11 January 2016 - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) have invited Lutheran churches and Catholic bishops’ conferences across the world to make use of a jointly-developed Common Prayer to prepare commemorations for the 500 years of the Reformation in 2017.
In a joint letter today to the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences and to LWF member church bishops, presidents and other leaders, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge and PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch introduce the Common Prayer for Lutheran-Catholic common commemoration of the Reformation in 2017. The document is the first jointly developed liturgical order prepared by a liturgical task force of the Lutheran Catholic Commission on Unity of the LWF and PCPCU. It is based on the recent study report From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017, and is calling the Catholic and Lutheran communities for joint prayer in this commemoration.
The Common Prayer includes materials that can be adapted to local liturgical and musical traditions of churches in the two Christian traditions.
”This common prayer marks a very special moment in our common journey from conflict to communion. We are grateful for being able to invite you to participate in this journey in witnessing to the grace of God in the world,” Junge and Koch write to the Lutheran and Catholic Church leaders.
The two leaders express gratitude for the many joint initiatives and commitment by Catholics and Lutherans in studying together the document From Conflict to Communion, in which the two church bodies describe together for the first time the history of the 16th century Reformation and its intentions. The report developed by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity in 2013 has been widely distributed to Catholic and Lutheran communities. It is available in the four LWF’s official languages – English, French, German and Spanish – and has been translated into several other national and regional languages.
The Common Prayer is a practical guide to a process of worship for a joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of 500 years of the Reformation. It is structured around the themes of thanksgiving, repentance and commitment to common witness. The aim is to express the gifts of the Reformation and ask forgiveness for the division perpetuated by Christians from the two traditions.
”It offers an opportunity to look back in thanksgiving and confession and look ahead, committing ourselves to common witness and continuing journey,” states the preface of the Common Prayer.
It offers suggestions of how Catholic and Lutherans should preside and read together at a common prayer service. Examples are provided of hymns and songs from a variety of multicultural contexts, as well as biblical and confessional readings that reflect mutual joy and repentance, and the desire to serve and witness to the world together.
In their joint letter, Junge and Koch remind the church leaders that the year 2017 also marks the 50 years of global ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, which includes other major study processes and documents. For the LWF, the year coincides with its Twelfth Assembly, to be held in Windhoek, Namibia, under the theme ”Liberated by God’s Grace.”
In October this year, the LWF and PCPCU will host a joint Ecumenical Commemoration event in Lund, Sweden, where the LWF was founded in 1947.