Ecumenism with Lutherans

How does anyone expect ecumenism with Lutherans and others to result in a unification? Either they recant half of their teachings, or Catholics recant half of ours. This will never happen. Therefore such meetings, as these strange celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant revolt, are a waste of time.


Lutherans are still our Christian brethren, and we are making strides to get them back into the proper fold of the Catholic Church.


Yup. Exactly that!

Or just follow your Pope in this instance!

Unification may not happen in my lifetime but it would be nice if our denominations could move closer together.
Reunification would be helped if a number of Protestant denominations are united.
For example, the Real Presence. Many don’t believe in it at all. Though Calvinism and Lutheranism do differ from Catholicism on that, those two could be described as variations instead of an outright rejection of the Real Presence. Luther and Calvin could in some ways act as a magnet with other denominations. Or maybe I’m too optimistic.


One problem with Lutheranism is that it is not a denomination, it is a movement, or series of movements with a common founder. In the US, the larger denomination is mainline liberal ELCA. Each year it moves farther away from other Lutheran denominations, and from the Catholic Church. Let’s say in a given year it takes 3 steps closer to the Catholic Church as a result of these contacts, but it is also moving 7 steps away during that year; so the net
movement is 4 steps farther apart.

The pope and bishops are realistic about denominations, but they have a responsibility to reach out to individuals in those denominations. If we have an opportunity to teach some unfamiliar truths, we may as well use it. There is not a big value in these ecumenical contacts, but worth something.

1 Like

I love my non Catholic brothers and sisters but unless they want to believe exactly what the Catholic Church teaches then I don’t expect them to come over to the Catholic side and they don’t expect me to go over to their side.


I grew up in an ELCA church; I didn’t (and don’t) see such a huge gap between it and Catholicism that the two could never reconcile again.

I’m not denying there are huge hurtles; but, hey, this Lutheran made the leap. :wink:

Disparaging Lutherans is not helpful. Disagreements over theology is expected but equating them with filth is reprehensible.


Lutherans are liturgical. They believe in a real presence (even if not quite like Catholics). They believe in the communion of saints (even if they don’t actively seek their intercession). There’s a lot of common ground that we don’t have with low church Evangelical Protestantism.


That’s true. In Sweden, some in the leadership there deny the Virgin Birth and calling it not possible and other Mainline leaders have said the Resurrection wasn’t real and that the ‘metaphor’ is all that matters (yeah because the Creator of the Universe can’t cause miracles ). In half a century, those denominations will likely cease to exist or better, maybe they will return to faith again but unfortunately the former is more likely.

Some Lutherans are working with the Catholic Church for reunification. Unfortunately, the High Church Lutherans which are within a breadth of being Catholic and the low church Lutherans which are rabid anti-Catholic, all use the same designation, Lutheran. So, it’s hard not to paint them all with the same brush.

1 Like

It is hard to picture the mainline liberals returning to their Lutheran roots. It is more likely they will continue following the media, and describe every non-Lutheran development as “returning to our Lutheran roots”. (Where I live, there are Jesuit and Franciscan schools that use the words “Jesuit” and “Franciscan” and “roots” now far more often than when they really were Jesuit and Franciscan).

However there are other Lutherans (LCMS, or Wisconsin) who don’t talk about ecumenism much, but they are moving closer to Catholics, Orthodox, and other Protestants who oppose secular trends in religion and the culture. You won’t find them at the tea-and-cookies ecumenical gatherings. You might find them standing shoulder to shoulder with RCC in front of the abortion clinic.

1 Like


That isn’t the goal. That’s what they want us to believe the goal is. The real goal is the further “watering down” of the Catholic Faith.


The fact that, in the US at least, Lutherans ordain women, support gay marriage, ordain gay clergy, and believe that abortion is allowable would probably prevent any type of unification with the Catholic Church. Believing in the real presence and saints and liturgical worship is not enough to say we our beliefs are the same. Having come from the Lutheran tradition, I would also add that most Lutherans would be uncomfortable with having decisions made for them since we Catholics don’t vote on budgets, leadership positions, programs, policies, etc. And, only ordained Catholic clergy meet to discuss and make decisions concerning dogma. We can all work together on social issues to better our communities, but unification is not likely.


