Another dialogue after an endless number between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church took place again in Krakow. Together they emphasized the achievements so far, the points that still need to be clarified and the further milestones.
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The next dialogue in the endless chain
The Catholic and Lutheran churches have met again for a common dialogue. In Krakow, Poland, top officials from the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) met on Tuesday to jointly emphasize cooperation in the context of ecumenism.
According to Vatican News, the final lecture was given by the General Secretary of the LWF, Anne Burghardt, and the papal commissioner for ecumenism, Cardinal Kurt Koch. Using a joint document, both announced a declaration of intent to advance the unity of the church. In the self-image of the Roman Catholic Church it is not about different churches, but only about the unity within the one church.
Final words read out together
In the word read out together, the representatives announced the joy of Catholics and Lutherans in having reached a joint consensus on justification. “Freed by God’s grace and forgiveness, we are united by baptism and faith.” The “history of separation” cannot be undone, but it can “become part of our history of reconciliation.”
Still open points for clarification
The excommunication of Martin Luther and the designation of the Pope as Antichrist in the Lutheran confessional writings are still in the room. Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Church of Rome in his time and today this still “represents a stumbling block” to some. With the death of the reformer, excommunication had long since lost its direct effect and Lutherans were “neither enemies nor strangers, but sisters and brothers” for Catholics.
Only the reformer Martin Luther is often highlighted, who identified the papacy as the Antichrist described in the Bible. This is not Luther’s unique selling point. The list is very long (Info).
Today, the Lutheran World Federation no longer supports Luther’s view that the papacy was the Antichrist (Info). Nevertheless, the reformer’s corresponding confessional writings still apply. This is still a stumbling block for the Catholic Church. Another open question is the “Ministry of Peter” and the “mystery of the Church, its unity and its uniqueness”. In the course of the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, special attention should therefore be paid to these points.
New “milestone” targeted
An interim goal is the 500th anniversary celebration of the “Augsburg Confession” in 2030. In 1530, reformers first proclaimed their faith according to the Wittenberg Reformation. They want to work towards a “common word” which would lead to a milestone on the path from “conflict to community”, as was the case with the “joint declaration on the doctrine of justification”.
Cardinal Koch emphasized the “sacrament of baptism” as an element of connection. “Holy Baptism” is a “sacrament of justification and unity,” said the cardinal.
The basis is a rotten compromise
The “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” (1999) was actually a milestone in the course of “reunification within the church”. The common confession of the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation is:
A wording that could well be accepted by Lutherans or Evangelicals as the justification as previously understood. In fact, this doctrine of justification was also recognized. But in reality it is an extremely rotten compromise. One could also speak of a “rubber paragraph”.
It already fails because of the definition “by grace in through faith”. At this point it remains completely unclear who grants this grace. The gospel speaks here of Jesus’ grace alone. The Church of Rome speaks of Jesus’ grace, Mary’s intercession, the priest’s grace and of course the Pope’s grace.
The following context, “faith in Christ’s saving act“, can also be interpreted in several ways. The Gospel speaks of faith in the sacrificial death and blood of Jesus Christ and in His resurrection. The Church of Rome speaks of the countless good deeds of Christ. According to Catholic teaching, the death of Jesus was not necessary for the justification of people(Alphonsus Liguori – Info).
This joint declaration clearly plays into the hands of the Church of Rome and it is completely incomprehensible that the “scholars” of the Lutheran Church could or wanted to agree to such a consensus.
Baptism is actual communion
The “link of baptism” highlighted by Cardinal Koch can be left alone in this case. Because this is actually true.
Neither the so-called baptism of the Roman Catholic Church nor the so-called baptism of the Evangelical or Lutheran churches correspond to the baptism of the Gospel. This begins with infant baptism and ends with the practice of “watering” the person being baptized. This ritual cannot correspond to the symbolism of baptism according to the Gospel(Info). Therefore, on this point the mother church and her daughter definitely have something in common.