PRESENTATION OF THE JOINT STATEMENT
PRESENTATION OF THE JOINT STATEMENT
Edward Cardinal Cassidy
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
1. In June of last year, both the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church officially responded to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification that had been prepared by the Joint Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission. Following two distinct processes of reception, both the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church were able to declare that a consensus had indeed been reached in the Joint Declaration "in basic truths of the doctrine of justification".
2. In making this statement, both the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation indicated some aspects of the doctrine of justification that required further study. The "Clarifications" of the Catholic Church, however, seemed in the view of the Lutheran partner to leave some doubt as to the nature and the extent of the approval of the Joint Declaration on the part of the Catholic partner. This resulted in a number of statements being made even in the press and a sense of disappointment by both partners.
3. The Secretary-General of the Lutheran World Federation and myself, in consultation with those responsible with us for pursuing this matter, set about finding a way in which to affirm the consensus reached and overcome the doubts that had arisen.
4. The document that we are making public today is the fruit of those discussions. It consists of two parts: an Official Common Statement by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church to be signed together with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and an Annex.
5. The Official Common Statement explains clearly and unequivocally just what the two partners understand by their act of signing the Joint Declaration. The two partners declare together: that a consensus has indeed been reached in basic truths of the doctrine of justification as set forth in the Joint Declaration and on the basis of this consensus they declare together "The teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this Declaration does not fall under the condemnations of the Council of Trent. The condemnations in the Lutheran Confessions do not apply to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church presented in this Declaration"; with reference to the questions raised by the responses to the Joint Declaration, the Statement explains that the attached Annex "further substantiates the consensus reached in the Joint Declaration and thus it becomes clear that the earlier mutual condemnations do not apply to the teaching of the dialogue partners as presented in the Joint Declaration"; In the third paragraph, the Statement sets out future work that the two partners intend to pursue: "continued and deepened study of the biblical foundations of the doctrine of justification", which did not seem to have been given sufficient attention in the Joint Declaration; "to seek further common understanding of the doctrine of justification, also beyond what is dealt with in the Joint Declaration and in the annexed substantiating statement". Some of these issues are mentioned in the Joint Declaration itself (JD 43) as requiring further clarification in order to reach full church communion. Finally, the two partners declare that they "will continue their efforts ecumenically in their common witness to interpret the message of justification in language relevant for human beings today, and with reference both to individual and social concerns of our times".
6. The Annex, as I have stated, "further substantiates the consensus reached in the Joint Declaration". In brief, it takes up those questions that were causing some uncertainty on the part of one or other of the two partners and without altering the Joint Declaration, removes that uncertainty. A study of the questions raised by the two dialogue partners in their respective responses, side by side with the Official Common Statement and its Annex will show how those questions have been dealt with to the satisfaction of both partners.
7. On the Catholic side, the Official Common Statement and the Annex have been approved by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. His Holiness Pope John Paul II has been informed accordingly and has given his blessing for the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, together with the Official Common Statement with its attached Annex on the date and in the place to be decided by the two partners.