Ecclesia semper reformanda est

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Ecclesia semper reformanda est (Latin for "the church is always to be reformed", sometimes shortened to semper reformanda, "always to be reformed") is a phrase originating in the Nadere Reformatie movement in the seventeenth century Dutch Reformed Church and widely but informally used in Reformed and Presbyterian churches today (for example, the French Reformed Church use "Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda" as motto). It refers to the conviction of certain Reformed Protestant theologians that the church must continually re-examine itself in order to maintain its purity of doctrine and practice. The term first appeared in print in Jodocus van Lodenstein, Beschouwinge van Zion (Contemplation of Zion), Amsterdam, 1674.[1]

The term was also used by ecclesiastical reformers of the Roman Catholic Church who were caught up in the spirit of Vatican II of the 1960s.[2] This latter usage appears in a 2009 pastoral letter by bishop R. Walker Nickless that encourages a hermeneutic of continuity in Catholic teaching and practice.[3]

The phrase (without the est, which is quite usual in Latin) is also put into the mouth of the fictional Pope Gelasius III in Mary Doria Russell's 1998 novel The Children of God.

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  1. ^ Michael Bush, "Calvin and the Reformanda Sayings," in Herman J. Selderhuis, ed., Calvinus sacrarum literarum interpres: Papers of the International Congress on Calvin Research (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008) p. 286. ISBN 978-3-525-56914-6
  2. ^ 50 Years of Vatican II -A time of orphans. Two veteran Catholic journalists express their sadness
  3. ^ Pastoral letter