Lutheran Delegation Meets with Pope Francis

Pope Francis greeting the head of the American Lutheran Church Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. Source: Living Lutheran

As part of an ecumenical cooperation agreement, a delegation from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), an interdenominational partnership of global Lutheran denominational bodies, met with Pope Francis and other Vatican officials.

During the two-day visit to Rome, Archbishop Panti Filibus Musa, LWF president, and Pope Francis both expressed hope that upcoming 500th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, the primary confession of faith for Lutheran churches around the globe, in 2030 will become common ground to strengthen the relationships between Lutherans and Catholics as part of a commitment to reconciliation.

The meeting in Rome continues a process begun in the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmö in 2016, when Catholics and Lutherans gathered to commemorate the Reformation. During that meeting, the LWF and Caritas Internationalis (CI), the global confederation of Catholic humanitarian aid and development organizations, signed a declaration of intent to increase joint witness and service partnerships.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United States largest Lutheran body, remarked on the visit that “It was a remarkable experience to be in an audience with the pope on the anniversary of the Augsburg Confession. The hope of the reformers was that the Augsburg Confession could bring reconciliation. We are still seeking that today.”

During the papal audience, the LWF delegation presented Pope Francis with the gift of a chalice and paten, crafted specifically for the occasion by the brothers of the ecumenical Taizé Community in France. The glaze on the chalice and paten were made from sand taken from a refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan, where the LWF missionaries and staff work to support displaced Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the Syrian Civil War.

In his address to the delegation, Pope Francis thanked the Lutheran leaders for their gift, saying it “evoke[s] our sharing in the Lord’s passion. Let us continue, then, with passion on our journey from conflict to communion.”

The delegation’s visit concluded a reaffirmation of their 2016 statement. Committing to increase cooperation to better serve marginalization communities, the “Common Vision” statement, jointly presented by Maria Immonen, LWF World Service director, and Aloysius John, CI secretary general, affirmed both organizations’ commitment to the work of justice, peace and dignity for all people as a “catalyst that can shape our doctrinal dialogues.”

Source: Living Lutheran