and women) and Roman Catholic priests, and their colleagues in the pastoral work, has been a success[100]. This is organised under the auspices of both the ecclesiastical administration of VELKD and the German Council of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. Apart from the elaboration of theological issues of each side separately, a joint assessment is attempted and the exchange of personal views and experiences in pastoral issues. The joint services, the mutual knowledge, the realization that there are many mutual problems but also mutual ideas are very helpful in the tightening of the relations of the churches at a parish – ecclesiastical community level.

3. The German Bishops’ Conference – GBC

The first Conference of the Roman Catholic Bishops took place in 1848 in Würzburg. In 1867 the Roman Catholic bishops convened in Fulda, where the relics of Saint Boniface were buried. Since then this place has become an institution, and passed in history as the Bishops’ Conference of Fulda. The successor of this conference is essentially the GBC[101], as the union of all Roman Catholic bishops of the Roman Catholic Bishoprics in Germany[102] with 69 members from the 27 dioceses of Germany.[103] The Secretariat of the GBC is based in Bonn, whereas the standing delegation of the GBC to Federal Government is based in Berlin. President of the GBC is currently the Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch.

The GBC is the meetings of the Roman Catholic bishops of the local churches (dioceses/archdiocese/metropolises) of Germany, which aims to study and promote the mutual pastoral tasks, the mutual information, the necessary coordination of the ecclesiastical task, the mutual common stance towards issues that concern the Roman Catholics of Germany as a whole, as well as the maintenance of contact with Bishop’s Conferences abroad[104].

The GBC is founded on the edict of the Second Vatican Council (1965) ‘Christus Dominus’[105] and has been institutionalized with the new ecclesiastical codex of 1983[106] (cc. 447-459 CIC)[107]. It is a member of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (ConsiliumConferentiarum Episcoporum Europae - CCEE)[108] and the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (Commissio Episcopatum Communitatis Europensis - COMECE)[109]. The articles 36 to 38 of the edict ‘Christus Dominus’[110] have established the bodies of the Bishops’ Conference: the plenary assembly, the standing council, the president and the episcopal commissions for the consideration of specific issues.

The highest body of GBC is the Plenary Assembly of the members. It comprises of provincial bishops, assistants, vicars, auxiliary bishops and titular bishops with specific responsibilities. The leaders of the catholic churches that follow a different rite than the Latin one but have the same status act as advisory members, whereas the apostolic nuncio joins the assembly occasionally. The nuncio however, has only advisory and supervisory role, with no right of voting. The responsibilities of the Plenary Assembly include among others the election of the president and the members of the chair members, as well as the publication of the bulletins and the decrees. The decisions are taken with a majority of 2/3 of the votes of the body. Twice a year the members meet for four days. The meeting in spring occurs at various places, whereas in autumn it always takes place in Fulda.

At the Permanent Council all 27 (arch-)dioceses are represented through their official representative ( bishop) or their representative (bishop) or his substitute. Since 1979 it awards annually the ‘catholic prize for children and youth’ on behalf of GBC according to a proposal made by a nine member committee.

The president has to be a provincial bishop and is elected for a 6 year tenure. It is possible for him to be re-elected through a secret voting, if he collects two-thirds of the votes. He directs the Plenary Assembly and the Permanent Council, and prepares the agendas to be discussed taking into account the requests of the members and the committees. He represents the GBC in the whole of Germany, though he is bound by the decisions of the Conference, and takes a stance on theological and dogmatic issues, as well as matters related to the cultural, political and social life of the country. His primary concern is to rally the catholic bishops and facilitate the communication between them and with the Universal Church, namely the other local Bishops’ Conferences, the Pope and, of course, the Vatican[111].

4. The Second Vatican Council

The twentieth century, with its deep spiritual changes, finds the Catholic Church in a course of inquiry[112][113]. It fights modernism[114] but at the same time it wants to be relevant[115]. It is concerned with the elation of nationalism, expressed through the two World Wars, while a few Catholic theologians and priests resist with sturdiness to the totalitarian regimes. Communism in Russia and other countries is treated with hostility[116]. The Ecumenical Movement[117], observed in the protestant world, does not let the Catholic Church untouched. It follows the dialogues that take place and approaches the protestant denominations and Orthodoxy.

The voices that call for renewal of the theological thinking and the liturgical life are beginning to be heard and after considerable internal agitation Pope John XXIII[118] decides to summon the Second Vatican Council. Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) is considered the most important pope of the 20th century, who has changed the tendency of introversion of the Roman Catholic Church and inaugurated the road to renewal. His prevailing characteristics were simplicity, love and consent. He was dear to the citizens of Rome, whom he would approach stressing that he was primarily the bishop of Rome and its citizens his direct flock. They remember him as’Good Pope John’ or ‘the father of the poor’. Despite all the objections of the Curia, he supported the idea of modernization and the adaptation of the evangelical truth to the current situation, the reconciliation with other churches, the ecumenical theological dialogue, the approach of the world religions and especially Judaism (he criticized severely the Curia’s anti-Semitic tendency and ordered all the anti-Semitic sentences to be erased from the liturgical texts), the contact with the countries of the eastern bloc, the international social justice, the human rights and the co-operation of the Pope with the bishops. His last encyclical ‘Pacem in terris’ (1963) is of supreme significance. It was written during the Council and is considered the essence of Pope John’s XXIII love for the man and peace. The new pastoral understanding of papacy is demonstrated in this encyclical.

On 11 October 1962 Pope John XXIII declares the beginning of the first session of the works. After four sessions of works, Pope Paul the VI declared the end of the Council on 8 December 1965. Around 2.500 Roman Catholics bishops participated in the Council. It was allowed to representatives of other churches and denominations to attend the Council as observers. From early on two trends dominated the Council. One was that of the conservatives and the other of the progressives. In fact for the first time is became clear that there were different views on the meaning of Church and Catholicism, which originated from the variety of origins of the bishops and the different circumstances of ecclesiastical life in the country where each one lived. As Pope Paul VI mentions in the apostolic epistle regarding the end of the Council, ‘it was the richest because of the questions which for four sessions have been discussed carefully and profoundly. And last of all it was the most opportune, because, bearing in mind the necessities of the present day, above all it sought to meet the pastoral needs and, nourishing the flame of charity, it has made a great effort to reach not only the Christians still separated from communion with the Holy See, but also the whole human family’[119].

The Council decided on the dogmatic provision about the Church (the sacrament of the Church, the people of God, the hierarchical structure of the Church and especially the society of the bishops, the lay of the Church, the sainthood as a call, the monasticism, the eschatological character of the Church in its worldly course and its unity with the heavenly Church, the Most Holly Mother of God in the sacrament of Christ and the Church)[120], the service and the life of the priests, the priests’ education, for Christian education[121], the missionary work of the Church, the missionary work of the lay, for the media[122], the Church in the contemporary world[123], the renewal of monasticism, the pastoral work of the bishops[124], Ecumenism, the other religions and religious freedom[125].

