Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CATHOLIC LUTHERAN RELATIONS ADVANCED WITH PAPAL MEETING


(Vatican Radio) From division to dialogue. From conflict to communion and common witness. That journey of reconciliation was at the heart of a meeting that Pope Francis had on Monday with members of the World Lutheran Federation who came to present the work of a joint commission looking ahead to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
During the encounter, the Pope said he believed it “is truly important for everyone to confront in dialogue the historical reality of the Reformation, its consequences and the responses it elicited.” Both sides, he said, “can ask forgiveness for the harm they have caused one another.”
Following that meeting, Philippa Hitchen sat down with the president of the World Lutheran Federation, Bishop Munib Younan to discuss progress in the ecumenical dialogue and hopes on the horizons for the upcoming anniversary of the Reformation….

“We are always touched by the warmth and humility he shows to all of us – this is a spirit of love and ecumenism….
We visit him as the Lutheran World Federation, representing 142 churches in 79 countries, for two reasons: firstly the work of our Catholic-Lutheran Commission has come up with a document called From Conflict to Communion, that means conflict is a matter of the past, communion is a matter of the future and I think this is essential theologically also that we ‘re moving to see each other as a communion of churches…
Secondly, our meeting was to discuss preparations for the Reformation 500 that we’ll be commemorating in 2017 – how can we celebrate it together?
We want to have it in 3 ways: globally, because the Gospel is global today, it’s not only in Europe or the Middle East and that is something to rejoice in, the freshness of the Gospel..
Secondly, we have to rejoice also for the ecumenical work of the last 50 years that we’ve had with the Catholic and other churches. We thank the Lord that it is possible today to dialogue, bringing our differences but looking to our common witness…
And thirdly, each church needs reformation…there is no church that does not need the Holy Spirit to renew it, in order to be a living witness in our world….”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his gratitude for the “many advances made in relations between Lutherans and Catholics in these past decades, not only through theological dialogue, but also through fraternal cooperation in a variety of pastoral settings, and above all, in the commitment to progress in spiritual ecumenism.” 


The Pope made the comment in an audience in the Vatican Monday with members of the Lutheran World Federation and the representatives of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity. And “spiritual ecumenism,” he remarked, “constitutes the soul of our journey towards full communion.” 

In noting the fifty year old theological dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics and the forthcoming five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, Pope Francis said he believed it “is truly important for everyone to confront in dialogue the historical reality of the Reformation, its consequences and the responses it elicited.” Both sides, he said, “can ask forgiveness for the harm they have caused one another.”

Despite “no lack of difficulties” in the dialogue, the Pope expressed hope that the conversation would continue to address fundamental questions and differences in “anthropology and ethics” and lead to “reconciliation and communion.”
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Below we publish the prepared text of the Pope's remarks:


Dear Lutheran brothers and sisters,

I warmly welcome you, the members of the Lutheran World Federation and the representatives of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity. This meeting follows upon my very cordial and pleasant meeting with you, dear Bishop Younan, and with the Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Reverend Junge, during the inaugural celebration of my ministry as the Bishop of Rome.


It is with a sense of profound gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ that I think of the many advances made in relations between Lutherans and Catholics in these past decades, not only through theological dialogue, but also through fraternal cooperation in a variety of pastoral settings, and above all, in the commitment to progress in spiritual ecumenism. In a certain sense, this last area constitutes the soul of our journey towards full communion, and permits us even now a foretaste of its results, however imperfect. In the measure in which we draw closer to our Lord Jesus Christ in humility of spirit, we are certain to draw closer to one another. And, in the measure in which we ask the Lord for the gift of unity, we are sure that he will take us by the hand and be our guide.


This year, as a result of a now fifty year old theological dialogue and with a view to the commemoration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, the text of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity was published, with the significant title: From Conflict to Communion. Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017. I believe that it is truly important for everyone to confront in dialogue the historical reality of the Reformation, its consequences and the responses it elicited. Catholics and Lutherans can ask forgiveness for the harm they have caused one another and for their offenses committed in the sight of God. Together we can rejoice in the longing for unity which the Lord has awakened in our hearts, and which makes us look with hope to the future.


In light of this decades-long journey and of the many examples of fraternal communion between Lutherans and Catholics which we have witnessed, and encouraged by faith in the grace given to us in the Lord Jesus Christ, I am certain that we will continue our journey of dialogue and of communion, addressing fundamental questions as well as differences in the fields of anthropology and ethics. Certainly, there are no lack of difficulties, and none will lack in the future. They will continue to require patience, dialogue and mutual understanding. But we must not be afraid! We know well – as Benedict XVI often reminded us – that unity is not primarily the fruit of our labours, but the working of the Holy Spirit, to whom we must open our hearts in faith, so that he will lead us along the paths of reconciliation and communion. 


Blessed John Paul II asked: “How can we proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation without at the same time being committed to working for reconciliation between Christians?” (Ut Unum Sint, 98). May the faithful and constant prayer of our communities sustain theological dialogue, the renewal of life and the conversion of hearts, so that, with the Triune God, we will be able to journey together toward the fulfilment of Jesus’ desire that all may be one.

SHARED FROM RADIO VATICANA

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