Ecumenical meeting in U.S. to follow up on Joint Declaration on Doctrine of Justification
Notre Dame consultation to discuss impact and implications for five Christian world communions
(LWI) - Leaders of five Christian World Communions meet at the Catholic University of Notre Dame in the United States next week to discuss the significance of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) and its impact on their search for full, visible unity of the church.
The joint declaration was signed by Lutherans and Catholics in Augsburg, Germany, on 31 October 1999, effectively resolving one of the key conflicts of the Reformation. It stated clearly that the “earlier mutual doctrinal condemnations”, with which Catholics and Lutherans accused each other of heresy at the time of the Reformation, “do not apply to the teaching of the dialogue partners” today.
The declaration added that both partners will continue to work together for further clarification on subjects such as the relationship between Scripture and doctrine, ecclesiology, authority, ministry, the sacraments and the connection between justification and social ethics.
From bilateral to multilateral
Initially signed as a Catholic-Lutheran agreement, it has since been joined or substantially affirmed by three other Christian Communions, namely the World Methodist Council in 2006, the Anglican Communion and the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in 2017.
The document paved the way for the past two decades of progress in relations between Catholics and Lutherans, including the 2017 Joint Commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, hosted by Pope Francis and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) leaders, former President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge in the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmö.
Challenging the churches
Yet despite the extraordinary ecumenical significance of this agreement, many Christians in countries around the globe remain unaware of its existence and its implications for shared worship, study, public witness and practical service.
The Notre Dame University consultation will take place from 26-29 March with the goal of highlighting the historic importance of the declaration and exploring further developments in inter-church relations that could result from a more effective reception and implementation at local, national or international level.
The meeting will challenge leaders of the five world communions to share new and creative ways of visibly demonstrating the theological progress of the past two decades
The meeting will challenge leaders of the five world communions to share new and creative ways of visibly demonstrating the theological progress of the past two decades through the daily life of their local churches.
During the consultation, the university, which has a long-standing commitment to furthering ecumenical and interfaith relations, will also host two public events. On the evening of 26 March, an ecumenical prayer service will be held in the Basilica of Sacred Heart with music provided by the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir.
On 28 March, as the consultation draws to a close, a panel discussion among leaders of the different denominations will take place entitled 'From Conflict to Communion: The Future of Christians Together in the World'.
Among those attending the consultation are Rev. Dr Martin Junge, the LWF General Secretary, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Rev. Dr J.C. Park, President of the World Methodist Council, Rev. Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the WCRC, and The Most Rev. Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the global Anglican Communion.
The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was the result of over three decades of ecumenical dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church.