Catholics and Lutherans Remove Mutual Condemnations

Author: ZENIT



Historic Publication of Joint Declaration on Justification

GENEVA,  11 JUN 1999 (ZENIT).

This morning, the dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans took a giant step forward. The Catholic Church and Lutheran World Federation (LWF) have reached a level of consensus on fundamental truths regarding the doctrine of justification, allowing for the removal of historic condemnations with which the two Christian confessions have mutually sanctioned one another.

During a press conference in Geneva, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Rev. Ishmael Noko, secretary general of the LWF, presented a common statement of the Catholic Church and the LWF on this topic, clearing up lingering questions from last year's "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," which had not achieved final approval on the Catholic side.
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The common statement will be signed on October 30-31 in Augsburg, Germany. This recalls the date on which Martin Luther traditionally nailed his 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517, marking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

The document includes an additional text, an Annex clarifying the Church's understanding of the terms and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, prepared last year by the mixed commission for dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans.

In virtue of the new consensus, the LWF and the Catholic Church declare jointly, "The teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this Declaration does not fall under the condemnations of the Council of Trent." Simultaneously, it states, "The condemnations in the Lutheran Confessions do not apply to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church presented in this Declaration."

Nonetheless, there remains a need for a "continued and deepened study of the Biblical foundations of the doctrine of justification," because this aspect did "not seem to have been given sufficient attention in the Joint Declaration," Cardinal Cassidy stated.

In order to reach full communion between the two Churches on this matter, some aspects of the declaration would have to be clarified, as well as other topics which have yet to be studied on the matter. "We do not claim agreement on all issues related to the doctrine of justification," Rev. Noko said. "Nevertheless, we have reached consensus on the principal points."

Cardinal Cassidy explained that the common statement and its annex have been approved by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose prefect is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Late this May, John Paul II also approved the signing of the Declaration, to be carried out jointly with the LWF. ZE99061106

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