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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Lutheran-Catholic conversations, hug

A longtime friendship between two pastors and the resource "Lutherans and Roman Catholics: Called to Unity" have helped Catholic-Lutheran relationships in a north central area of Pennsylvania heal and prosper.

A year ago, Charles A. Brophy, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Kratzerville, and Joseph A. Celia, priest of St. Pius X Church in Selinsgrove, led 75 people from the congregations through five Sunday evenings of dialogue.

"The experience was a real eye-opener," said Celia. Some told him, "I didn't realize we had so much in common. ... Best of all, people were hungry for more."

The parish-to-parish dialogue was the result of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which was signed by the two church bodies October 1999 in Augsburg, Germany. Said one participant on the evaluation form, "Why did it take nearly 500 years to reach new agreements? Will it take another 500 years to share communion?"

Two more gatherings are scheduled for this fall and another two for next spring.

Celia said a highlight for him was the Lutheran woman who stopped him after the concluding session to thank him and ask whether she could give him a hug. He graciously agreed.

The guide and video the two congregations used, produced by ELCA Pennsylvania synods and Roman Catholic dioceses, are available from Josephine Kase, Office for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, 222 N. 17th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103; (215) 587-3624 or (215) 473-1355.


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