Ecumenism with Lutherans


I’m sorry I misjudged your thoughts.

Those are beautiful icons by the way. I guess I’m a bad Catholic in that I prefer the Orthodox iconography over the western Catholic icons.

As for why that particular phrase in quotes stood out: there are five particular blasphemies against Mary that we are encouraged to atone for*. One of them is rejection of her perpetual virginity. (And others we won’t mention at this particular time…)

  • Private revelation, not binding on the faithful like public revelation…but “worthy of belief”


Well that would make me even a worse Protestant. :slight_smile:

But maybe I get where you are coming from. Many people just never had the opportunity to experience "everything ". Considering my father-in-law and his interest in Eastern Orthodoxy, I have been to the most amazing monasteries in Russia, Moldova and Romania. On the other hand I even attended mass in St Peters Basilica. I had many experiences and opportunities and I respect Catholicism and the Orthodox. When it doesn’t seem that way either I am misunderstood or the poster just struck a nerve with regards to the post as we all are human.

All the best


I absolutely love them. I find iconology to be such a beautiful part of the Christian faith - western and eastern


I attended a Protestant service with my family (they have yet to find out I converted). In one of the slides during the service, there was an icon of Divine Mercy Jesus (with the rays of white and red). I thought to myself, Little do they know that’s from a vision of a Catholic nun… And the sermon mentioned the great faith of Mary being the Virgin Mother of Word Incarnate even though by human standards, it’s impossible…so I guess those two things were nice…

Are Lutherans and Anglicans the most receptive of icons?

Do they use the term “Mother of God”?

Where do they believe Mary is now?


I would say yes to the first.

Mother of God, Holy Theotokos is doctrinal in Lutheranism, and probably for most Anglicans.

The Assumption, like many parts of Marian teachings, is considered adiaphora in Lutheran tradition. That said, both Lutherans and Anglicans believe in the Communion of Saints. She is with her son.


Joint Declarations are issued on behalf of Catholics, by the hierarchy. They decide the content.

Those who assist the hierarchy in this work are the Church’s best minds in those fields from which they are pressed into service by the Successors of the Apostles.

The Successors of the Apostles decide for all the Faithful and they speak for all the Faithful.

It is to be remembered that the Church proclaimed Martin Luther as Witness of Jesus Christ in 1983, on the occasion of Martin Luther’s 500th birthday.

To know for what purpose the initiatives exist, read the declaration published by the Holy See – From Conflict to Communion. It explains the matter quite clearly

And remember also what Unitatis Redintegratio articulated – the Conciliar teaching of the Pope and all the world’s Catholic Bishops:

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

All of this is certainly most true of the Lutherans.

I would pay tribute to the American bishops and to their periti who have done so much in this year of joint commemoration with our Lutheran sisters and brothers in Christ. I am pleased that, early on, they decided that the Church in America will prolong the commemorative events.

It was a blessing that, in my position, I had the opportunity myself to co-preside beside a Lutheran cleric at one of the Joint Services of Common Prayer, using the liturgy co-promulgated for this purpose by the Holy See.

It was a great privilege extended to me, for in most cases, the Cardinals and Bishops reserved to themselves the historic opportunity to co-preside with their Lutheran counterpart. Looking back to when I was a young priest, I could scarcely have imagined how much we would progress in a mere 50 years, so as to jointly commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.


The document From Conflict to Communion is quite self explanatory and should be read and adhered to by every Catholic – at least those who are intent on being faithful to, and in submission to, the living Magisterium, divinely constituted by the Church’s Founder.


Don Ruggero, I am grateful that you have made your presence known on this rather unfortunate new site. You bring sanity to the discussion at hand, as well as extraordinary knowledge and experience.

So, please explain to this poor Anglican what in the world gets people so very upset about Martin Luther and the Commemoration of the Reformation? I have not seen such vitriol before. It speaks very poorly for your fellow Church members.


Remarkable, isn’t it?

“Unfortunate” is a kind descriptor. The lack of the previous website’s ethos and diligent moderation suggests other terms…such as horrifying, disturbing, toxic, noxious.

What you are seeing, a group so vitriolic, is a very small and particularly radicalised population. In Europe, I would render into English how they would be termed as integralists; I don’t know how the Americans render this sort of attitude of dissent from the contemporary Magisterium into English.