On December 7th of 1965 Pope Paul VI and the Metropolitan Meliton, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I, in a common festive declaration withdrew the anathemas of 1054 and ended, at least typically, the schism[126]. Finally the Council addressed messages[127] to humanity, political leaders, scientists and artists, women, workers, the poor, the sick and all those that suffer[128] and the youth[129].

5. Post Second Vatican Council Developments

Sixteen decrees[130] but essentially no dogmatic provision. This is briefly the outcome of the Council, which did not want to be an educational, but a reformative council with pastoral significance. The doctrines can be registered and simply published in dogmatic or instructive texts. The pastoral provisions of the council, however, have to be followed and become part of the everyday life. The Council with its pastoral provisions did not solve issues that the faithful face every day, but it simply highlighted them.

Already before the end of the council a number of papal committees were formed, that undertook to continue the work of the council and to materialize the relevant reforms. One committee for the reform of canon law, the council for the liturgical reform, the secretariat for the unity of Christians, the non-Christians and the atheists, and the committee for the media. The pope appointed six new post-council committees by his decree of January the 3rd of 1966, five of which were special and one central for the coordination of the whole post council works and the interpretation of the council provisions. The first five had to deal with the implementation of the provisions that had been put into effect, as of June 29th of 1966, on issues related to the bishops, the monastic orders, the missions, the Christian education and the lay movement of church. The central committee however was assigned the responsible and joint accomplishment of the works, the care for the authentic interpretation of the texts and the guarantee of a common line. Above all, it was responsible to prepare the publication and distribution of the texts of the council. As the texts were addressed not only to the clergy, but also to the people of the church, emphasis was laid on the accurate translation of the texts to many languages. The main object of the committee for canon law was to incorporate the provisions of the council to the current canon law, so that the current Canones des Codex Juris Canonici would keep up with the new circumstances.

All committees worked hard and in general were successfully in their effort to reach the targets of the council. More visible was the progress made in the section of the liturgical reform. The reform of the Divine Liturgy was almost revolutionary and scary for many Catholics, beginning with, as opposed to the conservative urge of the provision of the council, the prevalence of the use of the local languages, the popularization of the sacraments with the active participation of the lay during their performance and the weight of preaching. These led to objections some of which still exist. As a characteristic example we mention the movement ‘Una-Voce’, which exists up to now and advocates the use of Latin as a universal liturgical language.

Of great importance for the progress in the ecclesiastical structures was the announcement, even during the last session of the council, of a new formation of an episcopal body - synod, which would have an advisory role, supplement the supreme ecclesiastical administration and support actively Pope’s primacy. On September 29th of 1967 it convened for the first time in Rome and worked until October 28th on emerging post-council issues[131].

The end of the episcopal council was overshadowed, we would say, by the historic visit of to Vatican by Patriarch Athenagoras from October 26th until 28th of 1967[132]. The visit of the Patriach of the East strengthened the links between the two churches and was the third in line meeting of the Pope and the Patriarch, after their meetings in Jerusalem (January 4th to 6th of 1964) and Istanbul (July 25th of 1967). The meeting and the theological dialogue of the ‘truth’[133], which followed, was driven by ‘a spirit of faith to the truth and the mutual understanding of the real desire to set aside the hatred of the past, as well as every kind of spiritual or ecclesiastical dominance’[134]. The return of the holy skull of Apostle Andrew to the Orthodox Church the same year was a sign of the willingness to strengthen the relations and possibly move to the reunification of the churches in the future.

By the end of the Second Vatican Council the Roman Catholic Church faced many problems. The application of the decisions of the council was it danger to be influenced by progressive spirits. Decisions of the Council were misinterpreted according to the so-called ‘spirit of the Council’. Theologians disputed valid issues of faith, while many groups of faithful were in confusion. The developments within the church overcame the Council, which was blamed by many to have delayed. Circles that could influence the media demanded, for example, the sacramental character of the service of repentance instead of the sacrament of confession, and permission for those married for a second time to take part in holy communion. Moreover, they wished that non- Roman Catholics could participate in the holy communion and Roman Catholics could take part in the Eucharist of the protestants.

The negative results of pluralism in theology and evangelism were expressed by the reduction of the number of people joining the Sunday service, the increase in the number of priests and monks who abandoned the church and were defrocked, the increase of mixed weddings and the phenomenon of religious indifference[135].

In 1966 Pope Paul VI invited all bishops that had completed the seventy fifth year of age to resign. The parallel simple advice of the Council to set an age limit for the bishops had become obligatory under the code 401 of the Contex Juris Canonici. The reorganization of the roman Curia followed In 1967. The secretariat of the Vatican City State undertook the coordination of the works of the individual committees. Even the Sancto Officio came under the secretariat with the name ‘Committee for matters of faith’. Beside the work of Curia were placed the Bishops’ Conference and the Lay Committee. The Bishops’ Conference evolved to a central ecclesiastical institution representing the whole of the bishops throughout the world and became a permanent institution as an advisory body, which convenes after invitation. Its basic target is the reinforcement of the collaboration between the Pope and the bishops. Its decisions presuppose papal approval. The body of the cardinals, although it increased in number, no longer consisted in its majority by European cardinals and lost significantly its influence. In 1970 the Pope decided that the cardinals lose the right to participate in the election of a new pope, if they have completed the eightieth year of age. A new regulation for the process of pope’s election took effect on October the 1st of 1975. The national and local councils of the bishops were granted significant power. After the Second Vatican Council they evolved to strong local associations between the bishops and the apostolic seat.

6. The Ecumenical Movement

The essence of the term ‘Ecumene’ calls for a united world Church. Its model is the undivided early Christian Church. Indeed, the ‘Charta Oecumenica’[136] states as an ‘Ecumenical Apostolic Creed’ that of Nicaea- Constantinople, namely that of the First Ecumenical Council in 381 A.D., when it says: ‘As we confess ... in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ... we consider to be our mission to make this unity visible’. The Charta Oecumenica recognizes that there are substantial differences in faith that impede the visible unity, especially in ecclesiastical communication issues, holy sacraments and priesthood. However, it gives the impression that these issues are of secondary importance and they could be solved through good will and willingness to reconcile. As a statement it is wonderful, but the experience so far shows that it is difficult, if not almost impossible, to achieve. The initial enthusiasm for the ecumenical movement has slowed down today. We shall, however, present the course of both the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism in the Ecumenical Movement.

