From April to June 2015, the Shroud of Turin was on public display. Two million believers took the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Turin, including Pope Francis. After visiting the shroud Francis paid a visit to the Waldensian temple on 22 June. The first pope to do so. (see Papal Kiss for Waldensian Bible - Pope Francis, Don Bosco and the Waldensian ).
Pope Francis asked the Waldensians for forgiveness in June for Catholic injustice
The relationship between Waldensians and Catholics is one of deep conflict. On both sides there were atrocities mainly during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Even in the mid-19th century the Waldensians sought the life of St. John Bosco.
Pope Francis made the unilateral first step towards reconciliation and asked the Waldensian forgiveness for the injustice committed by Catholics. The Pope had said: "On behalf of the Catholic Church, I ask you for forgiveness for the unchristian and even inhuman attitudes and actions, which we have done to you throughout history. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us! "
The Moderator of the Waldensian Table, Pastor Eugenio Bernardini, responded: "The Pope has overcome a wall that was built eight centuries ago when our church was accused of heresy and excommunicated by the Roman church." The pope did not argue.
To underline his readiness, the Pope kissed a Waldensian Bible which was presented to him by Waldensian pastors. It was a gesture that caused some criticism on the Catholic side.
Waldensian: Radicalized Pauperisten, the Calvinists were
The Waldensians originated in the late 12th century as a pietistic movement. Its founder, Peter Valdes, was a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi. The two movements of Peter Valdes and the Poverello of Assisi, however, went different ways. While St. Francis of Assisi renewed the Catholic Church, Peter Valdes led the way out of the Church.
In the 16th century the Waldensians adopted Calvinist doctrine and have since been in effect, Italian Calvinists. Since the 18th century there is, because of the common hostility to the Catholic Church, close networking between Waldensians and Freemasonry. In the 19th century there was an "Away from Rome" movement in liberal circles of the leading Italian bourgeoisie toward the Waldenses. This movement was not numerically great, but intensified again the opposition. It is estimated that half of the 45,000 Italian Waldensians today go back to the recent crossing movement. In 1979, the Waldensians joined together with the Methodists in Italy.
Waldensian synod specially convened to give the Pope an answer
The outstretched hand of the Pope sparked heated discussions within the Waldensian community. Finally, a Waldensian synod was specially convened to respond to the Pope on his request for forgiveness. The Synod will meet until Friday in Torre Pellice for Turin. The answer is now clear and is negative. "We're moving, but we can not be forgive." The decision of the Waldensian Synod can be summarized with these words.
In an official letter to the Pope the Synod declared: "Dear Brother in Christ Jesus, the Synod of the Evangelical Waldensian Church accepts with deep respect and not without emotion, your apology expressed on behalf of your church asking for forgiveness for what you have indeed even described as 'unchristian, even inhuman attitudes and actions' that have been taken in the past against our mothers and fathers," But then this is followed by a big "but" of the Waldensians. This new situation does not allow us, to step in the place of those who testified with their blood or the other Protestants suffering for their faith, and to forgive you. "
This message, rejected the outstretched hand of the Pope, it was decided on Monday by the 180 people gathered at the Waldensian Synod.
No request for forgiveness by the Waldensians for the wrongs they committed
In the message goes on to say: "The fraternal dialogue that we are having today is a gift of God's mercy, which has forgiven your and our church many times and still forgives, by inviting to repentance, to conversion and to a new life." In fact, however, the Pope's asking for forgiveness has been answered with a affront. The Waldensians retreat to the position that a pardon can be issued only by the victims themselves. Vice versa the apology on the Catholic, the Mea culpa for years passed is thus called into question, since accordingly only the offender could ask for forgiveness, but not their direct or indirect descendants. But this formalist position can not hide the fact that the Waldensians in reality do not want to approach the Catholic Church. Because this could have been expressed differently, despite the question of direct forgiveness.
The Waldensian Synod for their part couldn't find a word of apology for the wrongs committed by Waldensians against the Catholic Church and the Catholics.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Vatican Insider / Chiesa e postconcilio
Image: Vatican Insider / Chiesa e postconcilio
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