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The Margaret O'Gara Ecumenical Dialogue Collection
La collection de dialogues œcuméniques Margaret O'Gara
Online resource centre for Canadian bilateral ecumenical dialogues
Centre de ressources pour les dialogues œcuméniques bilatéraux canadiens
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Roman Catholic-Lutheran Church Canada

Beginnings

The Lutheran Church-Canada approached the CCCB indicating interest in establishing formal dialogue. Several initial meetings were held to get to explore this request and possible outcomes. The CCCB and the Lutheran Church-Canada embrace the ecumenical goal of Christian unity, which they agreed to pursue through dialogue, seeking to give together to the greatest degree possible common witness with regard to moral issues, and a fundamental witness to the Christian faith. This dialogue was formally established in June, 2013.

Purpose

To deepen understanding, to foster charity, and to develop common witness through exploration of doctrine and moral issues, and through celebration of appropriate forms of joint prayer.

Scope and Membership

The Lutheran Church Canada-Roman Catholic dialogue met for the first time in the fall of 2013, and subsequently aims to meet twice a year. In 2014, it was agreed that this dialogue committee would focus on four topics: Justification, the Eucharist, Ministry, as well as Scripture and Tradition. The group would then specialize in an area in need of further exploration. The dialogue also gave consideration of ways to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

An excerpt from Sr. Donna Geernaert’s Short History of Roman Catholic-Lutheran Relations in Canada:

Dialogue with the Lutheran Church-Canada

The Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) was formed in 1988 when the Canadian congregations of the St. Louis based Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod formed an autonomous church with three district offices (Edmonton, Regina, and Kitchener). In relation to the text of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the position of the LCC is similar to that of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod which issued its evaluation in 1999. In it, questions are raised about the possibility of claiming a genuine consensus if the language, elaborations and emphases differ. It does not serve the cause of dialogue, the report maintains, “to operate on the principle that two or more contradictory statements can all be true. Such thinking does not take the history of Lutheran/Roman Catholic differences seriously enough, nor does it sufficiently honour the integrity of each side. Did the two sides really intend the statements that they made in the 16th century and since then, to amount to ‘salutary warnings’ as the JD suggests?” (p. 7) The text goes on to assert that the JD does not settle unresolved issues on justification, grace, faith and original sin. Further detail is provided in evaluations by Concordia Theological Seminary of Fort Wayne, Indiana and Concordia Seminary of St. Louis, Missouri.

Initiated in the fall of 2013 with four participants on each side, the Lutheran Church-Canada/Roman Catholic Dialogue meets twice a year. In 2014, it was agreed that this dialogue committee would focus on four topics: Justification, the Eucharist, theology of Ministry, as well as Scripture and Tradition. The group would then specialize in an area in need of further exploration. This dialogue is considering hosting a collaborative symposium to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. At the international level, a parallel dialogue between the PCPCU and the International Lutheran Council (ILC) was initiated on Oct 7-8, 2015. Information is available on the website of the ILC.

Members of the dialogue commission have expressed the hope that they will be able to move beyond the stage of getting to know one another, to spell out and confront some differences openly and honestly, and that a deeper understanding of both traditions will lead to lasting friendships. The group questions at what point both churches will be informed of the dialogue and is wondering if it could benefit from some form of interaction with other dialogues sponsored by the CCCB.