6.1. The Ecumenical Movement and the Roman Catholic Church

Today the Ecumenical Movement is inconceivable without the Roman Catholic Church. Initially, however, Rome rejected to participate in the ecumenical movement, because the latter does not agree with the teaching of the RC church. It has, nevertheless, changed its attitude because of the flow of developments and approached the Christian Ecumene. Following the establishment of the ‘secretariat for the support of the unity of the Christians’ in 1960, a change of climate was visible, even if tentatively, in the participation in theological dialogues and ecumenical conferences, in meetings with representatives of Christian churches, in papal visits and receptions of representatives of other churches and denominations. At the end of the Second Vatican Council a common work group was established between the Vatican and the World Council of Churches (WCC). In many countries official dialogues started between Roman Catholics and protestants. The RC church, however, has not become a member of the WCC yet. It remains an observer who only co-operates with the WCC in the Section ‘Faith and order’[137].

The culmination of the ecumenical moves of the RC church was in the first place the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council[138] and also the Pope’s participation in the World Council of Churches in the summer of 1984, while earlier the Pope had visited and preached in one Evangelical church in Rome. Moreover, a the following events have led the RC church to work on a wide range of ecumenical and social issues: the invitation to a joint prayer of all the religions for the world peace in Assisi in 1986 and thereafter, the participation with an official delegation to the fifth world council of WCC in 1995, the signing of the Joint Declaration with the Lutherans on the Doctrine of Justification, the active participation in the second Conference of European Churches in Graz in 1997 with 10.000 participants[139] and in 2007 in Sibiu of Romania.

At a lay level the ecumenical movement made and still makes a great impression. The meeting of the denominations went its own way defying theological and ecclesiastical differences, especially between RC and evangelicals, and is usually dominated by the love towards our neighbour and the internominational active offer to the social work. The objective agreement with the Orthodox Church on faith issues is, however, overshadowed by the papal primacy and Unia. The relations with the Anglican Church focus on the removal of the differences regarding the preaching with focal points on the Eucharist, the Apostolic succession, the papal primacy and infallibility. In fact in 1999 it seemed that priority was given to finding a solution regarding the papal primacy. The encyclical Ut unum sint of the 25th of May of 1995 sounds like a testament[140]. On one hand, the Pope emphasizes what he believes, that Christ’s Church is visible as the body of the one holy Catholic Church, on the other hand he stresses that even outside the church there are ways of salvation and truth. The service of the bishop of Rome to the unity is Christ’s will. Starting from this fundamental quote the Pope calls on everyone to co-operate for the unity of the church. The success of course depends on the degree of true repentance of both the clergy and the people, acknowledging that all have sinned towards the unity. A the same time he calls on bishops and theologians to co-operate in order to find a formula for the practice of the papal primacy, in such a way that it will not be reproached in its essence, but would be adjusted to the current situation. This is a difficult work to be done and a big challenge that cannot be rejected, but nor the Pope can find a solution by himself. The interpretation of the primacy of honour, based on the fathers of the Church, is of no interest to the RC church. Moreover, the RC Church in an attempt to take a theological stance towards the Ecumenical movement and the deviations caused by the Joint Declaration for the salvation of the man, which had been signed with the Association of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches, published the text Dominus Iesus with a possible aim to deliver a telling blow to Protestantism. It states in it that ‘Christ’s church exists fully only in the Catholic Church’ and in the best of chances ‘the other churches could be recognized only as ecclesiastical communities’[141].


i The information is from 2003 and it is expected that Christians will be reduced by 30% until 2020 following the continuous withdrawal from the church registers due to financial reasons or reasons of consciousness (members of the official Churches have to pay them 8-10% of their gross income). See the following footnotes.

ii The numbers refer to Evangelicals and Roman Catholics. The statistics for Orthodox are certainly better. E.g. to the 7,500 Greek Orthodox in Frankfurt correspond 98 baptisms in 2007.

iii Source: Frankfurter statistische Berichte. See Berichte und Analysen. Dr. Karl H. Asemann, Frankfurt am Main: Die veränderte Gesellschaft und die Religion(pdf), p. 79 and pp. 95-157: sixcms/detail.php?id=3878&_ffmpar%5B_id_eltern%5D=2811 (24.10.2010).

[1] Henceforth abbreviated as EKD.

[2] Henceforth abbreviated as RCC.

[3] Reinhard Frieling, Katholisch und evangelisch, in: Bensheimer Hefte Nr.: 46, Informationen über den Glauben, Bensheim 20079, pp. 10-12.

[4] Op. cit., p. 13.

[5] Op. cit.

[6] Op. cit.

[7] Op. cit., p. 16 and 19.

[8] Op. cit., p. 25.

[9] Op. cit., p. 62.

[10] Op. cit., p. 80.

[11] Op. cit., p. 16.

[12] Op. cit., p. 20.

[13] Op. cit., p. 26.

[14] Op. cit., p. 35.

[15] Op. cit., p. 63.

[16] Op. cit., pp. 81-84.

[17] Henceforth: GBH.

[18] Henceforth: VELKD.

[19] H.Brunotte, Die EKD. Geschichte, Organisation und Gestalt der EKD, Gütersloh 1964, Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie 10 (1982), pp. 656-677. See the sources at the Bibliography.

[20] The Evangelical Lutheran Churches were founded on the basis of the Denominations of Luther and Melanchthon. Their theology, apart from the Scriptures, is based on the ancient Symbols of Fauth (Eastern, Athanasian and Nicene/Constantinopolitan), the AugsburgConfession (Confessio Augustana), the Apologyof the AugsburgConfession, on Luther’sSmall and LargeCatechism, on the SmalcaldArticles (Schmalkaldische Artikel) by Luther and partially on the Formula Concordiae. Their basic theological thought is consisted of four principles: sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura, solus Christus. The bibliography is rich. We single out the following items, which we studied for our history of the reformation. See also the Sources in the Bibliography:

Jörg Baur, Luther und die Bekenntnisschriften, in: Einsicht und Glaube Bd.2, Aufsätze, Göttingen 1994, pp.44-56, Vilmos Vajta, Die evangelisch-lutherische Kirche: Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, Frankfurt/M 1983, in: Die Kirchen der Welt, vol. 15, pp. 422-438, Robert Stupperich, Die Reformation in Deutschland, Gütersloh 31988, pp. 15-210, H. Immenkötter und G. Wenz (edd.), Im Schatten der Confessio Augustana. Die Religionsverhandlungen des Augsburger Reichstages 1530 im historischen Kontext, Münster 1997, pp. 10-223.

[21] The Reformed Church owes a lot to the activity of UlricusZuinglius, Heinrich Bullinger, Johannes Oekolampad, Martin Bucer in Zurich and of John Calvin, Guillaume Farel, Theodor Beza in Geneva. The major german speaking theological texts of the Reformed Church of the 16th century is the SecondHelvetic Confession (Zweites Helvetisches Bekenntnis) and the Heidelberg Catechism (Heidelberger Katechismus or Catechesis Palatina), which presents the two different directions: on the one hand the ecclesiastic-political of Zuinglius and, on the other, the biblical ecclesiastical order and hierarchy of Calvin.

