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Cardinal Kurt Koch and Reverend Anne Burghardt pray during an ecumenical service at the Lutheran World Federation assembly in Krakow on Tuesday (CNS/Lutheran World Federation, Albin Hillert)

During an ecumenical prayer service, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist and the Lutheran World Federation’s general secretary formally called for a joint reflection on the Augsburg Confession, a fundamental statement of Lutheran faith. Source: NCR Online. 

“A common reflection could lead to another ‘milestone’ on the way from conflict to communion,” said Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Reverend Anne Burghardt, the federation’s general secretary, as they read a “Common Word” declaration to the Lutheran World Federation assembly on Tuesday, 

The assembly, held on September 13-19 in Krakow, Poland, is the main governing body of the Lutheran World Federation, which represents 150 Lutheran churches in 99 countries.

The Augsburg Confession was drafted in 1530 in an attempt “to bear witness to the faith of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church,” the declaration said. “At the time of its writing, ecclesial unity was probably endangered, but ecclesial separation was not yet finally accomplished.”

Because the statement of faith was meant to witness to the unity of the Church before the final ruptures of the Protestant Reformation, the declaration said, it is “not only of historical interest; rather, it holds an ecumenical potential of lasting relevance”.

The declaration acknowledged both theological and practical obstacles on the path to full unity.

The Catholic Church’s “excommunication of Martin Luther is still a stumbling block for some today,” it said. 

In a similar way, it said, “the fact that Martin Luther and the Lutheran confessional writings refer to the papacy as ‘anti-Christ’ is a stumbling block even though today the Lutheran World Federation does not support that view”.


Vatican, Lutheran officials call for joint study of Augsburg Confession (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via NCR Online)