From the Worldwide Faith News archives

LWF President Hanson and Salvadoran Archbishop Lacalle Discuss

From "Frank Imhoff" <>
Date Sun, 19 Sep 2004 14:47:49 -0500

LWF President Hanson and Salvadoran Archbishop Lacalle Discuss Lutheran-Roman
Catholic Relations
'Diaconia Cannot Just Be Service, It Must Be Prophetic'

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador/GENEVA, 17 September 2004 (LWI) - The president of
the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Bishop Mark S. Hanson met Salvadoran
Roman Catholic Archbishop Monsignor Fernando Saenz Lacalle as part of the
continuing dialogue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. 

"We had a very cordial, and I believe honest conversation. We begun to talk
about the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. It is always
good as a Lutheran leader and a Roman Catholic leader to begin by affirming
what we have in common," Hanson said after the meeting with Lacalle.

Hanson noted that during the meeting both leaders also talked openly about
Lutheran and Roman Catholic differences. 

"The task of the dialogues is to work on the theological issues that continue
to divide us," the LWF president said. While that work goes on, he noted, "we
also embrace a spirit of ecumenism." 

Lacalle said "the visit was very interesting in that Hanson is not only a
person who has left a mark within the Lutheran communion but also in the
Christian world." 

The Salvadoran archbishop described encounters such as the one with Hanson as
very important for sharing common points of view regarding the need for
Christians worldwide to be actively engaged in bringing Christ's message to
all communities. "In brief we considered (during the meeting) the importance
of October 31 when we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," Lacalle underlined. 

Representatives of the LWF and Roman Catholic Church signed the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) on 31 October 1999 in
Augsburg, Germany. The event following more than 30 years of bilateral
dialogues, was an affirmation that the mutual condemnations from the time of
the Reformation do not apply to the teaching on justification as presented in
the JDDJ. A consensus in basic truths concerning justification has been
achieved, but there are remaining differences that are part of the focus on
continuing dialogue.

"I believe that the more we are faithful to the evangelical spirit the more
we are united," Lacalle concluded after the meeting with the Lutheran

Also attending were Bishop Medardo E. Gsmez Soto of the Salvadoran Lutheran
Synod (SLS); LWF Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rev.
Victoria Cortiz Rodrmguez; and Rev. Martin Junge, LWF Area Secretary for the
Latin American and Caribbean region. San Salvador Roman Catholic Auxiliary
Archbishop, Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez was also present.

Hanson said during the encounter, Lacalle "talked a great deal about the
effects of materialism and secularism on the life of individuals. He talked
critically of the role of schools and education, saying in his view education
has become very secular, and stressed the need for personal and moral

Diaconia Must Address Root Causes of Poverty

Commenting on contributions from Gsmez and Cortiz during the meeting with
Lacalle, the LWF president noted, "Both talked very clearly that for us as
Lutherans we cannot just talk about personal morality but we also must talk
about the morality of structures of society. [We must] talk about the
morality of repressive governments, of only a few people controlling the
global wealth and of destroying the creation."

Hanson insisted that for Lutherans "diaconia cannot just be service but must
always be prophetic: it always must help those who are struggling with the
basic human rights of dignity, food, shelter and medicine. We also must equip
those who are victims of society's structures to address the root causes that
bring about their poverty, and to find ways to transform such structures."

Hanson also visited the Divina Providencia Hospital Church, where Archbishop
Arnulfo Romero was assassinated on 24 March 1980 while offering mass. He said
Romero's voice was being heard today through the voice and deeds of the SLS.
The LWF president was on a six-day visit to El Salvador, September 11-16,
invited by the Communion of Lutheran Churches in Central America. (676 words)

(Reported for LWI by Peru-based journalist Razl Gutiirrez.)

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 138 member
churches in 77 countries all over the world, with a membership of nearly 65
million Lutherans. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of
common interest such as ecumenical and inter-faith relations, theology,
humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects
of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva,

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF's information service. Unless
specifically noted, material presented does not represent positions or
opinions of the LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article
contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with

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