Statement by Dr Ishmael Noko on the Vatican document “Dominus Iesus”

 — Sept. 8, 20008 sept. 2000

Statement by Dr Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, on the Vatican document “Dominus Iesus”

The Lutheran World Federation has received news of the document, “Dominus Iesus” – On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church, published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church on September 5, 2000.

This document pertains primarily to the inter-faith relations of the Roman Catholic Church in the wide framework of the world’s religions. The Lutheran World Federation has seen this document and will want to carefully study and fully discuss it with our Roman Catholic partners.

The Lutheran World Federation has also seen a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent on June 30, 2000 to the presidents of the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conferences around the world. This letter and its accompanying document, “Note” on the Expression “Sister Churches” says, in effect, that the word “church” should not be used by the Roman Catholic Church when addressing Protestants.

The fact that the Roman Catholic Church is only ready to speak of Orthodox churches as “sister churches” is not new to us. According to this understanding of the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran churches and other churches of the Reformation are not referred to as churches, but – in line with the principles now restated – as “ecclesial communities.”

The document, “Dominus Iesus,” contains the observation that “ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense.”

Lutheran churches, together with other churches of the Reformation, are not ready to accept the categories now emphasized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith nor the definitions and criteria underlying them. We are disappointed that thirty-five years of ecumenical dialogue between Roman Catholics and Lutherans seem not to have been considered in the formulation of the letter and documents issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The impact of these statements is more painful because they reflect a different spirit than that which we encounter in many other Lutheran-Roman Catholic relationships.

On October 31, 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church took a significant ecumenical step by signing a Joint Declaration that nullified centuries of conflict between our churches regarding the Doctrine of Justification. This was an important milestone in the history of Christian unity. In the Joint Declaration, a clarifying note states that the word “church” is used in the Declaration “to reflect the self-understanding of the particular churches, without intending to resolve all the ecclesiological issues related to them.” This approach is also helpful in the wider ecumenical relationship between churches. Without it, problems arise, not only on the world level of churches and communions but also on the local level where pastors and believers are developing relationships as genuine ecumenical partners as they seek to faithfully serve God in their communities.

The Lutheran World Federation remains committed to ecumenical dialogue. We believe that ecumenism is not optional but essential to the Church. Temporary setbacks should neither be allowed to cloud or darken our vision for Christian unity as willed and prayed for by Christ himself.

Geneva, September 8, 2000

The LWF is a global communion of 131member churches in 72 countries representing over 59 million of the world’s 63 million Lutherans. Its highest decision making body is the Assembly, held every six or seven years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by a 49-member Council which meets annually, and its Executive Committee. The LWF secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

Posted: Sept. 8, 2000 • Permanent link:
Categories: Documents, ELCA NewsIn this article: Dominus Iesus, ecumenism, interfaith, salvation
Transmis : 8 sept. 2000 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : Documents, ELCA NewsDans cet article : Dominus Iesus, ecumenism, interfaith, salvation

  Previous post: Ancien article : Seeds for a ‘100-Year’ Peace Process
  Newer post: Article récent : Lutherans Respond to Vatican Document and Letter