Bridget Mary's Response:
A sign of major progress! Roman Catholic Women Priests have broadened the issue of who can be ordained by leading the church forward to gender equality in inclusive communities now. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org
"As we approach the year of events leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on Oct. 31,
2017, a resurfacing question will be: Do we celebrate? Repent? Commemorate? Perhaps all three?
This is the first time the centenary observance of the Reformation will occur in an ecumenical era. Since the
Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999,
we've reached a new stage. We've made more progress in the last 50 years toward healing the wounds of our
divisions than we have in the last five centuries.
Top Lutheran theologians participated as observers at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The international
dialogue between the Vatican Secretariat for Ecumenism and the Lutheran World Federation started in 1967.
After five sessions, they came out with the Malta Report in 1972 in which it was clear they decided to take on in
the ensuing years a whole range of issues: Scripture and tradition; admission to the Eucharist; justification by
faith; church law; ordination.
At a weeklong conference on "Fifty Years of Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue" last July at the Lutheran Institute for
Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, Dominican Fr. Hervé Legrand, a participant in the dialogue, gave
an overview of the dialogue commission's work.
Discussion on Eucharist and ministry led to a new document in 1978 on "The Lord's Supper." Catholics and
Lutherans agreed: Celebration of the Eucharist doesn't "repeat" the sacrifice of the cross or add to its salvific
value. In the document, giving Communion under both kinds and preaching at every Mass was asked of
Catholics, while a weekly celebration was asked of Lutherans. There is extensive agreement on the real
presence under the signs of bread and wine.
As Lutherans only have two sacraments -- baptism and Eucharist -- they do not profess the sacramentality of
ordination. For them, it is more of a collegial reality, whereas for Catholics it has an indelible character, that is,
it marks one for life and cannot just be given up or repeated. There was a convergence of understanding on this,
but a lack of accord on who can be ordained..."