CANADA – Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) continues its national dialogue with Roman Catholics in Canada, meeting most recently September 30 at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (St. Catharines, Ontario). During the meeting, participants continued their examination of From Conflict to Communion, a document jointly published by the Pontifical Council of Unity and the Lutheran World Federation.
“Our most recent discussion flowing out of the document concerned the heart of our theology: justification by grace through faith,” said Rev. Warren Hamp, Chairman of LCC’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations and a member of the Ontario dialogue group. “The discussion was honest and clear, and opened up understandings on both sides of the table while remaining faithful to our respective confessions. It was an intriguing conversation.”
Representing LCC in the national dialogue alongside Rev. Hamp are Rev. Nolan Astley (First Vice President of Lutheran Church–Canada), Rev. Dr. Thomas Winger (President, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary), and Rev. Dr. John Stephenson (Professor, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary). On the Catholic side are Bishop Gerard Bergie (Archdiocese of St. Catharines), Rev. Timothy Scott (General Councilor, The Basilian Fathers), Dr. Michael Attridge (Associate Professor, St. Michael’s College), and Dr. Jean-Pierre Fortin (Assistant Professor, L’Université de Sherbrooke).
Recently, LCC opened up another front in Catholic dialogue, this time in Edmonton. Archbishop Richard Smith of the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton expressed interest in starting a local dialogue group, composed of Edmonton-area clergy and theologians representing both churches. LCC President Robert Bugbee and synod’s Commission for Theology and Church Relations have provided consent to the opening of this regional dialogue.
An inaugural meeting was held at Newman Theological College on May 7, with Rev. Dr. Gerald Krispin (President and Vice-Chancellor, Concordia University College of Alberta) and Dr. Jason West (President and Academic Dean, Newman Theological College) serving as cochairs. In addition to Dr. Krispin, representing LCC were Rev. Dr. Adrian Leske (Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Concordia University College of Alberta), and Rev. Lorne Manweiler (Redeemer Lutheran Church, Edmonton). Rev. Michael Keith (St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Stony Plain, Alberta) has since been added as an additional representative of LCC.
In addition to Dr. West, the Catholics were represented by Rev. George Neumann, SAC (St. Boniface (German) Catholic Church, Edmonton), and Dr. Indre Cuplinskas (Assistant Professor of Church History, St. Joseph’s College), with Dr. Julien Hammond (Ecumenical Officer of the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton) serving as Secretary. Rev. Dr. David Norman, OFM (Professor of Systematic Theology, Newman Theological College), although also a member of the dialogue, was unable to attend that day).
While the Ontario dialogue is recognized by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and LCC as the national Lutheran-Catholic dialogue group in Canada, the Edmonton dialogue is instead understood to be a local/regional dialogue. Still, the work of the Edmonton group is expected to complement and contribute to the work of the Ontario group as well. The Edmonton group plans to meet again in October, and the national dialogue will meet again in February 2015.
The emergence of national and local dialogues between confessional Lutheran sand Roman Catholics in Canada mirrors similar meetings at the international level. In 2013, the International Lutheran Council and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity agreed to establish a three-year informal, international dialogue. The first round of this dialogue—an organizational meeting—took place June 10 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Oberursel, Germany.