It is this population that was the group being addressed when, in From Conflict to Communion, we read

  1. Catholics and Lutherans realize that they and the communities in which they live out their faith belong to the one body of Christ. The awareness is dawning on Lutherans and Catholics that the struggle of the sixteenth century is over. The reasons for mutually condemning each other’s faith have fallen by the wayside. Thus, Lutherans and Catholics identify five imperatives as they commemorate 2017 together.

Such a mindset has no place in Catholicism today.

Thankfully their mindset and language, which does typify the approach of Catholics of centuries past, was decades ago set aside by the Holy See and the College of Bishops as unacceptable in the face the divine imperative of the ecumenical movement.

Such language and attitudes as you are remarking certainly won’t be found with our Bishops, in our chanceries, or in institutions of higher education and of academic research on any continent. These, rather, are all now thoroughly imbued with the vision articulated in From Conflict to Communion and other parallel declarations and orientations from the Holy See.

In the United States, Declaration on the Way, which was an American project that was completely echoing the work of PCPCU, is an excellent example of where we actually are institutionally.

How is it to be explained? There are Catholics who do not inform themselves of Church teaching or place themselves under the guidance of the shpherds to whom they owe filial piety and obedience.

Unitatis Redintegratio will be 53 years old this month – I will be certainly be celebrating its birthday and remembering its promulgation by Blessed Pope Paul VI – and there is no excuse for a Catholic to be ignorant or not in complete submission to its teachings…and the same is true with the encyclical Ut Unum Sint of Pope Saint John Paul II.

The words of those two documents should be received by every lay Catholic upon their knees with, as would be said traditionally, obsequium. Any attitude not conformed to the mind of the shepherds of the Church on these matters would be attitudes unworthy of Catholics, who should be of one mind and one heart with the college of the Successors of the Apostles.


I trust you are aware of the splendid event held in Westminster Abbey on October 31 in commemoration of the anniversary, a service in which His Eminence, Vincent Cardinal Nichols, was a participant.

The Address was given by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan.

The Right Reverend Dr Martin Lind, Bishop, The Lutheran Church in Great Britain, read Romans 1: 16-17, 3:21-18; and the Reverend Eliza Zikmane, pastor, the United London Latvian Lutheran Church and St Anne’s Lutheran Church, London, read St John 17: 20-26.

The Reverend Torbjørn Holt, the Norwegian Church in London and Chairman of The Lutheran Council of Great Britain, introduced the Act of Penitence. The Dean pronounced the Absolution.

During the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledged the Anglican Communion’s affirmation of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches.

The prayers were led by the Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon and Precentor, and said by: David Lin, Chairman of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain; His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster; Madelaine Mason, the Swedish Church in London; the Reverend Susanne Freddin Skovhus, the Danish Church in London; the Reverend Georg Amann, Deutsche Evangelische Christuskirche, London; and the Reverend Professor Vernon White, Sub-Dean and Canon Theologian.

I hope that the experience of this historic occasion amongst our sisters and brothers of the Anglican Communion in the United States was as memorable and intentionally meaningful as it was for all of us in Europe, Catholic and across all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities.

Best wishes to you. I am only here on the forum in these days of the anniversary. Although ostensibly retired from responsibilities in these eras, I have been requested to lend aid in certain initiatives with which I have long standing familiarity. Priests never do really get to retire! Cheers.


I get the need to separate Luther from today’s Protestants.

In the past, Luther was a heretic. But today he’s celebrated?

Today, (if the stamp design is true), he gets a place of privilege standing with a fellow error-spreader Melanchton holding the Augsburg Confession (some elements which are mutually exclusive with the Catholic faith) - replacing the Blessed Virgin and St. John.

Does hope for future Communion necessitate such recognition of the one that propagated all this…mess?


It’s my understanding that the only synod here in the US that joined in the Ecumenical Celebration for the anniversary was the ELCA which is part of the Lutheran World Federation.

It’s my understanding the confessional Lutherans (LCMS/WELS) did not participate. They still hold to the beliefs in the Concord Book which includes the Pope is the AntiChrist.

Therefore I find it odd that any confessional Lutheran that posts would express unhappiness at some of the Catholics who were upset about this commemoration. Their own synods did not participate at all.

Just a thought.

That said, any step forward is a good step, better than hatred and division.


Golly! You have been taking this Anti-clericalism business seriously, haven’t you.

