From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
LWF keeps to Joint Declaration in spite of Catholic reservations
FRANK_IMHOFF.email@example.com (FRANK IMHOFF)
25 Jun 1998 09:31:59
Geneva, 25 June 1998 - In spite of Roman Catholic reservations on points of
fundamental significance, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) will remain
committed to its adoption of the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification". "The necessary time must now be taken to clarify and assess
the implications of the Roman Catholic reply as far as the ecumenical
significance of the 'Joint Declaration' is concerned", Noko emphasized at a
meeting with journalists here today.
While Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy and Bishop Pierre Duprey of the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity presented the "Response of
the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the
Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification" at a press
conference in Rome, the LWF almost at the same time called a press
conference at which the general secretary issued the following statement:
Statement by the LWF General Secretary Ishmael Noko
Geneva, June 25, 1998
"I have received the response of the Roman Catholic Church to the 'Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.' And I recognize in this
reply the affirmation that a high degree of agreement has been reached with
regard to justification.
"For the first time since the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church and
the Lutheran churches have responded at the highest international levels to
a commonly developed statement, i.e. the 'Joint Declaration.'
"The authority of the LWF to speak in such a matter is based on its
ability, affirmed in its constitution, to represent the churches in such
matters as the churches assign to it. The process has been mandated by
several LWF Council decisions and a resolution of the Ninth Assembly in
1997. The 'Joint Declaration' process has been conducted in close
interaction with the member churches, with which the fundamental teaching
authority resides according to Lutheran tradition.
"The doctrine of justification, which expresses the central aspects of our
faith, has been the subject of an arduous process of common study and
coordinated judgment between our two communions. The very affirmation of a
consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification is a
significant step forward in the relations between our churches.
"At the same time, the Roman Catholic response, seen as a whole, raises
fundamental questions for our understanding of the official position
adopted by the Roman Catholic Church to the agreements formulated in the
"The necessary time must now be taken to clarify and assess the
implications of the Roman Catholic reply as far as the ecumenical
significance of the 'Joint Declaration' is concerned.
"The Lutheran World Federation has declared on the basis of the agreements
presented in the 'Joint Declaration' that the doctrinal condemnations in
the Lutheran confessional writings regarding justification do not apply to
the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as presented in the 'Joint
"I recognize in the Roman Catholic reply that reservations are made on
essential points, whereby the basis becomes unclear for jointly declaring
that the mutual condemnations from the time of the Reformation no longer
apply. It is my hope, nevertheless, that clarification on these essential
points might be reached in the time to come so that the full intention of
the 'Joint Declaration' might be accomplished.
"Even if the 'Joint Declaration' itself states that there are remaining
issues which require further clarification, and in spite of the fact that
the Roman Catholic Church has expressed reservations on points of
fundamental significance, the Lutheran World Federation remains committed
to the resolution it has adopted to the 'Joint Declaration' and to
continued joint efforts in seeking a more extensive common understanding of
"In keeping with the resolution adopted by the LWF Council a week ago, I
shall consult with the LWF President and the Executive Committee to
determine, in coordination with the Roman Catholic Church, how the 'Joint
Declaration' process can be appropriately concluded."
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a global communion of Lutheran
churches. Founded in Lund, Sweden, in 1947, the LWF now has 124 member
churches in 69 countries representing over 57 million of the world s 61
million Lutherans. The LWF headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.
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