Ecumenical Talks
Lutherans, Catholics Talk

In two separate rounds of doctrinal discussions, one in the U.S. and one at the Vatican, Lutherans and Roman Catholics recently found both points of agreement and issues of difference.

In the fifty-fourth meeting of the longest running of the ecumenical talks that began in 1965 with the “open window” of Vatican II, representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod met with members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in September in Illinois to discuss their views on Scripture and tradition.

According to the dialogue statement, both groups agree that Scripture has pre-eminent status as the Word of God; that there are no historically verifiable apostolic traditions not attested to in some way by Scripture; and that doctrine does not necessarily have to be “simply and literally” present in Scripture, but may be deduced from it (e.g., infant baptism).

The statement also lists four other agreements and three remaining principal differences.

Also in September, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), an organization of 114 Lutheran bodies, released a statement on its recent meeting with the Vatican.

In it, the LWF notes a “decisive improvement in Lutheran-Roman Catholic relations” since its first talks with the Vatican in 1967, but it also notes a resurgence among both groups of “theologically defensive attitudes, which endanger ecumenical progress.” However, in closing, the LWF reaffirms its “belief that ecumenism is not optional, but essential to the church.”

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