Church as Koinonia of Salvation Is Theme of Roman Catholic-evangelical Lutheran Church in America Dialogue

December 8, 2000 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON (December 8, 2000) -- "The Church as Koinonia of Salvation: Its Structures and Ministries" was the theme of the tenth round of the Roman Catholic-Evangelical Lutheran Church in America dialogue.

During the meeting, theological work continued in exploring the two traditions and resources in history, scripture and theology for resolving continuing issues that stand in the way of full communion.

The dialogue was held in Las Vegas, New Mexico, Nov. 30-Dec. 3.

Papers were presented to clarify some of the themes: Margaret O'Gara, Toward a Roman Catholic Evaluation of the "Niagara Report," the "Porvoo Common Statement," and "Called to Common Mission," discussed several of the Anglican (Episcopal) and Lutheran theological agreements that have made full communion possible between them. Lutheran churches have not all had bishops claiming apostolic succession in episcopal ministry. By these agreements, Lutheran churches will come into the historic episcopate as understood by Anglicans. From a Catholic and Orthodox point of view, this is an important stage in the development of ministry among the churches.

Scott Ickert reviewed previous dialogues on papacy and infallibility and current Lutheran scholars' positions on the subject in a paper entitled Recent Lutheran Reflections on Universal Ministry. Lowell Almen, General Secretary of the ECLA, developed the Lutheran understanding of bishops from the constitutional and confessional documents of the ELCA. A paper by Michael Root, The Local Church, the Bishop and the Presbyter: An Argument explored complimentary differences in Catholic and Lutheran understandings of local (parish/congregational) and regional (diocesan/synodical) church and their implications for a theology of the ordained ministers in those churches.

In addition to the papers, there was a discussion of the Lutheran study of ordained ministry , the process by which the decision was made for women to be ordained in the predecessor bodies of the ELCA, and some developments on communion ecclesiology in German Catholic scholarship.

The co-chairs of the meeting, Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Bishop Charles Maahs, Evangelical Lutheran Bishop of the Central States Synod, appointed drafters for the text that will form the report of this round of the dialogue. It is hoped that within the next few years a statement on the Church will be developed that will contribute to the goal of full, visible unity between Lutheran and Catholic churches.

Dialogue members attended Christ the King Catholic Church where Bishop Sklba celebrated Mass and they assisted at the Eucharist in Christ Lutheran Church.