See: H. Bullinger, Das zweite Helvetische Bekenntnis. Confesio Helvetica Posterior, at: (12.12.2009).

[22] The term “United Churches” refers to the unification of different protestant Churches/Confessions (Unierte Kirchen). Lutheranism and the reformed/Calvinist branch of the Reformation, having different beginnings and essential differences in their theologies, remained distant for three centuries, despite any attempts for rapprochement. In the 19th century, under the influence of the Enlightenment and following the financial difficulties due to the Napoleonic wars, some Evangelical Churched of Germany, form unions. The unions are mainly forced from above, that is the Prussian aristocracy, or in very few cases are the results of lay initiatives. Especially during the time of the ethnic socialism, in opposition to a great part of the official Evangelical Church which agrees with Hitler’s ideas and forms the Church of the “German Christians”, the major theological differences are set aside and weight is given to the term “Evangelical” Church. The Unions are either administrative or confessional. The main unionist/confessional text is the TheologicalDeclarationof Barmen (Barmer Theologische Erklärung) in 1934, while one of the major theologians is Karl Barth. See: J.Rogge, Der Weg einer Kirche. Die EKU 1817-1995: Jahrbuch für schlesische Kirchengeschichte 75(1996), pp. 227-244, Helmut Heiber, Universität unterm Hakenkreuz. Teil 1: Der Professor im Dritten Reich. Bilder aus der akademischen Provinz. K.G. Saur, München 1991. pp.156−162, also available at:, (12.12.2009).

[23] Heiko Obermann, Die Reformation. Von Wittenberg nach Genf, Göttingen 1986, pp. 15-295.

[24] Westfälischer Friede. The full text of the treaty: Pax Westphalica, at: (28.09.2008). Cf. also: Westfälische Geschichte, at: (29.09.2009), Link Christoph, Die Bedeutung des Westfälischen Friedens in der deutschen Verfassungsentwicklung. Zum 350-jährigen Jubiläum eines Reichsgrundgesetzes, in: JZ 1998, pp 1-9, Wolf Manfred, Das 17. Jahrhundert. In: Wilhelm Kohl (Edd.), Westfälische Geschichte. VOL. 1, Düsseldorf 1983 (Veröffentlichungen der Historischen Kommission für Westfalen, XLIII), pp. 537–685 and p. 561, Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Volume 35, pp. 679-686, Berlin 2003.

[25] The movements of Renaissance humanism and Biblicism played a decisive role as preconditions for the Reformation. Biblicism is understood as occupation with and study of the Scriptures. Already before the Reformation one finds biblical movements, such as the Devotio moderna, Occamism, and Christian humanism. Humanism changed the foundations of medieval Education and Science, mainly with the widely spread translations (in various languages) of sources unknown to the West and of a philosophical system and philosophical methods constantly and positively developed. The study of ancient texts reveals the search of moral and aesthetic values beyond the Christian ones. With Humanism, science and education are not anymore a privilege of the church and its clergy. The standardized logical method of Dialectics, based on Latin, is replaced by a vigorous philological work on the Grammar of various languages. The traditional treatment of metaphysical problems gives way to the search of practical and moral ways of life. History is not anymore a distant reference to the past, but is promoted to science. In England, humanism is developed into a deeply pietistic Christian humanism, through John Fisher, Thomas Morus and John Colet, and their intensive work on the Scriptures and its original languages. The main representative of Renaissance humanism in Germany wasErasmus of Rotterdam. Occam’s views are cited in his main works: Quaestiones et decisiones και Centiloquium. See: August Franzen, Kleine Kirchengeschichte, Freiburg-Basel-Wien, 6 2000, pp. 243-249, E. Meuthen, Charakter und Tendenzen des deutschen Humanismus, in Säkulare Aspekte der Reformationszeit, ed. by H.Angermeier, München-Wien 1983, pp. 217-266. Cf. also August Franzen, Kleine Kirchengeschichte, Freiburg-Basel-Wien, 6 2000, pp. 249-257.

[26] Graf von Krockow Christian, Porträts berühmter deutscher Männer. Von Martin Luther bis zur Gegenwart, München2001, pp. 11–56, Adolf v. Harnack, Martin Luther und die Grundlegung der Reformation, Berlin 1917, pp. 5-64, Peter Meinhold, Zeit-und Kirchenkritik beim jungen Luther, Der Ansatz des reformatorischen Denkens und Handelns in seiner Theologie, Wiesbaden 1977, pp. 9-51.

[27] See: Ernst Pfisterer, Calvins Wirken in Genf, Neukirchen Kreis Moers 1957, pp. 13-142, Joachim Staedtke, Johannes Calvin, Zürich-Frankfurt 1969, pp. 9-112, H. Weber, Die Theologie Calvins. Ihre innere Systematik im Lichte struktur-psychologischer Forschungsmethode, Berlin 1930, pp. 1-63, Wilhelm Niesel, Die Theologie Calvins, München 1957, pp. 9-248, Bernhard Buschbeck, Johannes Calvin (1509-1564). In: Henning Schröer / Dietrich Zilleßen (edd.), Klassiker der Religionspädagogik, Frankfurt/M. 1989, p. 35 ff., Buschbeck Bernhard, Johannes Calvin (1509–1564). In: Henning Schröer, Dietrich Zilleßen (edd.), Klassiker der Religionspädagogik. FS für Klaus Wegenast, Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 35 ff., Weber Otto, Artikel Calvin: Theologie. In: RGG, 19573, vol. I, l. 1593–1599, Weerda Jan, Calvin. In: Evangelisches Soziallexikon, 1954, l. 207–212, Gerrish Brian Albert, Artikel Calvin, Johannes, in: RGG4 2, l. 16–36, Stählin R.,Calvin, Johannes, in: Realenzyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche (RE)3, vol.3, Leipzig 1897, pp.654–683, Stupperich Robert , Reformatorenlexikon, Gütersloh 1984, pp 54–56 , Hesselink I. John, Calvinus Oecumenicus. C.'s vision of the unity and catholicity of the church, in: The unity of the church. Leiden 2010, pp. 69-93, Nijenhuis Willem,Calvin, Johannes, In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). VOL.7, de Gruyter, Berlin/New York 1981, in.568–592. Cf. also: Calvin Johannes, in: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), Calvin Johannes, at: http://

j.shtml. (12.12.2009) For the text of Institutio christianae religionis, see the main work by Calvin: (12.12.2009).

[28] Locher Gottfried Wilhelm, Huldrych Zwingli, in: Martin Greschat (ed.): Gestalten der Kirchengeschichte, vol.5: Die Reformationszeit I. Stuttgart, Berlin, Köln, Mainz, Kohlhammer, 19942, pp. 187–216, Emil Egli, Zwingli, Ulrich, in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB), vol. 45, Leipzig 1900, pp. 547–575.

