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October 27, 1999

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND
LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION SIGN
JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION


CARDINAL BEVILACQUA HAILS NEWS;
SAYS THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE

On October 31, 1999, the Holy See and the Lutheran World Federation will sign the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Augsburg, Germany. The Joint Declaration is the product of more than three decades of intense international dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. The Doctrine of Justification (how we are saved) was a central issue between Martin Luther and Catholic Church authorities in the 16th century.

"The consensus which has now been reached by Lutherans and Catholics about Justification is wonderful news for all Catholics, Lutherans and indeed all Christians responding to Jesus' prayer ‘May they all be one,'" said Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia. "In our joy, however, let us not believe that our work is done or that all issues dividing Lutherans and Roman Catholics have now been resolved. But the consensus represented by the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification fills al Christians with great hope and even greater resolve to heal the disunity among Christians, a disunity so sorely contrary to Jesus' will."

"The agreement that has been reached by theologians and leaders of our two Churches on the Doctrine of Justification by Faith is a great encouragement," said the Reverend Roy G. Almquist, Bishop, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "Although this is not the only issue of division between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, ‘justification' was very much at the heart of the 16th century schism. In a world that is hungry for signs of unity and hope, this action should encourage us all to examine the things that divide us and work for a greater expression of our oneness in Christ Jesus."

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