by Mathew Block
VATICAN CITY – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) have announced they will begin holding informal international dialogues.
The announcement came at the end of November meetings in Rome between the ILC and the PCPCU. The ILC was represented by its Chairman (Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany), Vice-Chairman (President Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church–Canada), Executive Secretary (Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver), and Professor Werner Klän (Lutheran Theological Seminary in Oberursel, Germany). The Roman Catholic Church was represented by the PCPCU’s President (Cardinal Kurt Koch) and Monsignore Dr. Matthias Türk (PCPCU staff worker responsible for Lutheran-Catholic relations).
“It was a significant conversation we had at the Vatican with Cardinal Koch,” noted President Bugbee, writing on the way home from Europe. “It’s clear to me that the Pontifical Council is interested in getting to know better the conservative Lutheran churches represented by the ILC, and they also expressed the fact that both unity and truth are a priority for them.”
He continued: “I appreciate the opportunity for our Canadian church to have had a role in this meeting, and ask the Lord to bless both the Roman Catholics and us as we identify theologians to start the substantive talks. This process is one more indication that the ILC is strengthening its witness and function. Thanks be to God!”
Participants at the Rome meeting noted the positive discussions between ILC churches and Roman Catholics in a number of countries, including Germany, the United States, and Canada. Lutheran Church–Canada and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops officially opened talks at the beginning of February this year. Initial meetings had identified the subject of Christian marriage, including pastoral preparation and support for marriage, as a subject for discussion, but the group has since decided to examine a document on the Reformation recently released by the Lutheran World Federation and the PCPCU.
The new international informal dialogue between the ILC and the Roman Catholic Church will take place twice yearly over the next three years. The dialogue will be delegated to the ILC’s Executive Committee and to the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism. The results of these discussions will then be presented to the PCPCU.
Additional information on the recent discussion between the ILC and the PCPCU in Rome is available at the ILC’s website.
Mathew Block is editor of The Canadian Lutheran and Communications Manager for Lutheran Church–Canada. He also serves as editor for the International Lutheran Council.