[29] Pulpit exchange (Kanzelgemeinschaft-Kanzeltausch): term widely used in Protestantism for the definition of the mutual exchange of pastors for the service of preaching, mainly at local, but also at international level. As a rule it takes place once a month on Sunday or the day following an important celebration. Following a decision of the Synod, the interchange could take place at an interdominational level, within the protestant churches. A characteristic example are the church-members of GEKE.

[30] This means the intercommunion, inter-denominational and within a specific protestant federation.

[31] For the history, structure, set-up and work of the CEC, see (12.12.2009).

[32] For the history, structure, set up and work of the ACK, see (12.12.2009).

[33] For the history, structure, set up and work of GEKE, see (12.12.2009).

[34] For the World Council of Churches see: (29.03.2011).

[35] Die Synode.

[36] Der Rat.

[37] Die Kirchenkonferenz.

[38] Kirchliche Verfassung oder Kirchenordnung. For the history of the ecclesiastical canons since Reformation see (12.12.2009). See also Theologische Realenzyklopädie. vol. 19, Berlin, New York 1990, pp. 110–165, Jörg Winter, Artikel Kirchenverfassung, in: Werner Heun et al. (ed.): Evangelisches Staatslexikon. Kohlhammer, 2006, pp. 1236–1245.

[39] Kirchenamt der EKD: Church administration office of EKD. President:Hans Ulrich Anke (2010-)

Main Departments: I = Administration, Law and Finance. II = Ecclesiastical issues and Education. III = Public issues. IV = Ecumenical movement and Foreign policy. V = Press Office

[40] See the Tables at the end of the thesis.

[41] Eisenacher Konferenz.

[42] Deutschen Evangelischen Kirchenbundes.

[43] Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (DEK).

[44] Deutsche Christen (DC).

[45] From 1933 until 1939 an ‘ecclesiastical war’ took place between the two sides (the ‘German Christians’ and the evangelicals of the ‘confessing church’ which had the support of the three aforementioned local churches). The phrase ‘ecclesiastical war’ refers however to the whole period of Nazism and describes multiple expulsions and tortures suffered by the Christians who resisted. It should be mentioned here that aside from the members of the ‘confessing church’, many individual evangelicals were also resisted, many members of the RC church, as well as the Greek orthodox priest of the church of Holy Transfiguration of Munich, who was imprisoned for two years at the Dachau concentration camp. On the contrary, there were members of the RC who cooperated with the regime. The Russians abroad also cooperated with the regime. They then acquired legal entity of public law in Germany. See E.Wolf, Kirchenkampf, in: Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 3rd ed. 1959, pp. 1443-1453 and Leonore Siegle-Wenschkewitz, Die Kirchen zwischen Anpassung und Widerstand im Dritten Reich, in: Bermer Theologische Erklärung 1934-1984, Bielefeld 1984, pp. 11-29, E.Wolf, Kirchenkampf in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 3rd ed. 1959, pp. 1443-1453 and Leonore Siegle-Wenschkewitz, Die Kirchen zwischen Anpassung und Widerstand im Dritten Reich in Bermer Theologische Erklärung 1934-1984, Bielefeld 1984, pp. 11-29.

[46] E.Klee, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich, Frankfurt am Main 2 2003, p. 422. O Ludwig Müller (born on 23.06.1883 at Gütersloh and possibly committed suicide on 31.07.1945 in Berlin) was one of the main representatives of the movement of the ‘German Christians’ that propagandised for a mixture of Christianity and National Socialism. When he became the Reich’s bishop, the people used to call him ‘Reibi’. By 1931 he was already a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), whilst before (1914 and 1926-1933) he had served as a soldier-priest. In August 1933 he was elevated to the rank of local bishop at the ‘Church of the old-Prussian Union’, in September of the same year he was promoted as the Reich’s bishop and afterwards the minister of aviation and very close collaborator of Hitler, Hermann Göring, placed him advisor of the state. In 1935 he restricted his responsibilities as a bishop considerably and worked mainly as a personal advisor to Hitler for ecclesiastical matters. Being a devout advocate of Hitler, he gave the impression that Christians could easily agree with National Socialism. Of course his behaviour was contradicting entirely the content of the theological declaration of Barmen (Barmer Theologische Erklärung), a fruit of the first council of the ‘Confessing Church’, convened from 29th until 31st of May 1934 in Barmen. According to it, having Holy Bible as a base, only God is Lord of all and christians have to love their neighbour with no discrimination. See also C.Nicolaisen, Der Weg nach Barmen. Die Enstehungsgeschichte der Theologischen Erklärung von 1934, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1985 and W.Hüffmeier, M.Stöhr (edd.), Barmer Theologische Erklärung 1934-1984. Geschichte-Wirkung-Defizite in Unio und Confessio, published by Luther, vol. 10, (Vorträge des Barmen-Symposiums in Arnoldshain, 9. bis 11. April 1983), Bielefeld 1984. Barmer Theologische Erklärung, is not simply an act of resistance against the national socialism regime, but for EKD it is signpost of doctrine and faith of the 20th century. After 1945 it was included in the official doctrinal texts of EKD. For some of the church-members of EKD (Evangelical Reformed Church and Evangelical Church of Union), this declaration is, as a text, a Creed according to which the ordinations of the pastors are performed. See also the Sources.

[47] Bekennende Kirche.

[48] Martin Niemöller (born 14.01.1892 Lippstadt-Westfalen, died 06.03.1984 Wiesbaden), one of the main representatives of the ‘Confessing Church’, changed from a supporter of the Nazi to an opponent of the regime. Having realised the incompatibility between the national socialist ideology and the Christian faith, he left the party after the publication of the law about ‘the Aryan race’. He formed revolutionary groups of pastors (precursors of theConfessing Church) and helped ecclesiastical partners, who were removed from ecclesiastical services because they could not prove their racial purity, as well as persecuted Jewish persons. He stood by families that had suffered from the regime. He participated in the denominational conferences in Barmen in May 1934 and in Dahlem in October 1934. Although his political views were conservative, he did not hesitate to disagree openly with Hitler by declaring that resistance has nothing to do with the regime, but with the deprivation of free thinking and freedom of will and the impossibility for the true and pure evangelical faith to go together with politics. By castigating in his polemic preaching every unjustice, he became an enemy of the regime, was arrested in 1937 and stayed in various concentration camps until 1945. After the war he worked seriously for the reconstruction of the local church ‘Hesse and Nassau’, where he served as a president from 1947 until 1965, and of the EKD. He held the view that EKD should be made up and formed not as an episcopal body with each member church having its own special characteristics highlighted, but as a united uniform church. He took an active role in the publication of the ‘Declaration of guilt’ of Stuttgart (Stuttgarter Schuldbekenntnis), where the co-responsibilities of the churches for the wrongs of the Nazi regime are highlighted. After this act the road opened for the course of the EKD towards the ecumenical movement. He participated to the general assemblies of the WCC from 1948 until 1975. From 1961 until 1968 he was one of the six presidents of the WCC. From 1954 he dedicated himself to the prevalence of peace. As a warm pacifist and president of the ‘German Peace Movement’, he did not hesitate to contact the communists and the Real socialism during the cold war, thus receiving wide and negative criticism. Wolfgang Gerlach, Als die Zeugen schwiegen. Bekennende Kirche und die Juden, ed. Institut Kirche und Judentum, Berlin19932, p. 87 f.f.

