Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation

Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation

Article excerpt

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church jointly held an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation on 31 October 2016 in Lund, Sweden. Locally cohosted by the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm, the event highlighted the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue, particularly in anticipation of the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017. It was held in two parts: a common prayer service in Lund cathedral and a public event at Malm'o Arena. Pope Francis, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, and LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge led the common prayer service and arena event in conjunction with leaders from the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm. We document here the Joint Statement signed during the common prayer service by Pope Francis and Bishop Younan, the homily of Pope Francis, and the sermon of Dr funge. Other documents are available at www.1und2016.net

Joint Statement on the Occasion of the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation

Lund, 31 October 2016

"Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit
by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you
abide in me" (John 15:4).

With thankful hearts

With this Joint Statement, we express joyful gratitude to God for this moment of common prayer in the Cathedral of Lund, as we begin the year commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Fifty years of sustained and fruitful ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans have helped us to overcome many differences, and have deepened our mutual understanding and trust. At the same time, we have drawn closer to one another through joint service to our neighbours--often in circumstances of suffering and persecution. Through dialogue and shared witness we are no longer strangers. Rather, we have learned that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

Moving from conflict to communion

While we are profoundly thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, we also confess and lament before Christ that Lutherans and Catholics have wounded the visible unity of the Church. Theological differences were accompanied by prejudice and conflicts, and religion was instrumentalized for political ends. Our common faith in Jesus Christ and our baptism demand of us a daily conversion, by which we cast off the historical disagreements and conflicts that impede the ministry of reconciliation. While the past cannot be changed, what is remembered and how it is remembered can be transformed. We pray for the healing of our wounds and of the memories that cloud our view of one another. We emphatically reject all hatred and violence, past and present, especially that expressed in the name of religion. Today, we hear God's command to set aside all conflict. We recognize that we are freed by grace to move towards the communion to which God continually calls us.

Our commitment to common witness

As we move beyond those episodes in history that burden us, we pledge to witness together to God's merciful grace, made visible in the crucified and risen Christ. Aware that the way we relate to one another shapes our witness to the Gospel, we commit ourselves to further growth in communion rooted in Baptism, as we seek to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder us from attaining full unity. Christ desires that we be one, so that the world may believe (cf. John 17:23).

Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God's redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. …

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