Dialogue partner | Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Dialogue body | Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity


Contacts established between the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council led to the formation of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Working Group, which met in 1965 and 1966. The working group agreed that it was important to enter into comprehensive dialogue about the basic issues that separate and unite the two churches.

Following the official endorsement of the working group's recommendation by the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church, the Joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic Study Commission met for the first time in 1967.

Key Themes

  • Gospel
  • Church
  • Eucharist
  • Ministry
  • Justification
  • Apostolicity of the Church
  • Baptism

International Dialogue Milestones

Published reports of the international Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue

Phase I (1967-1972)

1972 | The Gospel and the Church (Malta report)

Phase II (1973-1984)

1978 | The Eucharist

1980 | All Under One Christ

1980 | Ways to Community

1981 | The Ministry in the Church

1983 | Martin Luther – Witness to Christ

1984 | Facing Unity – Models, Forms and Phases of Catholic-Lutheran Church Fellowship

Phase III (1986-1993)

1993 | Church and Justification

Phase IV (1995-2006)

1999 | The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ)

2006 | The Apostolicity of the Church

Phase V (2009-present)

2012 | From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 -  Published by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity in the context of the 2017 commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the 50th anniversary of dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics

2016 | Joint Commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31 October, the LWF and Roman Catholic Church jointly held an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation in Lund, Sweden. Observed in two parts—a common prayer service and a public event—it highlighted the solid developments and joint gifts received through the dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, particularly in anticipation of the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017.

Regional Agreements

Significant regional relations between Lutherans and Roman Catholics exist in different parts of the world.

Germany | Dialogue between the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the German Bishops’ Conference of the Roman Catholic Church has focused on a number of central theological themes. A major study was undertaken on the doctrinal condemnations of the Reformation era regarding justification, ministry and the sacraments, and whether they still apply.

United States of America | Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue here has focused on theological areas central to the common faith - justification by faith -, the status of Mary, the saints, and the Petrine ministry. The dialogue also has discussed the question of baptism.

Both of these regional dialogues have contributed substantially to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.