[49] Karl Barth (born 10.05.1886 in Basel, died10.12.1968 also in Basel), evangelical reformer, possibly one of the biggest Protestant theologians of the 20th century. He was a student of ‘liberal theology’ (Adolf von Harnack), ‘Neo- Kantianism’ (Albrecht Ritschl), and his acquaintance with Christoph Blumhardt (theologian and pastor, later also a deputy of the social democratic party, founder of the religious social movement in Switcherland and Germany) had a profound influence on his life. He was the Father of ‘dialectical theology’, won over ‘liberal theology’, co-founded the ‘Confessing Church’, and was a spiritual leader in the protestant resistance to National Socialism. He was a member of the social democratic party and an ardent pacifist who never stopped hoping for a demilitarized world. He was, apart from other universities, a professor at the university of Bonn. His main work is ‘Church Dogmatics’. His works that continue to be published include around 74 volumes. F.W.Bautz, Karl Barth, in: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon 1 (1990), col. 384-396.

[50] Dietrich Bonhoeffer (born 04.02.1906 in Breslau, died 09.04.1945 in the concentracion camp of Flossenbürg). Evangelical theologian, the only perhaps following Luther, who is celebrated as a saint and martyr in the protestant churches in Germany and also in the Anglican churches (his statue is among other martyrs of the 20th century at the west entrance of the Westminster Abbey of London). He was a co-founder of the ‘Confessing Church’ and a passionate opponent of the Nazi regime. Georg Kretschmar, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in: Heinrich Fries, Georg Kretschmar (edd.): Klassiker der Theologie2. Von Richard Simon bis Dietrich Bonhoeffer, München 1983, pp.376–403, Sabine Bobert-Stützel, Dietrich Bonhoeffers Pastoraltheologie. Theologenausbildung im Widerstand zum „Dritten Reich“. Dargestellt anhand der Finkenwalder Vorlesungen 1935–1937. Gütersloh 1995 (pp. 1–27, 28–91, 92–115, 116–207, 208–321, 322–384), Gerhard Ebeling, Die nicht-religiöse Interpretation biblischer Begriffe in: Gerhard Ebeling: Wort und Glaube, vol.1, Tübingen 1960, pp.90–160.

[51] Theophil Wurm (born 1.12.1868 in Basel- died 28. 01 1953 in Stuttgart) was an evangelical pastor and from 1929 until 1948 a bishop of the local Protestant church in Wittenberg. He signed after the war the ‘Declaration of guilt’(Stuttgarter Schuldbekenntnis) with which the Evangelical Church admits its mistakes and wrongs during the war, thus bridging the gap with the ‘opposing’ churches. This Declaration essentially formed the base for the subsequent ecumenical collaboration. Frank Raberg, Biographisches Handbuch der württembergischen Landtagsabgeordneten 1815–1933, Stuttgart 2001, p.1056.

[52] Bund der Evangelischen Kirchen in der DDR. See:, (14.04.2011). See also: Deutschland-Archiv Nr. 4/94, pp. 374 – 391, Peter Maser, Glauben im Sozialismus. Kirchen und Religionsgemeinschaften in der DDR, Berlin 1989, pp.13-20.

[53] Cf.: EKD: Kirche der Freiheit, at: (28.08.2010), Ökumenische Arbeitsgruppe Homosexuelle und Kirche (HuK) e.V. at: (28.08.2010).

[54] Cf.: EKD: Gleichgeschlechtliche Partnerschaften. at: (28.08.2010).

[55] Kreationismus (lat. creare ‘create’). Creationism, in its wider form, is the religious faith that the universe and life have been created from zero by a divine being, rejecting therefore the common scientific explanations regarding the creation of the world and especially the evolutionary biology. Contemporary extreme supporters of the creationism are the majority of Evangelical Free Churches and groups. See National Academy of Sciences (multi-author volume), Science, Evolution and Creationism, The National Academies Press, 2008, pp. 37-38.

[56] Cf.: EKD: Gleichgeschlechtliche Partnerschaften. At:

gleichgeschlechtliche_partnerschaften_2002.html (28.08.2010).

[57] Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Evangelischen Jugend, at:

[58] Evangelischen Studentengemeinde, at:

[59] Studentenmission in Deutschland, at:

[60] Präses of the Synod: 1949–1955: Gustav Heinemann, 1955–1961: Constantin von Dietze, 1961–1970: Hans Puttfarcken, 1970–1973: Ludwig Raiser, 1973–1985: Cornelius von Heyl, 1985–2003: Jürgen Schmude, 2003–2009: Barbara Rinke.

[61] Source: (02.02.2011).

[62] Ms. Katrin Göring-Eckardt since May 2009, Erfurt, Vice president of the Federal Parliament of Germany.

[63] Ratsvorsitzender der EKD. Presidents since 1945: 1945–1949: Theophil Wurm, Landesbischof, Württemberg, 1949–1961: Otto Dibelius, Bischof, Berlin-Brandenburg, 1961–1967: Kurt Scharf, Präses, ab 1966 Bischof, Berlin-Brandenburg, 1967–1973: Hermann Dietzfelbinger, Landesbischof, Bayern, 1973–1979: Helmut Claß, Landesbischof, Württemberg, 1979–1985: Eduard Lohse, Landesbischof, Hannover, 1985–1991: Martin Kruse, Bischof, Berlin-Brandenburg, 1991–1997: Klaus Engelhardt, Landesbischof, Baden, 1997–2003: Manfred Kock, Präses, Rheinland, 2003–2009: Wolfgang Huber, Bischof, Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz, 2009–2010: Margot Käßmann, Landesbischöfin, Hannover, 2010–0000: Nikolaus Schneider, Präses, Rheinland. Presidents of the League ofEvangelical Churchesin the German Democratic Republic (1969–1991) were: 1969–1981: Albrecht Schönherr, Bischof von Berlin-Brandenburg, 1981–1982: Werner Krusche, Bischof der Kirchenprovinz Sachsen, 1982–1986: Johannes Hempel, Landesbischof von Sachsen, 1986–1990: Werner Leich, Landesbischof von Thüringen, 1990–1991: Christoph Demke, Bischof der Kirchenprovinz Sachsen.

