Roman Catholics and Lutherans held a special commemoration of the Reformation marking its 500th anniversary with a liturgical service that called for thanksgiving, repentance and unity.

The liturgical service was held at the Cathedral  of St Patrick and St Joseph in Auckland on October 31.

The cathedral service followed the Common Prayer liturgical guide based on the ground-breaking study by Lutherans and Catholics called “From Conflict to Communion”.

The service was led by Auckland Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn and assistant Bishop of the Lutheran Church Rev. Jim Pietsch.

In his reflection, Bishop Dunn said the gathering was a thanksgiving for the gifts of the Reformation and repentance over “the scandal that was caused by disunity through the ages and this present time”.

He said reconciliation is a journey that God calls us to take.

“We know as people of faith that God often calls on us to start on a journey without actually being able to see what the end result would be. We know it’s the right and good thing to do but the future is hidden from our lives,” he said.

Rev. Pietsch also reflected on the reading of the Gospel, John 15:1-5, about the vine and branches.

“Jesus spoke saying he is the vine . . . you are the branches on my vine. You are the branches therefore you belong to me and if you belong to me, you belong together,” he said.

The Father, on the other hand, is the gardener who prunes what is evil and judgmental. This concept of pruning fits with repentance, Rev. Pietsch said, and was the first thesis of Martin Luther.

“We can only be reformers when we are shaped, pruned, reformed. And with that humility . . . we can stand with one another, and love, reform, change, encourage, build up one another,” he said.

Rev Dr Richard Waugh, QSM, Chair of the National Church Leaders of Aotearoa-New Zealand, called the service “a beautiful offering of worship”.

“We do such reconciling work for the sake of strong witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “We commend and support the dialogues, especially between Lutherans and the Roman Catholics, which will be a hopeful influence here in Auckland and on the whole Church in Aotearoa New Zealand,” he said.

Carlo David, Auckland Diocesan Commission for Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations executive secretary, said the service was given a New Zealand twist by including a karanga (Maori summons) at the beginning,  Maori hymns and a song composed by Maria Guzzo especially for the occasion.

“Although it was uniquely . . . especially a Lutheran Catholic event, the Reformation led to the establishment of the other churches.

“So, we decided to invite other church leaders,” he said.

Other church leaders and clergy who attended were Anglican Bishop Ross Bay, Wesleyan Methodist Rev. Dr Waugh, Lutheran Pastor Joe Kummerow, Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral Dean Anne Mills and Cathedral Precentor Ivica Gregurec, Methodist Rev. Prince Devanandan, and Presbyterian Rev. Wayne Toleafoa.