First of four items

Lutheran and Catholic Social Services Work Together, click here

Lutheran Friends:  Encouragement and Caution, second of four items.

Some Oblate Associates and Employees have family members who are Lutheran.  Many more have friends who are Lutheran.  Pope Francis visit to Sweden on Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016, was the end of the first era of our better relations with Lutherans, which began with the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).  With the signing of the Five Imperatives by the pope and the Lutheran head bishop on Oct. 31, we begin a second era, which makes our joint witnessing to Jesus more effective and increases the ability of both Churches to work with the poor throughout the world. 

The Five Imperatives may be seen at the end of the document "From Conflict to Communion,"  below. The fact that Oblates from Sweden to Zambia are working closely to help the poor may be seen on the OMI USA JPIC website (www.omiusajpic.org).

However, like even our Church, Lutherans are split between moderates and fundamentalists.  If your relative or friend belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, they belong to the Lutheran World Federation, which signed the Five Imperatives.  If they belong to the Missouri Lutheran Church, or the Wisconsin Synod, they belong a fundamentalist church which does not subscribe to Christian unity (ecumenism).

So if your Lutheran relative or friend is fundamentalist, your contact with them is even more important!  It is through your gentle and prayerful friendship that they will see that Roman Catholics are their true brothers and sisters.  In a crisis or emergency, when you have to work together,  your relationship will grow closer.  If they insult you, try not to respond in kind, but give them good example.

St. Eugene de Mazenod was very aware of the fractures in Christianity, and how they impede our ability to share the love of Jesus.  As Oblate Associates and Employees, let us grow closer to our brothers and sisters in the other Christian Churches, especially Lutherans, since the door has been opened wider by the pope's visit to Sweden.

 


Third of four documents

 

The following document, "Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist:  32 Agreed Statements," (2015) is based on the 2013 World Lutheran Federation-Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity document "From Conflict to Communion."  However, it does not come from two international bodies, but from the USA Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the USA Catholic Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

 Especially the fourth part, pp. 89-117, is very relevant as it explores concretely what still needs to be done. 

 Please note that the US Bishops Committee commended it to the Pontifical Council, but it is not yet approved either by the Vatican or the US Bishops as a body. It has been approved by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and is the subject of the group meeting at Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, TX, as described by Dr. Scott Woodward: click here

"Declaration on the Way:  Church, Ministry and Eucharist: 32 Agreed Statements," Please Click Here

 


Fourth of four documents

 

Oct. 31, 2016:  Pope Francis Travels to Sweden to Join in Celebrating the 499th Anniversary of Luther's Posting His Theses:  The Day That Changed the World.

The American Lutheran scholar Dr. Martin Marty might seem to be exaggerating when he called Oct. 31, 1517 "The Day That Changed the World."  Yet upon further reflection, Luther's action that Oct. 31 began the shredding of Europe into centuries of warfare between Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican (Episcopalian), Presbyterian/Reformed,  Mennonite, etc. And that warfare expanded to North and South America, then Africa and Asia.

With the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), these shredded Churches took a significant step to converge. Many have commented that Vatican II corrected the more glaring abuses that Luther summarized.  Probably the greatest of these abuses was that Luther, followed by most Protestants, concentrated on the continued need of the Reformation of Christianity, while Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodoxy concentrated on the Irreformablity of Christianity.  Vatican II, in several of its documents, described the tension of these two truths with the ancient statement that the Christian Church is both irreformable (divine), and in constant need of reformation (human):  Decree on Ecumenism, #'s 4-5,  Constitution on the Church, #8.

Lutherans are probably the first to admit that they too are in continual need of continual reformation.  Which is one of the major reasons why the Roman Catholic Church, and missionary orders like the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, need the Lutheran Churches:  reformation is more in their bloodstream than in ours. We tend to forget that our Church and our religious order is in continual need of reformation.

As we prepare for Pope Francis' visit to  Sweden, let us pray that all involved will be guided by the Holy Spirit.  May we also work with our Lutheran brethren to make Christ better known, and to join with them for issues of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation.

For the joint document from the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 2013, "From Conflict to Communion," click here.