As was pointed out in the comments on my last post (though I should give credit to my friend, Charlie Collier of Wipf & Stock for pointing it out to me first), it seems that there will indeed be upcoming interaction between the current Pope and Martin Luther. According to a recent article in the Times Online, Pope Benedict will release his findings based on his study of Luther after discussing him in a seminar with 40 other theologians. According the article, the Pope plans to release a positive assessment of Luther as a Reformer of the church, arguing that he did not intend to split the church, but only to purge it of corrupt practices, in some ways anticipating some of the reforms of Vatican II.
Some think that this move to positively evaluate Luther is something of a PR mop-up after the bad reactions to the statement released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith last summer which declared Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches to be “not proper Churches.” Regardless, I think more Catholic engagement with Luther is a good and important thing and the future of ecumenical theology may have a lot to do with such studies. Ironically enough, it may very well be that Luther will be a decisive key in healing the very rift in the church that he helped create. It is always the scribes of the kingdom who practice the hard art of bringing treasures new and old out of the storehouse of the church.