Pope welcomes milestone in dialogue with Lutherans

Meeting yesterday with Lutheran Bishop Mark Hanson, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the "intense" ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, but acknowledged that serious differences remain.

CLICK HERECatholic World News reports that the Holy Father called particular attention to a joint Catholic-Lutheran document on justification, signed in October 1999, which he described as "a significant milestone on our common path to full visible unity."

He added, however, that "differences remain" on the issue of justification, and these differences must still be addressed. He counseled "patience" in the talks, and confidence that perseverance will yield more results.

Pope Benedict said that he hoped future products of the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue would not be confined to "institutional" questions, but would be directed toward "the true source of all ministry in the Church." He explained his point by saying that "the mission of the Church is to witness to the truth of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh."

Both Catholics and Lutherans should be mindful that their ecumenical conversation takes place against a background of rising secularism and skepticism about Christianity, the Pope continued.

As the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation approaches, the Pope said, "we should intensify our efforts to understand more deeply what we have in common and what divides us."

In his own remarks during the Monday audience, Bishop Hanson expressed appreciation for Pope Benedict's clear message of support for ecumenical work. He echoed the Holy Father's suggestion that Catholics and Lutherans can form a shared witness to Christian moral principles on contested public issues, such as bioethical questions. He also noted that their meeting was taking place in the year that marks the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, which provided the impetus for today's ecumenical dialogue.

The meeting between Mark Hanson and Pope Benedict came as representatives of the World Lutheran Federation met with their counterparts at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. These meetings are now annual events.

Catholic-Lutheran dialogue: painstaking progress (Catholic World News 7/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Lutheran World Federation

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8 Nov 2005