LWF and Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity publish report concluding fifth phase of dialogue
(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) issued a joint press release announcing the online publication of the report of the fifth phase of the Lutheran Commission- Roman Catholic on unity. The report is called Baptism and Growth in Communion.
The new document, which has been in the works for seven years, includes important impulses for ongoing theological and ecclesiological discussion and takes “a significant step in proposing a differentiated consensus on baptism.”
The report seeks to find a language for the ecclesial dimensions of growth in communion. It concludes with six commitments setting a roadmap for ongoing dialogue and growing cooperation at all levels between Lutherans and Catholics. It highlights particular events in recent years that have contributed to the journey “from conflict to communion”, including the joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Lund, Sweden, the declaration of intent endorsing closer collaboration between the LWF world service and the Caritas Internationalis network, as well as local initiatives such as the visit of Pope Francis to the Lutheran parish in Rome in 2015.
Joint exploration trip
Nevertheless, the press release notes that there were difficulties in receiving this report. The LWF Board of Directors studied it and received it in 2019, while the PCPCU and the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expressed their concerns and described the report as “a study document open-ended which is not yet ready to be received”.
Professor Dirk Lange, LWF associate general secretary for ecumenical relations, noted that the differing viewpoints, far from being an obstacle, “lead us to questions at the heart of our Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, which we will explore together in the next phase of the work of the Mixed Commission. The new report, he says, “encourages us to move forward on this journey of joint exploration as we begin to prepare for the sixth phase of the dialogue.”
Different perspectives bring us to questions at the heart of our Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, which we will explore together.
Lange recalled the gifts of a chalice and a paten, made by members of the ecumenical community in Taizé, that LWF leaders gave to Pope Francis during a recent visit to the Vatican in June 2021. During this meeting, Lange said: “The pope encouraged us to pursue our common journey with passion, knowing that ecumenism is not an exercise in ecclesial diplomacy but a journey of grace [….] which purifies memories and hearts, overcomes attitudes of inflexibility and directs towards a renewed communion. Not towards reductive agreements or forms of irenic syncretism, the pope added, but towards a reconciled unity in the midst of differences.”
The report affirms both parties’ commitment to the next stage of dialogue, saying, “Gratefully, Lutherans and Catholics recognize a common faith regarding God’s saving action in baptism. They wish to go further in their reflections on incorporation into the body of Christ and on the ecclesial dimensions of growth in communion. (§2.5.2.)”
The report is available on the LWF and PCPC websites.
Report of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity