The Deacon's Bench

It could one day happen, if a German Lutheran bishop has anything to say about it.

Take a look:

A German Protestant bishop has urged Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches to draw up a joint declaration on their shared beliefs about the Eucharist, one of the issues that has divided them for hundreds of years since the Reformation.

“Our understandings of the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper are no longer that far apart,” said Lutheran Bishop Friedrich Weber, who deals with relations between the Catholic Church and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD), a grouping of eight German regional Protestant churches.

This follows a separate initiative of a group set up by Lutheran and Catholic churches in Sweden and Finland that has been discussing ways in which the two church traditions might advance the results of a 1999 joint Lutheran-Catholic declaration on the doctrine of justification.

A report released in March by the group had said there is now greater consensus on, “the foundations of spiritual life, faith and sacraments, especially baptism and Communion”. Differences nevertheless remain on the ministry of pastors and bishops.

“The goal has been that this now achieved common understanding could make the path towards shared Communion easier,” said Lutheran Bishop Eero Huovinen of Helsinki after the release of the report.

The report recommends that the Catholic Church consider broadening the “exceptional circumstances” in which Christians of other traditions might receive Communion, he stated. “Even though this is not easy, it would allow us to take steps toward a common Communion table in Sweden and Finland,” said Huovinen.

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