News is just emerging of a series of bomb attacks on German Catholic bishops, their palaces and their limousines. Police in Baden-Württemberg have said that responsibility for the attacks – which have resulted in millions of euros of damage to property and minor injuries to an Auxiliary Bishop – has been claimed by an extremist Lutheran Group, the ‘Reformation Kreuzfahrer’.
The group was formed in response to claims by the German Bishops’ Conference that the time had come for a ‘healing of memories’. Martin Luther was, after all, claimed the bishops, a ‘Gospel witness and teacher of the faith’. Contrary to expectations, the Reformation Kreuzfarher were not best pleased.
Last July the same Lutheran splinter group took a page in Die Welt to denounce the bishops as ‘Reformation deniers’. Before throwing a home-made incendiary device into Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s twenty-five bedroom summer retreat (the ‘Eagle’s Nest’) on the Obersalzberg they nailed a copy of Luther’s 95 theses to the doors of the Frauenkirche in Munich..
Said police chief Gerhard Schlaeger: ‘After the attacks in Paris and Brussels we in Germany take very seriously any religion-related terrorist activity.’ Said Bishop Heinrich Strohm, president of the Evangelical Church of Germany: ‘Moderate Lutherans the world over will deplore these barbarous and cowardly attacks’.
Pope Francis, returning by Alitalia from a visit to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, repeated claims he has previously made. ‘I do not believe that religion is the cause of this violence,‘ he was reported as saying, ‘and anyway, Catholics are as much to blame as anyone.’
Fr Lombardi is thought to be at work nuancing this response.