(RNS) Lutherans warn Vatican against simpler conversions

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lutheran leaders have warned the Vatican that the creation of a structure to welcome conservative Lutherans into the Catholic Church would harm dialogue and damage ecumenical relations.

In 2009, Pope Benedict created a special church structure, called an ordinariate, to allow disgruntled Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while maintaining bits of their traditions and culture.

Ordinariates have been created in the U.S., England and Australia, attracting hundreds of conservative Anglicans who oppose female and gay bishops and who seek greater lines of authority.

In recent weeks, senior Vatican officials publicly suggested the creation of a similar structure for disaffected Lutherans; the idea was first floated last October by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican chief ecumenist.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesLutheranRoman Catholic

4 Comments
Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Brian of Maryland wrote:

As a Lutheran I’m disappointed the best the LWF could come up with was turf protection.

January 24, 9:57 pm | [comment link]
2. A Senior Priest wrote:

Yeah, they should force their disaffected to stay in a church that makes them miserable. That’s a real cool way of being kind and charitable. It’s just done wonders for TEC.

January 25, 12:17 am | [comment link]
3. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Brian of MD,

I’m always glad when you chime in here.  I wish more Lutherans did.  I hope the ACNA and the NALC continue to move in a converging direction, as we have so much in common.

I share your disappointment over the LFW’s kneejerk reaction, but I’m hardly surprised.  When we Anglicans look at the LWF, it’s hard to avoid the impression that it represents the sort of loose association of totally independent national churches that the Anglican Communion is steadily degenerating into.  The difference is that you Lutherans have never pretended to be more than a mere federation, whereas we Anglicans have at least aspired to something more, a true worldwide communion grounded in a commitment to “mutual responsibility,” i.e., at least seeking real interdependence at the international level rather than resting content with complete provincial independence.  Alas, the bitter divisions that have emerged among Anglicans worldwide over the last decade have shown that all our proud talk about being a world “communion” have been largely hollow and now fail to ring true.

But at least the conservative majority of Anglicans as represented by the Global South primates have stood firm for the authentic gospel and are fighting hard to contain the spread of the heretical form of theological relativism and moral antinomianism that now dominates the Global North branches of Lutheranism and Anglicanism alike.  We’ve seen very little evidence of any such pushback by Global South Lutherans within the LWF.

After all, the Scandanvian national churches caved to the permissive cultural Zeitgeist before the Canadian Anglican and American Episcopal churches did.  Where was the uproar, the outcry of strong protests, within the LWF after the Church of Sweden went over the waterfall and crashed on the rocks below?

Like many Anglicans, and especially many Anglo-Catholics, I used to think the Church of Sweden was the finest Lutheran body in the world, not least because it retained so many of the trappings of Catholic worship and spirituality, besides retaining the apostolic succession of bishops, of course.  But I must admit that when I look at the once-glorious CoS, what I see now makes me cringe and write “Ichabod” over it.  The Glory has departed.  But who knows?  Maybe, like the Ark of the Covenant, it will someday return.

In any case, this highly defensive reaction from the LFW illustrates a fundamental reality acknowledged widely these days, which is this.  The real divisions among Christians are no longer along denominational lines.  The bitter divisions WITHIN denoms now often exceed the old divisions BETWEEN them.  Certainly, as a priest and scholar within the ACNA, I feel FAR more kinship and unity with my fellow orthodox brothers and sisters within the NALC (or even those still stuck within the ELCA) than I do with my former friends and colleagues within TEC who are on the wrong side of the Culture War.

David Handy+

January 25, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
4. Teatime2 wrote:

How are they “forced” to stay in the Lutheran church? If they’re unhappy, there are a myriad of options for them. If they want to become RCs, then they can go through the conversion process. When I was an RC, it was called RCIA (The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). I don’t know if it still is. Many people availed themselves of it. I know it’s a longer process and doesn’t command headlines or much attention but it’s there and available, as always.

January 25, 3:35 pm | [comment link]
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