‘What we have in common is far more than that which still divides us’

Catholics, Lutherans look toward Christian unity in Reformation statement

Pictured above is Pope Francis praying during a visit to the Lutheran church in Rome in November 2015. (Photo credit: Associated Press)

The Reformation anniversary gives us a renewed impetus to work for reconciliation, said a statement released jointly Tuesday by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation.

“We recognize that while the past cannot be changed, its influence upon us today can be transformed to become a stimulus for growing communion, and a sign of hope for the world to overcome division and fragmentation,” it said Oct. 31.

“Again, it has become clear that what we have in common is far more than that which still divides us.”

The statement was released to mark the end of the year of common commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is the Roman Curia’s office for ecumenism, while the Lutheran World Federation is the largest communion of Lutheran ecclesial communities. In the US, the Lutheran World Federation includes the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, but neither the Missouri nor Wisconsin Synods.

The common commemoration was opened last year with an ecumenical prayer service between Lutherans and Catholics at the Lutheran cathedral in Lund, Sweden during the Pope’s Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016 visit.

During the service, Catholics and Lutherans read out five joint ecumenical commitments, including the commitment to always begin from a perspective of unity. Pope Francis and Munib Younan, then-president of the Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran bishop of Jordan and the Holy Land, also signed a joint statement.

Quoting the 2016 declaration between Pope Francis and Younan, this year’s statement acknowledged the pain of disunity, particularly that caused by the inability to share in the Eucharist.

One positive effect of the past year’s common commemoration has been viewing the Reformation with an ecumenical perspective for the first time, it concluded.

“In the face of so many blessings along the way, we raise our hearts in praise of the Triune God for the mercy we receive.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

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  1. Michael McDermott says:

    I have read with great care the positions on Justification, whether by Grace Alone or in Conjunction with Good Works, we May be Saved.

    However, the subject of the Real Presence of the Christ in the Eucharist is one that I have not seen much enlightening discussion of, and I would Appreciate More Enlightenmen regardingf the Catholic Position, compared to other offshoots.

    Really.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      I am a convert from Lutheranism, though I was basically raised in a Catholic family that didn’t actually understand it’s Lutheran roots very well. When I came of age and decided for myself what I should believe, I did a lot of deep digging about this very issue, and what I found is that most American Lutherans don’t understand their own faith very well. It had become Americanized and diluted with other protestant denominations. The Lutheran faith says that “Christ is really and truly present in with and under the forms of bread and wine”. That is often called “consubstantiation”, but I think most current scholars think that term diminishes the understanding of what happens at Mass. Some Lutheran parishes reserve the Eucharist, many…

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      After receiving the Eucharist, the minister says “May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and his precious blood strengthen and preserve you unto everlasting life”. Vatican II had a profound affect on Lutherans. Most American Lutheran parishes started celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday instead of just 4 Sundays a year, which was the practice in other protestant denominations. They took Vatican II’s call that the Eucharist be the source and summit of Christian life to heart. They went from a consecration that was the bare words of institution to a series of full Eucharistic prayers, some of which are almost word for word the Catholic eucharistic prayers. And the order of Mass is almost identical, except that the Peace is shared before…

    • Anonymous says:

      on this page you can search for the word Eucharist, if this is what you meant by your statement
      http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/ecumenical-documents-and-news-releases.cfm

  2. Just incredible. Beyond disturbing.

  3. It being a Holy Day of Obligation, let us to remember to pray for all souls, especially that of Francis and others in the religiius life.

  4. Clinton R. says:

    The only unity possible is for all men to enter or return to the One Holy Catholic Church. How many churches did Christ found? Did He not build His Church upon Peter? The consequence of Luther’s revolt and break from the Church is the loss of the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      You better have that conversation with the sedevacantists and SSPXers of the world. I basically agree with you, but right now, I think Lutherans are more likely to come to Rome than Archbishop Fellay is, and certainly more so than the groups that broke away from SSPX.

      On a side note, I wouldn’t discount the probability that some Lutherans in Europe retained Apostolic Succession and therefore have a valid Eucharist. It’s more likely than most people give credit to.

  5. Unfortunately, because of sin the flock has been divided. The sinfulness of some Catholics at the time of Martin Luther is partially the blame. Also, the sinfulness of some Protestants, including Luther, is partially the blame. There are now 23,000 different Protestant denominations in the USA. Perhaps, someday unity will be restored through our prayers, fasting, dialogue and God’s intervention.

  6. Let us work together where we can. Debate or discuss points of theological difference in a civil manner.
    Let’s not go back to the violent religious wars [ blame on both sides] of past centuries. We are all creatures of the same God.

  7. Poor Francis and thereby poor us!

    Does he not see, o does her ignore, the Physical Presence of Almighty God in His Church, founded therein?

    A “church which is poorer” indeed!

  8. Sadly, Francis and his followeres are apparently more open to those Lutherans that broke away and were justifiably excommunicated 500 years ago than to those Roman Catholics today that have held to the Roman Catholic faith opposing the Lutheran-like Reformations of V2 and its aftermath protestant church. Pray the Rosary for Our Lord and Lady to guide you home.

    • Anonymous says:

      He has been very generous with the SSPX. I don’t know if he even knows that your Church exists (I am under the impression that you go to St. Gertrude the Great. Forgive my error if I am wrong.) I don’t think the bishop there would care what Pope Francis says but can contact Pope Francis through twitter if you want.

  9. When all the fumigating is complete, there is little that divides the Roman Catholic Church and many other denominations. Some prefer to make the differences large, but the Pope is correct in asking us to focus on our sameness. Lutherans believe in the true presence in the form of bread and wine. Their liturgies are almost word for word those of our Roman Missal. Their belief in justification is now the same as that of the RC Church. The papers are signed indicating that it is so. It’s important to acknowledge that non-Catholics are not evil people, but people who believe strongly in Christ’s redeeming grace. They have the same Creed as we do.

  10. Bob One, What are we to do with the likes of deceived and confused like yourself. Guess we can only pray that those like you receive graces to see the truth. Ecumenism has not led the Lutherans and other Protestants to accept and return to Roman Catholicism, but the opposite, for Roman Catholics to become Protestant. Case in point:

  11. Bob One, . . Case in point: National surveys show 2/3rds of V2 members like the Lutherans and other Protestants don’t believe in transubstantiation, rather communion is merely a symbol. V2 and Paul VIth abolished the Tridentine Latin Mass. I have an AP press report with Paul VIths verbal command so directing onlt the Novus Ordo mass was permitted. . . .

  12. Bob One, The Novus Ordo mass was choreographed with the help of 6 non-Catholic ministers and rabbis. That is why the Novus Ordo mass looks so much like the Lutheran service, not vise-versa. They also haven’t the same 7 Holy Sacraments, Apostolic succession, and very importantly as great of love, trust, faith, and reverence of our Blessed Mother of God! V2 fell from grace!

  13. V2 members need to study their heritage, their Church history; but not from post V2 documents, rather the plethora of old pre-V2 documents that haven’t been destroyed. Those less than 60 years old, for the most part know only post V2. The Roman Catholic Church pre -V2 is completely foreign to them in RC faith teachings, the 7 Holy Sacraments and the Tridentine Latin Mass of all Ages as prescribed by all the Popes until V2.

  14. Bob One, Ecumenism is only good if it means Lutherans and other Protestants convert to the Roman Catholic Church, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, not reformed by men.

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