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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Cardinal expresses regret over Declaration's delay

Nearly 1,000 people attended a prayer service where ELCA Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson and Cardinal Francis George, Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago, discussed the proposed Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

"Many of us regret deeply that the Holy See's call for further clarification on some points of the consensus document was not made before the Lutheran World Federation finished its long and arduous work of building consensus among its member churches," George said. "As it developed, the Holy See's timing of bringing forth important needs for clarification was a source of embarrassment to the LWF, and I regret that most sincerely."

The dialogue was part of a prayer service Jan. 31 at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Chicago, at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The joint declaration, the result of more than 30 years of dialogue between Lutheran and Catholic theologians, declares a common understanding on justification. The LWF accepted the document last June, but the Vatican unexpectedly asked for more clarifications on some specific points about two weeks later.

"It seems to me that justification is less central in our Roman Catholic hierarchy of truths than it seems to be in the Lutheran understanding of the totality of Christian doctrine," George said. "This difference opens up a very helpful conversation around the perspectives that shape our life with Christ."


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