The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


LWF, Vatican ready to sign document

A joint declaration on justification is now ready for signing by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church. Date and place for the signing were to be announced jointly June 11 (after press time for this issue) by Ishmael Noko, LWF general secretary, and Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

"Now it can be declared without reservation that the doctrinal condemnations which were set forth mutually by the Lutheran and Catholic sides at the time of the Reformation do not apply to the teaching on justification by the two parties expressed in the Joint Declaration," Noko said.

On the basis of responses from its member churches, the LWF Council had affirmed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification on June 16, 1998. When the Vatican responded a week later, it was clear that the two churches had not affirmed the document in the same way.

Discussion between the churches in recent months produced both the "Official Common Statement" and a short, explanatory "Annex."

In a letter to Noko, Cassidy said, "After due consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I am now able to inform you that the texts of the 'Official Common Statement' and the 'Annex' have been accepted by the Holy See. I am authorized therefore to sign the 'Official Common Statement' together with the Joint Declaration on behalf of the Catholic Church at a place and on a date to be jointly agreed on."

The declaration says the churches confess together: "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works." The document is the result of 30 years of discussion between Lutheran and Catholic theologians.


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