Kardinal Cassidy forklarer Felleserklæringens betydning


VATICAN CITY, NOV 2 (ZENIT).- An historic step was taken on October 31, in the progress of the ecumenical dialogue, when a Joint Declaration was signed on the Doctrine of Justification by the Catholic Church and the World Lutheran Federation, in the German city of Augsburg.

This event was described by John Paul II as a "consoling sign" on the eve of the Jubilee of the Year 2000, and as "a corner stone on the complex road to the reconstruction of full unity among Christians."

Hundreds of guests from all over the world participated in the ceremony, along with Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Bishop Christian Krause, president of the World Lutheran Federation. The German media consider the event as a decisive change for relations between Catholics and Protestants. The change comes almost 500 years after the Reformation instigated by Martin Luther, with his famous 95 theses nailed to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

Cardinal Cassidy pointed out the significance of this ecumenical step, during an interview on Vatican Radio, in which he explained that it "touches on one of the most important questions at the time of the Reformation. It could be said that it was a central issue in the situation that caused the division of the Western Church. Now, we and the Lutherans from all over the world, have been able to find a formula to express the same faith in the fundamental truth of justification, although we put the accent on different aspects."

The Australian Cardinal believes that the agreement closes a wound that was opened almost five centuries ago, "as this division, which goes back to the time of Luther, caused the condemnations by the Catholic Church, as well as the Lutheran condemnations of Catholics. Today the document states clearly that those condemnations of the past are no longer applicable."

The Joint Declaration is also very important because it addresses the very matter of man's salvation.

"It is very profound," Cardinal Cassidy continued, "because -- above all, it is concerned with salvation, which comes from Our Lord Jesus Christ; the new life, which we are called to live thanks to Baptism; justification, as in Baptism a new life begins that leads us to sanctity and eternal life. I would say that it is more a spiritual question than a theological one. This act of salvation is both divine -- as it is Jesus Christ who saves us -- and human, as we must collaborate with grace. The Lord gives us the grace to collaborate with grace."

Although it has taken a giant step, communion with Lutherans is still far from complete. There are very important matters still pending, such as the sacraments, for example.

"This fundamental point opens the door to the coming century. The Holy Father has requested that, in view of the preparation for the Jubilee, initiatives be promoted that will unite Christians even more. We have not arrived at the end of the road. There are many questions that remain to be resolved. In a few words: we must continue to work, as the Pope has said: 'It is a long and difficult road, but full of joy,' " the Cardinal concluded.



av Webmaster publisert 03.11.1999, sist endret 03.11.1999 - 10:53