From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue Completes Round Ten

Date Thu, 29 Apr 2004 11:31:27 -0500


April 29, 2004

Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue Completes Round Ten

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- With a roll-call vote here on April 23,
members of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United
States unanimously approved "The Church as Koinonia of Salvation:
Its Structures and Ministries," a 69-page document.  The document
is the fruit of the dialogue's 10th round, explaining why both
traditions view the roles of pastors and bishops and of
congregations and dioceses differently, and offering a dozen
recommendations for each church to benefit from the other's
     The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sponsored the 10th
round of talks, which began in September 1998.	The two
traditions have been in formal dialogue in the United States
since 1964.
     The document was finalized at the dialogue's meeting here
April 22-25.  It is to be made public May 5, when it is to be
presented to the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and
Interreligious Affairs of the USCCB and placed on the Web sites
of the respective bodies.
     "Koinonia" is an anglicized Greek word for "communion,"
which is used in the New Testament to designate the church's
unity in faith, sacraments and decision making.
     "This is an exciting time for us, because the work of five
and a half years on this 10th round of dialogue -- The Church as
Koinonia of Salvation: Its Structures and Ministries -- has been
completed," said the Rev. Charles H. Maahs, Lutheran co-chair and
former bishop of the ELCA Central States Synod, Kansas City, Mo.
     People in Lutheran and Roman Catholic congregations who
receive the document will become reacquainted with the ground
that has already been covered in the dialogue, Maahs said.  For
example, this round of the dialogue used the Joint Declaration on
the Doctrine of Justification, signed in 1999 by the Lutheran
World Federation and the Vatican, to explore "opportunities for
agreement" in structures and ministries, he said.
     "One of the recommendations talks about Lutheran and Roman
Catholic bishops working together more" and providing
"opportunities for people in Lutheran and Roman Catholic
congregations to enter into study together," Maahs said.  "This
kind of recommendation will be refreshing and will make a big
difference for our people as a step forward toward our goal of
eventual full communion," he said.
     "If these recommendations are fully accepted and
implemented, the average Catholic will see different things
depending upon where they live -- depending upon the background
and history of the location, the cooperation between the churches
over the past decades," said Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba of
Milwaukee, Catholic co-chair of the dialogue.
     Sklba said he hoped Catholics everywhere would notice "a
regular petition for unity at the prayers of the faithful at
every Eucharistic celebration -- a constant prayer for the
healing of the wounds within which we now live."  He said he
anticipated that Catholics and Lutherans would notice
announcements in their church bulletins describing "mutual
involvement in works of justice and charity in the neighborhood."
     "I also hope that regularly they will see reports that
actions or teaching statements of our respective groups of
bishops will give evidence of having been crafted together" or at
least being produced by one group and given to the other for
reaction or support, Sklba said.  "It's those areas where
Catholics and Lutherans hopefully will see a difference and a
change," he said.
     In addition to approving the text of their report, dialogue
members discussed possible topics for the next round of Lutheran-
Roman Catholic talks.  They decided to recommend "The Hope for
Eternal Life" as the topic for the 11th round, which could
include such topics as purgatory, prayer for the dead and
indulgences.  The next round could begin in 2005.
     Dialogue members discussed the publication of their report
with supporting essays.  Oct. 31, 2004, was the target date for
the book's release.
     In celebratory worship the evening of April 23, Archbishop
Timothy M. Dolan, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee,
welcomed the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA,
and the Rev. Paul W. Stumme-Diers, bishop of the ELCA Greater
Milwaukee Synod, to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Hanson preached, using The Church as Koinonia of Salvation as his
     "We are not yet one in the Eucharist as we are one in
Baptism and one in the Spirit.	That means we are wounded,"
Hanson said.  "Why should we persist?" he asked.  "So that all
may know Christ and have life in his name."
     The theology department of Marquette University, Milwaukee,
hosted an academic forum in which the faculty had an opportunity
to study and critique the dialogue results.  Two dialogue members
made introductory presentations; Dr. Susan K. Wood, SCL, St.
John's University, Collegeville, Minn., discussed the logic used
in the dialogue report; Dr. Michael J. Root, associate in
ministry, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C.,
tackled the question: "So what?"
     Dr. Ralph Del Colle, associate professor of systematic
theology, Christology and Trinitarian theology, and Dr. Mickey L.
Mattox, assistant professor of historical theology, Reformation
studies and Martin Luther, both from Marquette's theology
department, gave responses to the presentations.
     Wood and Root gave their presentations again in a public
discussion at the Lutheran Church of the Redemption, Wauwatosa,
Wis.  The Rev. John H.P. Reumann, retired professor of New
Testament and Greek, Lutheran Theological Seminary at
Philadelphia, introduced the presentations with the history of
the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue and some of the
accomplishments of Lutheran-Catholic cooperation.  Reumann has
been a member of the U.S. dialogue since it began.
     Dialogue members continued their practice of attending a
Catholic mass the Saturday evening and a Lutheran worship service
the Sunday morning of their meetings.  They worshiped together at
St. John's Cathedral and at Mount Zion Lutheran Church,
     Sklba told the Lutheran congregation the dialogue concluded
"that salvation by God's grace is indeed experienced and shared
in each other's churches" and "that the ministries of 'pastor'
and 'bishop' are established by God in service to that communion
of salvation with God and each other."
     "We hope to see signs of ever greater cooperation between
us, as a result of the recommendations that we have made flowing
from our studies," he said.
     "At each meeting we earnestly pray for the gift of
reconciliation, because we understand only too clearly that that
is a gift from God.  It is not something that we can achieve by
our own efforts -- no matter how earnest they may be," Sklba
-- -- --
     A video news report on this story is available at on the ELCA
Web site.  An audio news report is available in either a
RealMedia or
MP3 format on
the Internet.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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