I take a middle position here. Yes, it is true, there are some Catholics and Protestants who promote ecumenism because they think it will result in diluting the doctrine, the least common denominator. We have to be careful here.

On the other hand, there are some good people, brought up in denominations that, through no fault of them, have slid away from Christian orthodox doctrine. You want to keep open some lines of communication, for the sake of those individuals. In the long run, they should move to some other denomination for Christian teaching, but for now, they are here.

I also think the local state university is a spiritually unwholesome place to study, and worse, to live. But that is where some people are now, so Catholics and others try to make contacts with individuals there.

“The Catholic Dogma,” 1888: “What Protestant Belief In Christ is - .(Protestants) never had any divine faith in Christ. ‘He who does not believe all that Christ has taught,’ says St. Ambrose, ‘denies Christ himself.’ (In Luc. c. 9.) ‘It is absurd for a heretic,’ says St. Thomas Aquinas, ‘to assert that he believes in Jesus Christ. To believe in a man is to give our full assent to his word and to all he teaches. True faith, therefore, is absolute belief in Jesus Christ and in all he has taught. Hence he who does not adhere to all that Jesus Christ has prescribed for our salvation has no more the doctrine of Jesus Christ and of his Church, than the Pagans, Jews and Turk’s have.’ ‘He is’ says Jesus Christ, ‘a heathen and publican.’”

I am posting quotes everywhere on threads sorry guys, I can’t stop. :crazy_face:

But I agree, it is a pointless thing to communicate with non Catholics if the main point of conversation is not conversion.


I personally feel instead of spending so much time and effort trying to move closer to Lutherans and other protestants, I think our time and effort would be much better spent making inroads amongst separated Eastern Christians - the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrians.

Full communion with the Assyrians and some Oriental Orthodox is oh-so-close. I think full communion with the Assyrians and possibly the Copts is very much possible in this current century.

Restoration of full communion with the Eastern Orthodox is going to be less likely - particularly because the Greeks and Russians run the show. And the Greeks and Russians are well known for having rabid anti-Catholics in their ranks. And not just rabid anti-Catholics - those same people generally do not even want communion. Some of them go so far as to wishing the papacy abolished and the pope dead. The anti-Catholic EO also are usually fanatically anti-Western, maniacally anti-Ecumenism, and ferociously against any sort of change or reform whatsoever.

But the Copts, and the whole OO communion, is headed by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and he is a close friend of Pope Francis. Likewise, His Holiness Mar Gewargis III is a great friend of Pope Francis. I would be absolutely ecstatic if either the Assyrians or any of the Orientals restored full communion with the Holy See of Rome.

Lord, may we all be One even as you and the Father are One,


The ELCA as part of the Lutheran World Federation signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification with the Catholic Church noting we had made some progress on the issue of justification and was a step towards unity.

I think our issues as far as unifying further will be moral issues such as women ordination, abortion, and homosexuality.

I have many friends that are members of an ELCA Church who are wonderful Christ centered Christians.

1 Like

I find the statement “Protestants never had any divine faith in Christ” to be scandalously inaccurate, unfair, and bigoted.


What does Jesus want? Does He desire his body unified? Christian faith is, literally, living our Christianity with faith. I do not know if everything done is helpful or not, but inaction should not be an option. St. John Paul wrote the best guideline I have read on this in Ut Unam Sict, but here is a good article.

John Paul II’s “Ecumenical Passion”

Fr. Avery Dulles characterizes the ecumenical vision of John Paul II in this way: “By showing that the quest for unity is grounded in the unalterable will of Christ for his Church, the present pope makes it clear that ecumenism does not depend on prospects of visible success but that it is to be pursued in all times and places, even in the face of indifference and hostility. . . . He makes it clear that Christian unity, if it ever comes about, cannot be a human achievement but only a gift of God. For this reason he keeps the primary emphasis on spiritual ecumenism and prayer. The most effective ecumenism is that which cultivates patience, humility, and fervent trust in the Holy Spirit, who enables us to hope against hope and to leave the future in the hands of God, the sole masterof our destinies” (The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II, 157).

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit