La réception de Luther dans la théologie catholique romaine française après le concile Vatican II

Contemporary French Catholic theology has broken with the usual criticism and denials, and taken a positive approach to Luther. The present article illustrates this new attitude at the hand of two examples. The first is Yves Congar, an authentic « Lutherologist » who studied Luther’s writings in detail and from the beginning applauded his soteriology. Nevertheless, Congar refused to admit the Reformation understanding of God’s omnipotence, which in his eyes eliminated all cooperation with God. Thirty years later he was to amend his earlier position, observing that Luther had remained faithful to the Augustinian tradition which Rome never condemned. The problem of church’s cooperation for human salvation would remain for him, however. Faithful to the Thomist tradition, Congar could not accept the exclusively christocentric ecclesiology of Luther, which made the Church’s role too passive. The second example is the theology of the Jesuit Bernard Sesboüé, who knew and wholeheartedly lauded Luther’s soteriology. In some ways he is even more « Lutheran » than he thinks. Accordingly, the cause of the sixteenth-century schism was not the doctrine of salvation. Sesboüé too insists on the role of ecclesiology, in the political context of the time, in provoking the rupture. As such, ecclesiology remains the stumbling-block dividing Lutherans and Catholics even today.