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Senior Lutheran pastor converts to Catholicism

A senior Lutheran clergyman has become a Catholic, the French Catholic newspaper, La Croix, reported yesterday.

Rev Michel Viot, 57, who was a Lutheran ecclesiastical inspector in Paris, told La Croix he decided to become a Catholic in 1999, after the two churches signed a joint declaration marking the resolution of many doctrinal disputes which dated back to the Reformation.

"In order that the world believes, it is necessary that Christians are united," Rev Viot told La Croix.

He said he thought he was the first pastor of such a high rank to become a Catholic. His Lutheran status was equivalent to that of a bishop.

Rev Viot says he hopes to become a Catholic priest. He will first spend some time as a lay worker in a Catholic parish.