The Catholic Church has been in the news recently -- in ways that have brought both conciliation and continued controversy to the Church's profile. On Sunday, the Catholic Church and a confederation of Lutheran Churches representing 59 million of the world's 61.5 Lutherans signed an accord in Augsburg, Germany healing the nearly 500-year old rift between the two churches on the doctrine of salvation. The divisive debate of faith versus works prompted the Protestant movement in early Modern Europe as Luther and his followers asserted the supremacy of faith alone while the Church continued to maintain the value of Catholic baptism and individual human behavior in the disposition of one's relationship to God. Some theologians and observers of religion see the Augsburg accord as an historic act of ecumenicism, but others believe it to be of minimal significance. In particular, the Missouri Synod, the conservative branch of the American Lutheran Church, does not believe the accord addresses the fundamental differences between the two faiths and, hence, refused to sign it. In other news, the Church continues to be embroiled in controversy with other non-Christian faiths as the upcoming visit of the Pope to India has sparked protests by some Hindu groups demanding the pontiff apologize for the actions of the Catholic Church in India in the last few hundred years, including the desecration of Hindi divinities by missionaries and the forced conversions of Hindus by the Church.
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