Leaders of the Catholic and Lutheran churches in Australia will come together to celebrate the signing of the Joint Lutheran and Catholic Declaration on Justification in Sydney tonight.
   The service will be jointly led by Cardinal Edward Clancy, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Rev. Dr Lance Steicke, President of the Lutheran Church of Australia.
   The Joint Declaration which has been described as a 'major triumph for ecumenism' has ended a dispute that was at the heart of one of Christianity's greatest schisms and brings to an end nearly 500 years of mutual condemnations and, at times, wars and persecutions.
   A central dispute during the Protestant Reformation was whether believers were justified and saved by grace alone or whether salvation required a combination of grace and good works.
   Soon after Vatican II an international dialogue was set up between Catholics and Lutherans, resulting in the historic signing of the International Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between Catholics and Lutherans which took place in Augsburg, Germany in October 1999.
   Fr Gerard Kelly of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, said "It is the result of careful, honest and frank dialogue.
   "It is a genuine act of mutual recognition of a common faith on the central points of the doctrine of justification. The joint signing is nothing short of a gesture of reconciliation by both churches. It will be the basis for further dialogue and further steps towards unity."
Cath Comm (Syd) 2/3/00

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