The German bishops apparently praised Fr. Martin Luther as “a Gospel witness and a teacher of the faith” in efforts to make closer ties to Protestants, namely Lutherans.
Fr. Martin Luther is responsible for 500 years of bitter division between Christians. Instead of healing relations with the Church, he became pompous (telling from how he spoke of himself). That being said he was more faithful to the Catholic faith than any of the other so-called “Reformers” were, who only made Protestantism evolve into what many see it today as lacking any kind of liturgy, belief in the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the divine Motherhood, the use of holy imagery, etc.
It is pretty ironic too seeing that they are trying to have better dialogue with the Jews too, a group Luther had a major issue with. He did after all call for the burning of their synagogues, homes and writings in his piece An den Juden und ihren Lügen (On the Jews and Their Lies).
It is already evident what I think about Catholic dialogue with Muslims. Any attempt to whitewash Islam’s heresies and inherently violent nature is purely agenda-driven. Catholics should not be calling a man a prophet who claimed the Holy Trinity is pagan, that Jesus Christ was never crucified nor resurrected. That’s what I think of when I think of Catholics praising Martin Luther even if to a lesser scale. Sure I can admire Luther’s fidelity to many Catholic doctrines and practices, but I wouldn’t publicly praise him as that would give scandal. It seems as if many are not encouraged to convert to Catholicism because the bishops of the Church are praising non-Catholics and lapsed, heretical or apostate Catholics such as Luther.
In the end we need to ask ourselves what we hold as more important. Dialogue or evangelization? It seems too many in the Church see the second as more important. Dialogue is simply part of the human condition; as human beings we have to know how to communicate or dialogue. However, interfaith dialogue is not a command; evangelization is (rf. Matthew 28:19). Catholics should be emphasizing where Luther got his orthodox theology from and how he messed up and created a gateway to more heresy. Let us remember the words of Blessed John Henry Newman, once a Protestant himself: “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”