LWF Expresses Joy for Roman Catholics on Election of Pope Francis I

The Lutheran World Federation – A Communion of Churches

LWF Expresses Joy for Roman Catholics on Election of Pope Francis I
New Pontiff Encouraged to Continue Dialogue with Lutheran Communion

GENEVA, 14 March 2013 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has greeted the newly elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis I, on his first day in office, expressing the Lutheran Communion’s joy for Catholics and urging continued dialogue with Lutherans.

The Roman Catholic College of Cardinals elected Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the evening of 13 March at the Vatican. The 76-year-old pontiff becomes the first head of the Roman Catholic from the global South.

“You have been elected to serve the Church at a time when Lutherans and Catholics are growing in mutual understanding and joint witness not only at the local level but also at a global level,” said the LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge in a letter today addressed to the new pontiff.

Younan and Junge expressed their anticipation for the insights that the new pontiff brings into his new ministry from the rich pastoral and episcopal ministry in Argentina. “The challenging contexts of military dictatorship, economic collapse due to external debt, of social violence and ecological devastation have shaped your life and ministry as much as the joyful hope and deep faith of God’s people journeying and witnessing together to God’s love to humanity in the midst of these realities,” they wrote.

The LWF leaders noted that one of the most significant steps of the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue was the 1999 signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) between the Vatican and the LWF, which also included local celebrations across the globe. As then Cardinal of Buenos Aires, the newly elected pontiff actively participated in the joint JDDJ celebration organized in the Buenos Aires congregation of LWF member church, the United Evangelical Lutheran Church. “Our member churches remember with joy your active participation,” in this important event, Junge and Younan stressed.

The LWF leaders said Pope Francis takes on his ministry during a time of growth in mutual understanding between Lutherans and Catholics. The Lutheran-Catholic Joint Commission on Unity is approaching its 50th anniversary and is soon to publish From Conflict to Communion, which “constitutes a significant milestone” in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation to be marked in 2017, they noted.

“It is our prayer that this document will be meaningful to many in the world so strongly longing for peace, justice and reconciliation,” the Lutheran leaders said.

They reiterated the LWF’s appreciation for the Vatican’s commitment to ecumenical dialogue and offered their prayers that churches will continue to grow together through the witness of Christians around the world in their daily lives. “Those praying together and faithfully working together for the sake of the neighbor in contexts of injustice and violence have contributed to this growing understanding and joint witness,” they added.
“Working together in prayerful spirit is the basis of our quest for the visible unity of the church, which needs our efforts but which ultimately is given for us only through the grace of God,” the LWF leaders said.

Addressing the new pope, they concluded: “May your ministry be carried by the hope of those things that God has prepared for the world, and which inspire the witness of all Christian churches throughout the world.”

As the 266th pontiff, Pope Francis succeeds Benedict XVI, originally from Germany, who resigned at the end of February this year, after leading the Roman Catholic Church since 2005.

View the illustrated story; http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/index.php/joy-for-roman-catholics-on-el...
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(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF now has 143 member churches in 79 countries around the world, representing more than 70 million Christians. LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication and the various aspects of mission and development. Its secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.)
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The Lutheran World Federation