Lutheran Welcomes Papal Comments on Justification

ROME, NOV. 20, 2008 ( Benedict XVI’s catechesis on justification at the general audience and his comments regarding Martin Luther were welcomed by a Lutheran leader in Rome.

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The dean of the Lutheran Church of Italy, Holger Milkau, said that «it’s always a pleasure to hear the Pope speak of Luther, above all if he considers arguments they share.»

The Holy Father said Wednesday that Luther’s expression «by faith alone» is true «if faith is not opposed to charity, to love. Faith is to look at Christ, to entrust oneself to Christ, to be united to Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence, to believe is to be conformed to Christ and to enter into his love.»

Lutherans and Catholics have officially professed a common faith on the doctrine of justification, signing a joint statement Oct. 31, 1999.

The statement states «that on the basis of their dialogue the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ. It does not cover all that either church teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.»

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