Lutheran World Federation Assembly delegates received greetings from a dozen ecumenical guests, including Samuel Nafzger, general secretary of the International Lutheran Council. The council includes the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod and several churches that aren't LWF members. The ILC and the LWF began talks in 2002 that will continue in November.
Perhaps the most warmly received guest was Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Vatican. Kasper said his church stands behind its signature on The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1999), which removed a major stumbling block to closer ties for Lutherans and Roman Catholics.
"It is up to us now to translate [justification] into the language [and] the context in dealing with the problems of today," he said. "This message should and can become our common message and common witness."
Kasper called for a spiritual communion of prayer, forgiveness and reconciliation of "normal Christians," not just church professionals. Christian witness will only be convincing if "we are able to heal the wounds of our own divisions," he said. "There is common basis, a chance" for eucharistic sharing but not without serious theological dialogue. "No blueprint for the future is possible," he added. "This is in the hands of God's Spirit, and he is always good for a surprise."
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