The joint declaration on justification with lutherans

does anyonw know anything about this? Did it really teach that the condemnations of Trent on thoes who believe in justification by faith alone no longer applies?

“5. The present Joint Declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ. It does not cover all that either church teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.” “13. In light of this consensus, the corresponding doctrinal condemnations of the 16th century do not apply to today’s partner” (JD # 13).

:slight_smile: Yo, 6glargento!

I remember kicking this Joint Declaration around with a couple of knowledgeable SSPX priests over Sunday supper one day 'way down in Mexico some months after it happened.

Our then American Archbishop had had a front page colored photograph of himself in a major regional daily, wearing all his archbishop’s splendor while embracing his Lutheran counterpart likewise in his episcopal splendor.

As I recall, the reaction of the two SSPX priests, one French and one from Mexico City equalled mine: :eek: “Now, what?”

Maybe the “spirit” behind this Joint Declaration was nothing more than the latest manifestation of that vague impulse that drove the Vatican to the offering of prayers at Tokyo’s Shinto Shrines in 1937 by a high-level delegation, nearly 50 years before Assisi.:wink:

Who knows?


Who knows if the declaration will actually bring any Lutherans closer to Holy Mother Church, but as far as I saw it affirmed that there are some elements of a doctrine of justification that can be affirmed in common by Catholics and Lutherans while leaving the actually important elements untouched. Without looking back at the document, I think it would something along the lines of “See, we agree that no one can be saved without prevenient grace,” leaving untouched, of course, the fact that the true teaching still requires a free act of cooperation with grace. So on the whole I didn’t think it was at all worth the hullabaloo made over it.

I think that this link will provide a lot of information on the meaning of the joint declaration, albeit from the Missouri Synod Lutheran perspective.

This is the Catholic Church’s official response to the joint declaration.



The Catholic Church is, however, of the opinion that we cannot yet speak of a consensus such as would eliminate every difference between Catholics and Lutherans in the understanding of justification. The Joint Declaration itself refers to certain of these differences. On some points the positions are, in fact, still divergent…


  1. The major difficulties preventing an affirmation of total consensus between the parties on the theme of Justification arise in paragraph 4.4 The Justified as Sinner (nn. 28-1,0 ). Even taking into account the differences, legitimate in themselves, that come from different theological approaches to the content of faith, from a Catholic point of view the title is already a cause of perplexity. According, indeed, to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in baptism everything that is really sin is taken away, and so, in those who are born anew there is nothing that is hateful to God (3). It follows that the concupiscence that remains in the baptised is not, properly speaking, sin. For Catholics, therefore, the formula “at the same time righteous and sinner”, as it is explained at the beginning of n. 29 (“Believers are totally righteous, in that God forgives their sins through Word and Sacrament …Looking at themselves … however, they recognize that they remain also totally sinners. Sin still lives in them…”), is not acceptable.

This statement does not, in fact, seem compatible with the renewal and sanctification of the interior man of which the Council of Trent speaks (4). The expression “Opposition to God” (Gottwidrigkeit) that is used in nn. 28-30 is understood differently by Lutherans and by Catholics, and so becomes, in fact, equivocal. In this same sense, there can be ambiguity for a Catholic in the sentence of n. 22, “… God no longer imputes to them their sin and through the Holy Spirit effects in them an active love”, because man’s interior transformation is not clearly seen. So, for all these reasons, it remains difficult to see how, in the current state of the presentation, given in the Joint Declaration, we can say that this doctrine on “simul iustus et peccator” is not touched by the anathemas of the Tridentine decree on original sin and justification.

  1. Another difficulty arises in n.18 of the Joint Declaration, where a clear difference appears in the importance, for Catholics and for Lutherans, of the doctrine of justification as criterion for the life and practice of the Church.


If I’m reading the Joint Declaration correctly, the positions on justification that are articulated in this document do not fall under the condemnations of Trent.

The Tridentine condemnations will always be applicable; they can’t be revoked. Indeed, the first paragraph of the JD itself states that “These condemnations are still valid today and thus have a church-dividing effect.” However, the declarations in this document do not run afoul of those condemnations.

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