Chicagoland

Renewing promise of dialogue on Reformation anniversary

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
November 3, 2017

Renewing promise of dialogue on Reformation anniversary

Cardinal Cupich and Lutheran Bishop Wayne Miller led a service at Holy Name Cathedral commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation Oct. 31. During that service the two renewed a covenant between both churches – the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Metropolitan Chicago Synod. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A packed Holy Name Cathedral waits for a service to begin with Cardinal Cupich and Lutheran Bishop Wayne Miller commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation Oct. 31. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Lutheran BIshop Sherman G. Hicks and Sister Joan McGuire (O.P.S.T.D.) process in with the 1989 covenant signed by Hicks and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich and Lutheran Bishop Wayne Miller process in during a service at Holy Name Cathedral commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation Oct. 31. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Coralyn and Gary Hudik from Chicago sing during the service. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Ian Wright, Bridget Wright, Mathew Moser and Juan Pablo Castro sing during the service. They read the intercessions. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Miller delivers his remarks during the service. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich delivers the homily. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Juan Pablo Castro reads an intercession in Spanish. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Miller sign the renewed covenant. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich and Lutheran Bishop Wayne Miller both receive a congratulatory hug from Rev. Brian Wise, Ecumenical Officer of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod ELCA, following the service. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

While many in the Chicago area spent Oct. 31 trick or treating or handing out candy, Cardinal Cupich and Lutheran Bishop Wayne Miller led a service at Holy Name Cathedral commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

During that service the two renewed a covenant between both churches – the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Metropolitan Chicago Synod – “that calls for a posture of openness toward each other and a movement beyond what divides us to dialogue on what mutually concerns us.”

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Bishop Sherman G. Hicks signed the first covenant commitment in 1989. It was the first such covenant between a Catholic diocese and a Lutheran synod in the United States.

Oct. 31 was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany. Posting the theses, formally called the "Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," sparked the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic and Lutheran churches have long had dialogues that have helped to draw the two bodies closer together. On Oct. 31, 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church signed the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” a milestone in Catholic-Lutheran dialogue that expresses, in theological language, that Catholics and Lutherans agree that salvation is mediated by Christ, by faith, through God's grace, and that this necessarily leads to good works that further God's kingdom.

In 2015 they released "Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist.” Together, these documents offer renewed hope for continued progress, without the rancor that plagued relations between the two groups for hundreds of years

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation announced Oct. 31 that the next task of their formal dialogue commission would be "to discern in a prayerful manner our understanding on church, Eucharist and ministry, seeking a substantial consensus so as to overcome remaining differences between us."

The Eucharist is a big issue for Catholics and Lutherans married to one another, they said.

During his homily at the local service, Cardinal Cupich reflected on Pope Francis’ historic meeting in Lund, Sweden, on Oct. 31, 2016, where the pope and Bishop Mounib Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation, signed a joint statement in which Catholics and Lutherans pledged to pursue their dialogue in order to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder them from reaching full unity. They also stressed their commitment to common witness on behalf of the poor, the needy and the victims of injustice.

“Our common witness to the Gospel in reaching out to the poor has so much to offer us as we move forward even if differing on significant matters. Most assuredly this principle informed the early Catholic-ELCA dialogue of the late 1980s in Chicago … Tonight we affirm the Lund principle and pledge to act together in all the ways that we can given our unity in Christ in baptism,” said Cardinal Cupich.

“My simple suggestion this night is that we take up the reform of our churches together by reflecting on what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ, what it means to be authentic disciples and that we find unity in working together to put the Gospel into action.”

Martin Luther’s actions “led to a cascade of intended and unintended consequences that has had the effect of splintering the body of Christ into a fragmented array of groups that say different things about what they think,” Bishop Miller said during the service. This fragmentation is often approached with aggression or fear.

“But the God who is faithful to promises even when we are not, comes to us again here on this night with a new covenant; a promise produced by 50 years of honest, respectful conversation and relationship between Christians who think differently about some things,” Bishop Miller said. “It is a covenant grounded in our shared baptismal identity in the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and because of this, a covenant built upon the certainty that the one who binds us together will always be more powerful than that which pulls us apart.”

The covenant calls Catholics and Lutherans in the Chicago area to continue to dialogue with each other and stand together to work for peace and end to hate and bigotry, Bishop Miller said.

“But the power and promise of this night will only be realized when every single one of us allows Jesus to write these words on our hearts,” he said. “Because it is then that our lives as well as our words will become our witness.”

Topics:

  • reformation

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