Any thoughts about politeness, though?


You are the one claiming that the Catholic Church no longer considers Lutherans materially heretic. So you need to prove your statement. As I said, I doubt it. Theres this little detail of the anathemas in the Council of Trent which were addressed directly at anyone who adheres to Luther’s errors.

Again I’m open to hearing what you have to say


Since you seem unable to understand the plain words I have used, let me be even clearer. I have already said it more than once

Look at that post again. Yes, we celebrated Martin Luther’s 500th birthday. In 1983. That was when he was proclaimed by the Catholic Church as Witness of Jesus Christ

Regarding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – which is a larger event than the person of Martin Luther – this is Rome’s position

  1. In 2017, Lutheran and Catholic Christians will commemorate together the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. Lutherans and Catholics today enjoy a growth in mutual understanding, cooperation, and respect. They have come to acknowledge that more unites than divides them: above all, common faith in the Triune God and the revelation in Jesus Christ, as well as recognition of the basic truths of the doctrine of justification

  2. Already the 450th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1980 offered both Lutherans and Catholics the opportunity to develop a common understanding of the foundational truths of the faith by pointing to Jesus Christ as the living center of our Christian faith. On the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth in 1983, the international dialogue between Roman Catholics and Lutherans jointly affirmed a number of Luther’s essential concerns. The commission’s report designated him “Witness to Jesus Christ” and declared, “Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, cannot disregard the person and the message of this man”

  3. The year 2017 will see the first centennial commemoration of the Reformation to take place during the ecumenical age. It will also mark fifty years of Lutheran–Roman Catholic dialogue. As part of the ecumenical movement, praying together, worshipping together, and serving their communities together have enriched Catholics and Lutherans /…/ Therefore, they long to commemorate 2017 together

  4. These changes demand a new approach. It is no longer adequate simply to repeat earlier accounts of the Reformation period, which presented Lutheran and Catholic perspectives separately and often in opposition to one another /…/

Now my question to you is: Are you, in fact, in complete submission to the authority of the hierarchy with regard to their authoritative declarations at and after Vatican II on how the Church proceeds on our relations with our sisters and brothers who are baptised into the one Body of Christ, but are non-Catholic? Or do you dissent from these? Because if you are in dissent, you are not a lay person I have any wish to have any contact with at all – rather your pastors, obviously, need to provide you with remedial catechesis

Finally as you are a lay person who clearly has never studied theology – or even bothered to learn the thought of the Church on these issues – you should be very cautious in calling a heretic not only a priest but a priest who holds a mandate from the hierarchy in this field…because you will face the judgment of Almighty God for that insolence, which will be far more exacting than ecclesial interdict or punishment

I trust these words are transparently comprehensible to you


Why should I say anything to you when you have, at hand, the authoritative document, published by the Holy See and with the text as promulgated. You may read it yourself.

If you refuse to do that, you can answer to God for that. It is your choice.


Thank you.

I have responded to this person.

I would simply give a warning that the attitude that you remark is one I have experience with in the 50 years of the dialogue in persons who are faithless to the living Magisterium that is the hierarchy, that is the College of Bishops.

Fortunately, that attitude was worse 50 years ago – by which I mean that the teachings and examples of a beatified Pope and a canonised Pope, as well as the changes in the hearts of people on the part of those actually open to the Holy Spirit, have greatly changed the landscape of Catholic thought and attitudes. Pope Saint John Paul II movingly acknowledged this in Ut Unum Sint.

We are therefore in a completely different place today than what Vatican II confronted, when the world’s bishops discerned that the ecumenical movement was a divine imperative and our previous positions and attitudes relative to non-Catholics were to be discarded. And by God’s grace, I was blessed to be a witness to that – and, as a priest, I gladly testify to it


Snippet from “Martin Luther Witness to Jesus Christ” (Link to full text)

He teaches us that unity in essentials allows for differences in customs, order and theology.

Just how much difference is deemed acceptable (for now)? Sure even within the Catholic Church, there are different customs. But theology-wise? Are they not important? If they are, how do we reach unity in those important aspects of the faith, and what are the largest hurdles of theological unity?


That decision rests with the Holy See.


I have been reading a little on the history this dialogue. There seems to be a lot of animosity toward the Church today, yet it might be of interest to know that current initiative started under Pope Paul VI, and has therefore been an active project of four popes. How can this not be a work of God?

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