Finnish Lutheran Sounds a Catholic Note (Zenit)


#1

Bishop Says His Faithful Want to Be Part of “Catholic Church of Christ”

BARI, Italy, MAY 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Finnish Lutherans want to be part of the Catholic Church of Christ, Helsinki’s Lutheran Bishop Eero Huovinen told the Italian National Eucharistic Congress.

The representative of this reformed Christian confession delivered an address on Wednesday, the day the Eucharistic Congress dedicated to ecumenism. Benedict XVI is scheduled to appear next Sunday at the closing of the congress.

After explaining that Martin Luther did not want to found a new church but simply renew it, the bishop said, “We Finnish Lutherans wish to be part of the Catholic Church of Christ.”

He explained that in 2005, together with Catholics and other Christians, Lutherans celebrated 850 years of the Church in Finland. Lutherans represent 84% of the country’s population of 5.2 million.

“Together with Catholic sisters and brothers, we pray to be able to be one in Christ,” emphasized Bishop Huovinen.

Given that Sunday is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress, the Lutheran said that one cannot live “without the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, without Christ and without God.”

“Sunday is the day of Christ’s resurrection” and “the Eucharist is the sacrament of the real presence of Christ,” he said.

“Unity is not effected without truth” and the only way is “truth and charity,” he added. “From the bottom of my heart, I would like to anticipate the day in which Lutherans and Catholics, together, unite in a visible way.”


Article


#2

When I first read about this on Zenit, I found it very interesting.

Lutherans in Europe are a mixed bag, but different in their approach to Catholicism than American Lutherans. Perhaps because they live with evidence of their own Catholic past all around them.

The Swedish Lutheran church is very traditional in it’s liturgy and ecclesiastical structure. At one time (17th century? I’m not sure) there was a possibility of reunion between the Swedish church and the Roman church. Negotiations between the king and Rome got hung on issues like mandatory clerical celibacy and vernacular liturgy, but theologically they were not very far apart at the time.

The Baltic states of Finland and Estonia, as well as parts of Latvia were included in the Swedish empire in the past, and may reflect some of the Swedish style of Lutheranism.

I think that the signs are encouraging, although I wouldn’t look for any quick change in the religious landscape. I do believe that if a major reconciliation between the churches did happen it would be very newsworthy and could spark a renewed enthusiasm for Christianity in Europe (which right now seems rather lackluster), and possibly inspire a chain reaction of reconciliations.


#3

If anyone would be intimately familiar with Lutherans it would be Pope Benedict XVI, as he grew up in the birthplace of Lutheranism. We have both the traditional Anglicans and now the Finnish Lutherans interested in reconciliation. I wonder if we will see a domino effect from here? Does anyone know if the Vatican has publicly commented on the Finnish Lutherans’ statement? I’d be curious to see how the Pope will respond.


#4

I’m not trying to be skeptical but I’ve heard from an orthodox mystic that the unity of the churches will come about like the collapse of cummunism. It will come sudden like a domino effect.

We’ll, let’s just pray more.

Pio


#5

[quote=Eden]If anyone would be intimately familiar with Lutherans it would be Pope Benedict XVI, as he grew up in the birthplace of Lutheranism. We have both the traditional Anglicans and now the Finnish Lutherans interested in reconciliation. I wonder if we will see a domino effect from here? Does anyone know if the Vatican has publicly commented on the Finnish Lutherans’ statement? I’d be curious to see how the Pope will respond.
[/quote]

You can’t quite put them on the same level. The TAC is currently trying to convince Rome that the two Churches share the Catholic faith (ironically sort of like the Catholic Church is trying to do with respect to Eastern Orthodoxy). Finnish and Swedish Lutherans do not claim to share the same faith as Rome (though they tend to minimize and relativize the differences). They also have serious ecclesiological problems (I don’t know if you have been following the case of the Swedish pastor who is insisting on keeping his job even while renouncing belief in God). Finally the Sweedish and Finnish Lutheran Churches and are in full communion with other Lutheran bodies such as the German Lutheran Church which have lost apostolic succession (at least as Catholics understand it) and accept whole swaths of heretical Calvinist teaching as orthodox.

Irenicist


#6

I believe the Finnish Lutherans accepted the Joint Decree on the Doctrine of Justification. If these Lutherans now agree with the Catholic Church on how we are justified before God, it seems to me, that the biggest hurdle is over. Luther believed that his doctrine of justification was incompatible with the Catholic Church’s teaching, and his disagreement over the doctrine of justification is the major reason that Luther led his followers into schism with the Catholic Church.

If the reason for the schism is no longer a point of dispute, the schism should end.


#7

Positive news.


#8

[quote=Matt16_18]I believe the Finnish Lutherans accepted the Joint Decree on the Doctrine of Justification. If these Lutherans now agree with the Catholic Church on how we are justified before God, it seems to me, that the biggest hurdle is over. Luther believed that his doctrine of justification was incompatible with the Catholic Church’s teaching, and his disagreement over the doctrine of justification is the major reason that Luther led his followers into schism with the Catholic Church.

If the reason for the schism is no longer a point of dispute, the schism should end.
[/quote]

It isn’t the only reason, unfortunately – not that I want to minimize what progress has been achieved.

Irenicist


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