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Signing of Joint Declaration on Doctrine of Justification

AUGSBURG, OCT 31 (ZENIT).- The German city of Augsburg -- where in 1530 Martin Luther proclaimed the Confession that established the foundation of his Church, today witnessed one of the most important steps in the history of dialogue between Catholics and Protestants. This morning, Catholics and Lutherans signed a joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, represented the Catholic Church; Christian Krause, president of the World Lutheran Federation represented the Lutheran Church.

"Our task is not only to continue with the building, but, unfortunately, we also have the duty of seeking to repair the damage that has been done to that building by the storms, conflicts and, at times, man-made earthquakes." The edifice, to which the Australian Cardinal was referring before signing the joint Declaration, is the Church founded on Christ -- the corner stone.

The document, over which John Paul II expressed his satisfaction publicly today, lifts past excommunications and reaches a fundamental consensus on the doctrine of grace in relation to human works, the cause of controversy between Protestants and Catholics for almost five centuries.

The key phrase of the document is in paragraph no. 15: "Together we confess that we are accepted by God and we receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts, empowers us, and calls us to do good works, not on the basis of our merits but only through grace and faith in the salvific work of Christ."

During the solemn ceremony, which was held in an Evangelical Church, Bishop Krause explained that "what unites the two confessions is stronger than what differentiates or divides them." This is where the theological dialogue is rooted, which must take new steps." But the theological consensus reached, also calls for action in favor of the neediest, the president of the Lutherans worldwide, said.

The signing of the Declaration was preceded this morning by a series of Masses in the city's parishes. Among others, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop of Prague and president of the Council of Catholic Episcopal Conferences, celebrated a Mass. A procession was also held, which began in the Catholic Cathedral, a place surrounded by reminders of Luther and the vicissitudes of the 16th century.



av Webmaster publisert 02.11.1999, sist endret 02.11.1999 - 21:34