Pope John Paul II signed a declaration in Augsburg in which Catholics and Protestants agreed on Luther’s main thesis
None of the protagonists of the conflict could see how in 1999, more than four hundred and eighty years after the religious conflict broke out in Germany, His Holiness John Paul II put an end to it with the signing of the Joint Declaration on Grace.
31 October 1517. Tradition has it that on this day a monk named Luther nailed his now famous 95 Theses to the church doors of the University of Wittenberg. On 31 October 1999, His Holiness John Paul II signed the Common Declaration on Grace in the German city of Augsburg, in which Catholics and Protestants agree on Luther’s main thesis. Man is saved by faith and love of God, not by donations to the Church, nor by bulls or indulgences.
Thus a religious conflict that had lasted for almost five centuries was brought to an end. And as a consequence of the declaration, Rome lifted the excommunication against Luther. It was precisely there, in Augsburg, that the German monk learned of the papal bull excommunicating him in 1521.
The thesis agreed in 1999 between Catholics and Protestants took as its starting point the Lutheran idea that it is divine grace, not works, that can lead man to salvation. It is the core of Luther’s 95 theses, which triggered the biggest schism in Christianity since the birth of Jesus.
It should be remembered that the Catholic doctrine of the time taught, according to the epistle of the apostle James, that faith was not enough to get to heaven, but that good works were necessary, including donations to the Church, with which believers could buy forgiveness for their sins. To this doctrine, Luther appealed to the apostle Paul to argue that salvation and forgiveness could only be achieved through faith, grace and a dialogue with the divinity, without ecclesiastical intermediaries. Thus, in the document signed in 1999, the Catholic Church accepted that «belief in grace is at the heart of the Christian faith».
Despite this, there are still deep differences between Catholics and Protestants, although fortunately they do not lead to wars, as they did in the past.