Lutheran leader seeks Communion agreement with pope

December 17, 2010

ROME (RNS/ENInews) The president of the Lutheran World Federation is
calling on Lutherans and Catholics to issue a common statement on Holy
Communion to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in
2017.


"Our intention is to arrive at 2017 with a common Roman
Catholic-Lutheran declaration on Eucharistic hospitality," Bishop Munib
Younan told the Italian Protestant news agency NEV before meeting with
Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (Dec. 16).


"Eucharistic hospitality," means that Catholics would be able to
receive Communion at Lutheran worship services, and Lutherans would be
able to do the same at a Catholic Mass.


In a speech during his meeting with Younan, Benedict praised
progress in Catholic-Lutheran dialogue but did not make any reference to
the bishop's Eucharist proposal.


"It is my hope that these ecumenical activities will provide fresh
opportunities for Catholics and Lutherans to grow closer in their lives,
their witness to the gospel, and their efforts to bring the light of
Christ to all dimensions of society" the pope said.


Catholic doctrine forbids such bilateral Communion acceptance. The
Second Vatican Council, held from 1962 to 1965, said that Protestants
"did not keep the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic
mystery."


In 1517, Martin Luther published 95 theses critical of the Roman
Catholic Church, setting the Protestant Reformation in motion.


In 1999, the Catholic Church and the LWF signed a joint declaration
on the doctrine of justification (how a person is saved), one of the
main points of contention between Catholics and Lutherans in the 16th
century.


At the meeting with Younan, Benedict called the 1999 declaration "a
significant step along the difficult path towards re-establishing full
unity among Christians."


Younan is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and
the Holy Land, based in Jerusalem.