Vatican Caution On Catholic-Lutheran Accord

VATICAN, Mar. 26, 01 ( - The Vatican has issued a new caution regarding last year's joint Catholic-Lutheran statement on justification, pointing out that the statement can only be understood properly in light of the accompanying statements put forward by the Holy See.

In a new statement, jointly drafted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, the Vatican observes that while "the Lutheran conception is no longer condemned by the Catholic Church," still there remain some important doctrinal differences. The new Vatican statement appeared in the March 25 issue of L'Osservatore Romano.

The Vatican cautions against "some interpretations that are not pertinent" to the joint Catholic-Lutheran statement. By guarding against such misinterpretation, the statement points out, both groups can protect the future development of common theological positions.

The new Vatican statement is apparently a response to the suggestions offered by some Catholics-- especially in Germany, where the joint Catholic-Lutheran statement was formally signed-- that members of the two faiths should now be able to celebrate the Eucharist together. Serious doctrinal disagreements remain between the faiths, the Holy See points out, and "only when they are resolved can we celebrate the Eucharist in truth, as an expression of our unity with Christ and with each other."

Today, the statement continues, "when there is no unity on essential doctrinal matters, the common celebration of the Eucharist would not be truthful, and could suggest that the division among Christians is insurmountable." It would, therefore, be counterproductive for the long-term goal of achieving full Christian unity.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity also recall that when the joint Catholic- Lutheran statement was issued, the Holy See also issued an accompanying statement indicating that the teachings of the Council of Trent and Vatican I were not being changed. Thus the Catholic Church is not altering her position regarding justification by faith.

Furthermore, the Vatican points out that when the Catholic-Lutheran statement was signed, Cardinal Edward Cassidy-- who was, at the time, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and the Vatican representative at the signing ceremony-- observed that while the joint statement was an important step toward theological accord, "it is not the end of the road." The cardinal observed at that time: "A lot more work is still to be done."

Catholic World News Service - Vatican Update
26. mars 2001

av Webmaster publisert 27.03.2001, sist endret 27.03.2001 - 09:30