Some years ago Reinhold Niebuhr declared that “the acrimonious relations between Catholics and Protestants in this country are scandalous. If two forms of the Christian faith, though they recognize a common Lord, cannot achieve a little more charity in their relations with each other, they have no right to speak to the world or to claim that they have any balm for the world’s hatreds and mistrusts. The mistrust between Catholics and Protestants has become almost as profound as that between the West and Communism” (Essays in Applied Christianity, p. 220). As recently as 1959 Jaroslav Pelikan wrote an article in Presbyterian Life deploring the “cold war” between Christians and asserting that Protestant-Roman Catholic relations were smirched with “slogans and slanders” on both sides.
Within recent years, however, relations between those two branches of the Christian faith have taken a decided turn for the better. So great has been the increase in mutual charity and understanding that it may be said that the relations between Protestants and Roman Catholics have become almost Christian in character.
There are many illustrations of this increase in mutual respect and charity. For one thing, Roman Catholic appraisal of the Protestant Reformation, and particularly of Martin Luther, has become increasingly sympathetic. For example, in 1947 Karl Adam, the well-known German Roman Catholic theologian, wrote a book entitled One and Holy, in the foreword of which he said:
It cannot be doubted that at the present moment, under shattering impact of two world wars, a bridge is being built between Catholics and Lutherans, at least in the sense that the unreality of mere polemic is being abandoned, that Luther on the one hand and the Papacy ...1
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