On Monday morning (April 8, 2013), Pope Francis received in audience Dr. Nikolaus Schneider, Präses (“President”) of the Evangelical Church (Lutheran) in Germany, who was accompanied by his wife, and a small group of associates.

The head of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, described the meeting as “very friendly”, noting the Präses expressed his appreciation for the choosing of the name Francis, “because it is the name of a saint that truly speaks to all Christians in a very effective manner.” The Evangelical leader also spoke about his concern for the victims of the recent flooding which has caused so much suffering in Argentina.

Father Lombardi said their ecumenical discussions focused on the value of the ecumenism of the martyrs, to which the Pope gives particular weight, since the blood of the martyrs is something which profoundly unites the various Christian denominations in a common witness to Christ.

Dr. Schneider also spoke about the upcoming anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, which is of course an extremely important commemoration for the Evangelical Church in Germany. The Pope took the opportunity to remind the Präses of the words of Pope Benedict XVI in Erfurt, where Martin Luther lived and worked, which have a particular ecumenical significance in regards to the figure of Luther in particular, as well as for relations between the Catholic Church and those ecclesial communities emerging from the Reformation.