“A new phase of friendship and cooperation, said Pope Francis, on welcoming the adherence of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) to the ecumenical consensus on the Doctrine of Justification, on July 5, 2017 at Wittenberg in Germany, where Luther’s Reformation began in 1517.
Father Avelino Gonzalez-Ferrer, member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, commented on this event in the July 14 Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano. After the Lutherans and the Methodists, it is now the third Christian communion to adhere to the Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which was “the crucial point of disputes between Lutherans and Catholics in the 16th century,” he recalled. Anglicans should also adhere to it during the year.
Monsignor Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, represented the Catholic Church at the signing. He read a message of Pope Francis who welcomed it as “an eloquent sign of our commitment to continue together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, on the path from conflict to communion, from division to reconciliation.”
Underlining “the new challenges and responsibilities” inherent in this commitment, the Pope described the agreement as “a new phase of friendship and cooperation in the service of justice and peace in our human family. “
The adherence was marked by an ecumenical celebration in Saint Mary’s church at Wittenberg, where representatives of the Lutheran World Federation, of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, of the Methodist World Council and the World Communion of Reformed Churches signed a common statement.
We recall that Justification is regarded by Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, who concluded the agreement in 1999 for the Catholic Church, as “an essential topic of Theology.”