Lutherans and Roman Catholics in the United States and around the world have been in dialogue with one another for over thirty years. Since our original alienation as Christian communities following the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 there has never been the quality and level of sustained engagement in the search for the unity in faith and sacramental life that we have experienced in these few decades since the second Vatican Council. Our future is irreversibly changed by these commitments to full communion as we heed the prayer of Christ: That they all may be one (John 17:21).
We present to you in this brief summary an outline of our hopes for full reconciliation. It includes the story of our journey together in dialogue and some of the conclusions our theologians have reached in their discussion of the biblical faith. We hope that this summary will show the seriousness of what the Holy Spirit is doing among our churches and the hopes we hold out for full reconciliation in God’s time.
The theological discussions and conclusions summarized here need to be studied in depth and translated into a shared heritage so that future generations can look back on our common pilgrimage and build for a future in service to the healing of all that remains of division among our churches.
In many parishes around the country and interchurch families across the land there are deep bonds of fellowship and experiences of common witness that make visible the love that exists among our Christian people. It is our hope that these dialogues will serve as a support for these relationships and as a source of strength for our mission together in the world. It is shared prayer, witness together in the world and a grounding in the truth, that gives texture to the ecumenical journey towards that future that God wills for the Church.
We can only hope that our agreements may come to life in the prayer, witness and study of every congregation and parish in our churches. The summaries here should lead us to read more deeply in the original texts themselves and to study how this grounding in faith may become the basis for common life. This outline will show us a way to understand this heritage and the hopes that it lays out for us as we move forward by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Bishop Richard SklbaBishop Charles MaahsChairs Evangelical Lutheran – Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States