A common testimony in a divided world

LWF Vice-President Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny hopes intercommunion would still come true during the lifetime of his generation. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux
LWF Vice-President Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny hopes intercommunion would still come true during the lifetime of his generation. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux

LWF Vice-President Fabiny prays intercommunion will still come true

(LWI) - Hungarian Lutheran Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny participated in the 1999 signing of the Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Germany as a broadcast media journalist. As the LWF Vice-President for Central Eastern Europe prepares to witness the Joint Commemoration of the Reformation, in Sweden, he shares some thoughts with LWI.

Lutheran World Information: What is the importance of the joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration in Lund and Malmö, from your perspective?

Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny: On 31 October 1999, I had the opportunity as a journalist to be present at the signing of the Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Augsburg, Germany. At that time, I would not have thought I would be able to participate at a possibly even more momentous event, and even now as a bishop. The date and the location related to the event bear strong symbolic references.

In a divided world, it is also important for the churches to express a common testimony. I am looking forward to the event as a kick-off defining the tone of the whole remembrance year ahead us, also on the level of member churches.

How are Lutherans and Catholics working together in your region, can you name an example of good cooperation?

The document From Conflict to Communion has been translated and related conferences have been organised for example in Estonia, Hungary and Poland. At the same time, I know that there are churches living in minority situations in the region, for who a joint ecumenical commemoration is still difficult to grasp. For churches that have historically struggled for their existence in an overwhelmingly Catholic environment, it can be a challenge not to define Protestant identity without being in opposition to the Catholic Church. The re-affirmation of our common heritage in liturgical life is still an ongoing process. The Lund event will also help them to understand the gifts of this opportunity.

How can we work together in hope for refugees and displaced people in your region?

Let me mention a concrete example of inclusion: On the day of my departure to Lund for the Joint Commemoration, the lay Catholic Community of Sant’ Egidio in Hungary will organize a special occasion in Budapest, which will bring together not only different Christian denominations but the Abrahamic religions. People from Christian, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds will meet under the notion of mercy and with the visible sign of eating around one table.

When it comes to the situation of refugees, governments in our region are hesitant and the members of society sometimes prejudiced; it is a slow process of improvement.

How is the Reformation being commemorated in your region?

There is a colourful variety of programs which mirror the fact that Reformation is an integral part of Protestant identity in Central Eastern Europe. It is important that the great amount of creative, personal initiatives would form a coordinated network in which we can also learn from each other.

You will represent the LWF and your region in Lund and Malmö, what are you looking forward to personally during the day?

My personal hope and prayer topic is that intercommunion would still come true during the lifetime of our generation.

 

Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny is the LWF Vice-President for Central Eastern Europe. He heads the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary.

More about the Joint Commemoration