[64] Martin H. Jung, Pietismus. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2005, (pp. 21–26: Die Siedlung Herrnhut in der Oberlausitz, pp. 56–63: Porträt Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf), Martin Krieger, Vom „Brüdergarten“ zu den Nikobaren. Die Herrnhuter Brüder in Südasien. In: Stephan Conermann (ed.): Der Indische Ozean in historischer Perspektive. EB, Hamburg 1998, pp.209–245 (1st voume, in: Asien und Afrika: Beiträge des Zentrums für Asiatische und Afrikanische Studien-ZAAS der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel).

[65] (20.12.2008).



[68] (20.12.2008).




[72] (20.12.2008).


[74] (20.12.2008).







[81] (20.12.2008).


[83] (20.12.2008).





[88] The Association of Reformed Evangelical Churches in Germany is a loose administratively link of autonomous reformed churches or parishes that do not belong to any church-members of the EKD.

[89] Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Germany

[90] United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany,

[91] Union of Evangelical Churches,

[92] Confederation of Evangelical Churches in Lower Saxony, (20.12.2008).

[93] In brief we cite their departments, their abbreviations and their base: Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Evangelischen Jugend (aej). Diakonisches Werk(DW), Stuttgart. Brot für die Welt, DW Stuttgart. Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, DW Stuttgart. Hoffnung für Osteuropa, DW Stuttgart. Evangelischer Bund, Bensheim. Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst(EED), Bonn. Evangelisches Missionswerk in Deutschlande.V. (EMW). Gemeinschaftswerk der Evangelischen PublizistikgGmbH (GEP), Frankfurt am Main. Evangelisches Zentralarchiv in Berlin. Kirchenrechtliches Institut der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland, Göttingen. Evangelische Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen(EZW), Berlin. Konfessionskundliches Institut(KI), Bensheim. Institut für Kirchenbau und kirchliche Kunst der Gegenwart, Marburg. Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut der EKD(SI), Hannover. Evangelische Schulstiftung in der EKD. Evangelische Arbeitsstelle Fernstudium für kirchliche Dienste, Gelnhausen. Gemeinsame Arbeitsstelle für gottesdienstliche Fragen der EKD, Hannover. Burckhardthaus, Evangelisches Institut für Jugend-, Kultur- und Sozialarbeite.V., Gelnhausen. Frauenstudien- und -bildungszentrum der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland, Gelnhausen. Aussiedlerseelsorge in der EKD, Hannover. Informations- und Dokumentationsstelle der EKD. Kirchlicher Dienst in der Arbeitswelt. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Missionarische Dienste. Zirkus- und Schausteller-seelsorge, Hannover. Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. Villigst. Deutsches Evangelisches Institut für Altertums-wissenschaften des Heiligen Landes.

[94] F.O.Scharbau, Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands, in Theologische Realenzyklopädie, 34, 2002, pp. 581-592.

[95] Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Eutin, not formerly a member of VELKD, was united with them.

[96] It differs from the Evangelische Landeskirche in Baden.

[97] The council of quotes collects, chooses and publishes, annually, a calendar with sayings, quotes and biblical readings for each day.

[98] Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon, 4, Göttingen3 1986-97, pp. 1120-1125. Evangelisches Staatslexikon, 2, Stuttgart3 1987, pp. 3706-3715. W.D.Hauschild, Vom ‘Lutherrat’ zur VELKD 1945-1948:…und üder Barmen hinaus, Göttingen1995, pp. 451-470. For more information and texts see the official website of VELKD at:

[99] In 1999 the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was signed between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in Agusta. We refer extensively to the Joint Declaration further down.

[100] After the Second Vatican Council men and women with theological education have been appointed a lay pastoral and parish partners/contributors. In Germany they are called Pastoralreferenten and have the right to preach, preside (aside of course holy sacraments) or help during the services, when the priest is absent, and help the priest with the ministry of the parish. Their role is not always distinct and due to many problems that have shown up in their co-operation with the responsible priests, the institution is under crisis. Many positions are not filled anymore due to economic reasons.

[101] Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, in:

[102] Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, in:

[103] Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, in:

[104] Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, in:

[105] Decrees of Second Vatican Council –Decree for the pastoral task of the bishops in the Church, Articles 36-38, pp 45-48, Edition of Grafeio Kalou Typou, Athens 1965. See also (20.12.2008).

[106] At: (20.12.2008).


[108] CCEE, at: (12.12.2009).

[109] COMECE, at: (12.12.2009).

[110] Op. cit, article 38, pp. 46-48.

[111] Presidents of GBC: First Bishops’ Conference in Fulda: Johannes Kardinal von Geissel, Erzbischof von Köln (1848), Paulus Kardinal Melchers, Erzbischof von Köln (1867–1883), Philipp Kardinal Krementz, Erzbischof von Köln (1884–1896), Georg Kardinal von Kopp, Fürstbischof von Breslau (1897–1913), Felix Kardinal von Hartmann, Erzbischof von Köln (1914–1919), Adolf Kardinal Bertram, Fürsterzbischof von Breslau (1920–1945), Joseph Kardinal Frings, Erzbischof von Köln (1945–1965). Second German Bishops’ Conference: Julius Kardinal Döpfner, Erzbischof von München-Freising (1965–1976), Joseph Kardinal Höffner, Erzbischof von Köln (1976–1987), Karl Kardinal Lehmann, Bischof von Mainz (1987–2008), Robert Zollitsch, Erzbischof von Freiburg (2008-).

[112] Rev. Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos, The Theology of the Roman Catholic Church according to the papal Encyclicals after 1965, Master thesis, Thessaloniki 2005, pp. 2-65 (in Greek).

[113] Die Geschichte des Christentums, Religion-Politik-Kultur, Band 13 Krisen und Erneuerung (1958-2000), German ed. by N.Brox, O.Engels, G.Kretschmar, K.Meier, H.Smolinsky, Freiburg-Basel-Wien 2002, pp. 32-66.

[114] R.Reinhardt, Ein ‘Kulturkampf’ an der Universität Freiburg. Beobachtungen zur Auseinandersetzung um den Modernismus in Baden: Aufbruch ins 20.Jh. zum streit um Reformkatholizismus und Modernismus, ed. G.Schwaiger, Göttingen 1976, pp. 90-138.

[115] See O.Weiß, Der Modernismus in Deutschland. ein Beitrag zur Theologiegeschichte, Regensburg 1995; N.Trippen, Theologie und Lehramt im Konflikt. Die kirchlichen Maßnahmen gegen den Modernismus im Jahre 1907 u. ihre Auswirkungen in Deutschland, Freiburg 1977; Antimodernismus und Modernismus in der katholischen Kirche. Beiträge zum theologiegeschichtlichen Umfeld des II. Vatikanums, ed. H.Wolf, Paderborn 1998.

