Colloquium in Venice on Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue

2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The Ecumenical Institute in Strasbourg plays an important role in the preparation for this anniversary and thus in the coming year the Institute staff will participate in multiple colloquia and conferences on the topic. In recent years, too, the Institute has played a decisive role in leading ecumenical research work for the Lutheran World Federation, for example in the drafting of the text of “From Conflict to Communion” in cooperation with the Johann-Adam-Möhler-Institut in Germany, which itself worked as a representative of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU). The two Institutes also prepared the liturgy which will be celebrated by the Pope during a meeting of the LWF and the PCPCU on October 31 of this year in Lund, Sweden.

This grand opening of the Reformation year by the pope may cause some surprise. What exactly it will mean and what will come about as a result of it will only be seen in the course of time. This fact, however, prompts many questions and queries to be put to the staff of the Strasbourg Institute.

Italian Catholic theologians at the Istituto di Studi Ecumenici San Bernardo in Venice invited the Institute staff to join them for a discussion of just such questions. The Venice Institute, dedicated to question of ecumenism particularly as they apply to the situation in Italy, has partnered with the Strasbourg Institute for several years now for joint work. From April 14 to 18 the two research teams gathered to examine in depth the aforementioned statement “From Conflict to Communion.” Prof. Theodor Dieter discussed the history of the text and described its contents. Prof. André Birmelé dealt more with the overall context of the anniversary as it will be celebrated in an entirely new way, since the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999 forever altered the relationship between the Catholic and Lutheran churches. The Catholic contributions at the colloquium discussed the remaining open questions in the dialogue between the two churches. Their lectures expressed great hope and joy over what has already been achieved.