United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough



Symposium Marking 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Gets Under Way

A Theological Symposium marking the quincentenary of the Reformation got under way this evening (Friday February 17) in Trinity College Dublin. The symposium, which continues tomorrow, is a collaborative initiative which involves: The Lutheran Church in Ireland and the School of Religions, Peace Studies & Theology, the School of Histories & Humanities, the Department of Physics, Trinity College Dublin.

Reformation Dublin
Reformation Dublin

As part of the event a special Reformation Installation – a truck containing a travelling exhibition – will be in place in the Front Square of Trinity College tomorrow. The exhibition is visiting 67 cities in 19 countries in Europe offering the opportunity to explore Reformation stories and share thoughts and stories about the Reformation. The exhibition will finish in Wittenberg.

An opening ceremony took place in Trinity College Chapel this afternoon. It was compared by Professor Juergen Barkhoff of TCD’s Department of Germanic Studies. Pastor Stefan Csadi of St Finian’s Lutheran Church in Dublin highlighted the visit of the Reformation Installation to Trinity, its only Irish stop, and said the Reformation was one of the most defining moments in European history.

Provost and President of Trinity College, Dr Patrick Prendergast, said the university owed its foundation to the Reformation and added that few had greater impact on European history than Martin Luther. Trinity is hosting a number of exhibitions and events to mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation and he hoped that students, staff and people from further afield would engage with them.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson looked at the concept of reformation and the Church of Ireland through the prism of the Reformation. He said the Reformation offered choice in the public expression of faith in God. “The ecclesiastical world now has the opportunity to embrace choice with the pivotal recognition that The Other is essential to our setting our agenda, individually and corporately, and that your margin is the centre of my world. Connecting Others and margins is the calling of all churches together. The Reformation took place in a world where Christianity had no option but to rub shoulders with World Faiths other than itself. Some things it got spectacularly and disastrously wrong. We too in our day have no other option than to rub shoulders and to shake hands with those of World Faiths other than our own. Ecumenism simply is no longer sufficient,” he said.

You can read the full text of the Archbishop’s talk here

The Catholic Bishop of Limerick and co–chair of the Irish Inter Church Meeting, Dr Brendan Leahy, said the commemoration event was happening to witness to something extraordinary that happened 500 years ago. Referring to the historic declaration signed in Lund, Sweden, last October by Pope Francis and the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Revd Martin Junge, he spoke of the importance of ecumenism. Bishop Leahy added that the weekend’s symposium was not about looking back at past events but an invitation to discover transformation as Christians.

Speaking of behalf of the Irish Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Donald Watts, former Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and past president of the ICC, said that Ireland had changed. It had become a multi cultural, diverse society in which the Christian tradition is just one strand alongside others. “A Christian view point is best expressed by Christians together,” he suggested adding that this was done through the Irish Inter Church Meeting and the Irish Council of Churches.

Details of tomorrow’s programme are available here:


Photo caption: Organisers, speakers and special guests who attended the opening ceremony of the Luther 500 Theological Symposium in TCD