Dialogue with the Lutherans

Source: FSSPX News


On November 7, Benedict XVI granted an audience to representatives of the World Lutheran Federation and their president Mark Hanson, on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Federation with the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians. “From the very beginning of your pontificate, you have stressed that service to the unity of the entire Christian Church would be one of your priorities. We would like to express our most sincere appreciation for your strong commitment in this domain”, Mark Hanson told the pope.

 Benedict XVI recalled that for many years the Catholic Church and the Lutherans had established “a profound ecumenical dialogue” with a “very fruitful and promising” exchange of ideas. A “significant step” towards the much sought after unity between the two confessions, had enabled them to sign a joint declaration on Justification on October 31, 1999, at Augsburg. However, Benedict XVI pointed out that in order to succeed in any “significant achievement”, it should be accepted that the relative differences on the fundamental question of Justification remain. These differences “must be tackled together in ways by which the grace of God is transmitted in and through the Church”.

“I hope that the future progress of our dialogue on these points will not be placed uniquely in a context of ‘institutional’ questions”, said Benedict XVI, for whom the mission of the Church is to ‘bear witness to’ the verity of Jesus Christ the Word made flesh”. Because “the Word and the witness go together”.

 Benedict XVI announced that the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commission (born of  Vatican II in 1967) would publish the conclusions of the fourth phase of dialogue in a document on “The Apostolicity of the Church and the Apostolic succession”. “We are all aware that our fraternal dialogue is challenged not only by the need to verify its reception in our respective communions and the shared formulations on doctrine, he went on to explain, but even more today by the climate of general uncertainty concerning verities and Christian ethical principles, which, in former times were incontestable”. We have noted that “this common patrimony has, in some cases been destroyed by a new interpretation of the texts”.

As we prepare to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the events of 1517 (date of the protestant Reformation), we should intensify our efforts to understand more thoroughly, what we have in common and what divides us, as well as the gifts we have to offer each other”, he ended.