Joint Catholic-Lutheran Study Document Recommended to Member Churches

Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity meeting from 12–19 July in Paderborn, Germany. © pdp - Erzbistum Paderborn
Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity meeting from 12–19 July in Paderborn, Germany. © pdp - Erzbistum Paderborn

“From Conflict To Communion” Is Being Put into Practice

(LWI) – In a joint letter The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) together with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) recommends the publication “From Conflict to Communion. Lutheran—Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017” to their respective member churches.

The study document, which has been prepared by the Lutheran-Catholic Study Commission on Unity, was received and commended for the member churches for study by the LWF Council in June 2013. By definition of the commission, “From Conflict to Communion” is intended to be an accompaniment for the upcoming Reformation commemoration in 2017 as well as a reflection of 50 years of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the LWF.

From Conflict to Communion is the first-ever attempt at an international level jointly to describe the history of the Reformation, to analyze the theological issues at stake, to trace ecumenical developments between our communions and to identify where convergence has been achieved and where differences remain,” the letter to member churches signed by PCPCU president Cardinal Kurt Koch and LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge reads.

Use on Regional and Local Levels

Rev. Dr Kaisamari Hintikka, the LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical relations, encouraged member churches to discuss the document on regional and local levels. “Even though ecumenical dialogues have been considered as important part of the mission of the churches and the reports of these dialogues have been often received with great expectations, the actual reception process of the documents has been left for lesser attention,” Dr Hintikka said.

She added that, while the document might seem directed towards a theologically trained audience of theologians, parts such as the “five ecumenical imperatives” at the end of the document could be used by a wider audience”.

Hintikka referred to several examples in North and Latin America or in Europe where the Lutherans and Catholics together have already translated the document and initiated discussions on it within their local communities or study commissions.

Live and Witness Together

“We hope to encourage the Catholic and Lutheran communities to come together and study this document. We hope that through the joint study they will be able to deepen their relationship and strengthen their joint witness,” Dr Hintikka said.

She underlines that that whenever the document is being studied, it should be done together with Catholics and Lutherans: “One option is to enter into joint storytelling on the history of Lutherans and Catholics in their respective local contexts. Have we been able to live and witness together? Which are the issues that have prevented us to do this? How has the one in majority position been able to hear the one living in a minority situation and vice versa? Is there something we can learn from our joint history? And finally: how can we continue together so that the celebration and communication of the gospel of Christ would become a powerful part of our joint witness to the world?” Says Hintikka and concludes that this is how the document can serve as a means of healing of memories and encouragement for joint witness in local Catholic and Lutheran communities.

We would like to hear how you have received “From Conflict to Communion” in your church. Please send feedback to Anne Burghardt, Secretary for Ecumenical Relations.