The Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation have reached an epoch-making turning-point, said Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary of The Lutheran World Federation. The relationship between Lutherans and Catholics is being transformed “from conflict to communion,” he said during a panel to the Lutheran Church in Rome.
With Junge on the panel were Kurt Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), Bishop Karl-Hinrich Manzke, the Catholic representative of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, and Bishop Gerhard Feige, the chairperson of the Ecumenism Commission of the German Episcopal Conference
The panel announced plans for a common liturgical guide in connection with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The guide will follow on from the dialogue document From Conflict to Communion published jointly in 2013.
The focus of celebrations in 2017 is “Not church division, nor the 500th anniversary of a church and certainly not any heroic actions,” but rather celebrate a “festival of Christ.” The Catholic Church is not demanding repentance of the Lutherans, nor are the Lutherans demanding repentance of the Catholics.
Junge said, “our churches have the same mission: to bear clear witness in word and deed.” Unfortunately, by making the celebration a generic celebration of Christ, the clear witness is lacking.
When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result. The Great Controversy, page 445
The global unity of Lutherans and Roman Catholics lays the foundation for the leading churches of the United States to fulfill their prophetic destiny.