Lutherans and Catholics Continue Ecumenical Dialogue

The president of the LWF and the Salvadorian Roman Catholic Archbishop discussed the differences and similarities between the two faiths, and called on the “spirit of ecumenism” to unite the two bodie
( [email protected] ) Sep 20, 2004 01:08 PM EDT

In an effort to improve the ongoing dialogues between the Lutheran and Roman Catholic faiths, the president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) met with the Salvadoran Roman Catholic Archbishop for a “cordial, honest conversation” about differences and similarities in the two faiths.

“We had a very cordial, and I believe honest conversation. We begun to talk about the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. It is always good as a Lutheran leader and a Roman Catholic leader to begin by affirming what we have in common,” said Bishop Mark S. Hanson, president of the LWF and head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“The task of the dialogues is to work on the theological issues that continue to divide us,” Hanson said, adding that despite the differences, they are united “also embrace a spirit of ecumenism.”

The Salvadorian Archbishop Monsignor Fernando Saenz Lacalle said the meeting was crucial for the spirit of ecumenism between the two.

“The visit was very interesting in that Hanson is not only a person who has left a mark within the Lutheran communion but also in the Christian world,” said Lacalle.

Lacalle also took note of the upcoming anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, a statement that was signed by both the LWF and the Catholic Church to be true in 1999. The agreement, which took place in Augsburg, Germany, was the fruit of more than 30 years of bilateral dialogues, and symbolized a “consensus in basic truths concerning justification.”

“In brief we considered (during the meeting) the importance of October 31 when we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” Lacalle added. “I believe that the more we are faithful to the evangelical spirit the more we are united.”

According to the LWF release on Sept 17, several other Lutheran leaders were in attendance, including: the Bishop Medardo E. Gómez Soto of the Salvadoran Lutheran Synod (SLS); LWF Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rev. Victoria Cortéz Rodríguez; and Rev. Martin Junge, LWF Area Secretary for the Latin American and Caribbean region.