From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSAnews] Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed churches

Date 26 Feb 2001 13:03:33

Note #6404 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed churches 
discuss indulgences

Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed churches 
discuss indulgences

Meeting aimed at - understanding, - not agreement

by Peggy Polk
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY - Representatives of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed
churches have held a historic meeting in Rome to exchange views on the
divisive issue of indulgences, the Vatican reported Feb. 14.
	The Vatican said it was the first - ecumenical theological consultation on
the theme of indulgences - since the birth of Protestantism in the
Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries.
	The sale of indulgences by corrupt churchmen of the time was one of the
issues that Martin Luther protested in his theses of Oct. 31, 1517, and
which ultimately led to the Protestant breakaway from the Roman Catholic
	Protestants reject the concept of indulgences, but Catholics have continued
to  believe that an indulgence - remission of temporal punishment for sins ?
can be gained through penitence and contrition.
	The granting of indulgences was a key feature of last year?s Holy Year
observances by Roman Catholics.
	The Vatican said leaders of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
Unity, the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed
Churches met in Rome Feb. 9 and 10.
	"The purpose was to clarify historical, theological and pastoral issues
related to indulgences in order to come to a better understanding of each
other," the Vatican said. "It (the meeting) did not aim at an agreement on
	While acknowledging "there have been long?standing differences between the
Roman Catholic Church and the churches of the Reformation" on the issue of
indulgences, the Vatican said the consultation "took place in a positive
atmosphere which lent itself to honest and constructive discussion."
	The participants prayed together and discussed papers presented by six
scholars, one of them a woman. The Vatican said the papers will be published
to serve as a basis for further discussion.
	Gerhard L. Mueller of Munich and Jared Wicks, a Jesuit, presented the Roman
Catholic understanding of indulgences. Responding for the Protestants were
Michael Root, a Lutheran, of Columbus, Ohio; the Rev. Ellen Babinsky, a
Presbyterian from Austin, Texas; Theodor Dieter, Lutheran, of Strasbourg,
France; and George Sabra, Reformed, of Beirut, Lebanon.
	The sessions were chaired by Bishop Walter Kasper, the No. 2 prelate on the
Vatican council who was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II the next week;
the Rev. Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation;
and the Rev. Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of
Reformed Churches. Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of

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