[116] R. Aubert, Die Theologie während der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jh., in: Bilanz der Theologie im 20. Jh, edd. H.Vorgrimler and R. van der Gucht, Bd II, Freiburg 1969, 7-70.

[117] Die Geschichte des Christentums, op.cit. pp. 67-71.

[118] Hans Küng, Kleine Geschichte der katholischen Kirche, Berlin 2002; L.Elliot, Johannes XXIII., Freiburg 1975, p. 234-36.

[119] At:

[120] Dogmatic provision about the Church. It is the most important text of the Council. It was approved and signed on 21.11.1964 during the last general meeting of the third period of the council. From the first words of the latin text it was called ‘Lumen gentium’, i.e. ‘Light of the nations’. Dogmatic provision about the church, transl. Fr. Ath. Armaos, op. cit..

[121] Provision for the service and life of the priests. Voted on 7.12.1965, a day before the end of the Council. From the first words of the Latin text it was called “Presbyterorum Ordinis”, which is translated in Greek as ‘The order of the priests’, transl. Fr. Ath. Armaos, op. cit..

[122] Provision for the missionary work of the Church. Voted on 7.12.1965. From the first words of the latin text it was called ‘Ad Gentes’, i.e. ‘Towards the nations’, transl. Fr. Ath. Armaos, op. cit..

[123] Pastoral Provision ‘The Church in the contemporary world’. Voted on 7.12.1965. From the first words of the latin text it was called ‘Gaudiem et Spes’, i.e. ‘The joy and hope’, transl. Fr. Ath. Armaos. Ed. op.cit.

[124] Provision for the pastoral work of the bishops in the Church. Approved on 28.10.1965 and called ‘Christus Dominus’, i.e. ‘Christ the Lord’, transl. Fr. Ath. Armaos, op. cit..

[125] Provision for Ecumenism. Approved on 21.11.1965 and called ‘Unitatis Redintegratio’, i.e. ‘The restoration of unity’, transl. Fr. Ath. Armaos. Ed. op.cit. See also: P.E.Vanou, The attitude of the Roman Catholic Church in the World Council of Churches. Historic and theological approach from the orthodox view, PhD thesis, Thessaloniki 1997, p. 49 ff..

[126] Stephan Kotzula, Kirchengeschichte in Taten und Fakten, Leipzig 2002. See also V. Th. Stavridou, History of the Ecumenical Patriarcate (1453 – present), Thessaloniki 1987, p. 246 ff..

[127] Messages of the Second Vatican Council, transl. Fr. Ath. Armaos, op. cit..

[128] For the proceedings of the Council see Acta Concilii Vaticani II, 48 volumes, Vatican 1960-78.

[129] For the history of the Council see Bibliography and Sources.

[130] The following in each period:

At the first session no provisions were published (11. 10-08.12. 1962)

Second session: (29.09.-4.12.1963)

Sacrosanctum Concilium:Constitution the Sacred Liturgy, 4.12. 1963.

Inter mirifica: Provision for the mass media, 4. 12. 1963.

Third session: (14. 09.- 21. 11 1964)

Lumen Gentium:Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 21.11.1964.

Unitatis redintegratio: Decree on Ecumenism, 21. 11.1964.

Orientalium Ecclesiarum: Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches, 21. 11.1964.

Fourh period/session: (14.09.-8.12.1964)

Perfectae Caritatis: Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, 28.10. 1965.

Nostra Aetate: Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, 28.10.1965.

Optatam Totius: Decree on Priestly Training 28.10. 1965.

Christus Dominus: Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, 28.10.1965.

Dei Verbum:Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 18.11.1965.

Apostolicam Actuositatem: Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity,18.11.1965.

Presbyterorum Ordinis: Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 7.12.1965.

Gravissimum Educationis:Declaration on Christian Education, 7.12.1965.

Ad Gentes: Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, 7.12.1965.

Dignitatis humanae: Declaration on Religious Freedom, 7.12.1965.

Gaudium et Spes:Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 7.12.1965.

[131] Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, Erg.-Bde.: Das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil. Konstitutionen, Dekrete und Erklärungen. Bde. I-III. Freiburg 1966-68.

[132] A. G. Panoti, Paul VI-Athenagoras I, Pasifiers, Athens 1971, p. 180ff.. (in Greek) - D. Tsakona, Athenagoras the Ecumenical of new ideas, Athens 1976, p. 102-110 (in Greek).

[133] Dialog der Wahrheit, Perspektiven für die Einheit zwischen der katholischen und der orthodoxen Kirche, Freiburg-Basel-Wien 1981, p. 14ff..

[134] Tomos Agapis, Vatican-Phanar (1958-19709) (Rom-Istanbul 1971). Deutsche Übersetzung, hrsg. v. Pro Oriente (Wien 1978) Nr. 195. See also V. Th. Stavridou, History of the Ecumenical Patriacate (1453 – present), Thessaloniki 1987, p. 246ff..

[135] See K.Schatz, Kirchengeschichte der Neuzeit, Düsseldorf 2003, p. 189-95.

[136] The text in English: (12.12.2009).

[137] H.J. Urban-H. Wagner, Handbuch der Ökumenik, Vol. 2, Paderborn 1986, pp. 15-52.

[138] Op.cit..

[139] Willaime, Jean-Paul, Der Ökumenische Rat der Kirchen (ÖRK) - Die ökumenischen Bewegungen, in: Mayeur, Jean-Marie (Hrsg.), Krisen und Erneuerung (1958-2000) (Die Geschichte des Christentums. Religion - Politik - Kultur, 13), Freiburg 2002, pp. 131–151.

[140] See P. E. Vanou, Relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churces: Historical and theological approach from an Orthodox point of view, PhD thesis, Thessaloniki 1997, p. 73 ff.. (in Greek).


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The attitude of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) towards the Papal Encyclicals after the year 1965. Its relations with the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council.
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The Evangelical Church in Germany and the RC Church in Germany after 1965 are compared by an orthodox theologian. Texts are studied, especially magazine articles and sources. The relations of the protestants and the Roman Catholics of Germany are investigated and interpreted through the attitude of the Evangelical Church of Germany towards the encyclicals of the Pope of Rome after the conclusion of the Vatican Council (1965) and thereafter, as well as through the common papers of the bilateral dialogues and the recent ecumenical movement in Germany.
Theologie, Theology, Ökumenik, Ökumenische Theologie, Ecumenical Theology, EKD, Orthodoxe Theologie, Orthodox Theology, Roman Catholic Church, Papal Encyclicals
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Dr. Christos-Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos (Author), 2012, The attitude of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) towards the Papal Encyclicals after the year 1965. Its relations with the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council., Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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