The Rev. Avery Dulles, S.J., Fordham’s renowned professor of Religion and Society, calls the historic Joint Declaration ending a 450-year old disagreement between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation a powerful symbolic event “that paves the way for consensus statements on other issues with other churches.” The Joint Declaration, which will be signed Sunday, bridges the gap between the churches by affirming a common belief in justification — how religious followers receive salvation in Christ.
The Rev. Dulles, who served as a member of the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, says the signing of the Joint Declaration states “clearly to the world that the two churches that split over the issue of justification nearly five centuries ago are still united on truths of the highest import. It gives us confidence that Lutheran and Catholic doctoral formulations, currently expressed in different idioms, can in the end be reconciled. This event also paves the way for consensus statements on other issues and with other churches.”
Differences in theological interpretation were at the heart of the Catholic-Lutheran rift during the Reformation and continued, until recently, to be a main point of disagreement between the two groups.