Indice > Dialoghi Interconfessionali > L-R-RC > The Theology of Mariage | CONT. > Intro
Covering Letter to the Authorities of the RCC, LWF and WARC;
Final Report;
"Reasons For A Dialogue On The World Level";
Participants In The Dialogue

  I. (CRISIS AND CHALLENGE) - selezionare
  IV. (MARRIAGE FOR LIFE) - selez.
  V. (PASTORAL CARE) - selez.

  (CONCLUSION) - selez.



    This report is the result of the dialogue conducted between the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, on one side, and the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, on the other side. After an appropriate period of reflection, the higher authorities of the three partners in the dialogue accepted the proposal contained in the letter accompanying the report, signed by the three copresidents of the commission (see below), and respectively arranged for the sending of the report to the Episcopal Conferences and to the Churches that are members of the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in order that it might be studied by them. For this same purpose of study it was agreed that the report could also be published.
    It is foreseen that comments received about the document will be studied jointly by a new commission named for the purpose and made up of representatives of the three partners in the dialogue.
A note on the status of the document: at this stage it is exclusively the responsibility of the commission that prepared it; it is not a document of the authorities under whose auspices the dialogue was conducted.

Covering Letter to the Authorities of the RCC, LWF and WARC

    In submitting the final report of the Study Commission appointed by the SPCU of the RCC, the LWF and the WARC to their respective authorities, the members of the Commission set on record their sense of thanksgiving to Almighty God that the results of their work have eventually found an expression of agreed theological conviction, although distinctive areas of disagreement continue to exist.
One quotation from the Section on Pastoral Care in the report illustrates the context and the spirit of the Commission's work: "The Commission has been heartened by the new insights which have come to it through its work together and which hold out to it the hope of even greater understanding of the nature of marriage under the Lordship of Christ. It is the hope of the Commission that through its work this gift of understanding may be reflected day by day in the Churches' pastoral care of the People of God."
    Recognizing that the matters treated under the original mandate and theological divergencies represented in our respective ecclesiastical positions are such as to demand much further examination, the Study Commission respectfully requests their authorities to give the present Report their most Careful attention.
    In the hope that this Report will be widely studied as a contribution to the wholeness of understanding which we seek in the ecumenical movement we would suggest the following points for consideration and action:

    1) That consideration be given to the publication of this Report, including a selez.ion of some of the major working papers presented during the sessions of the Study Commission.

    2) That, in the hope that the present Report will be submitted eventually to Episcopal Conferences and specific Churches for study, a brief study-guide be prepared by the three partners in the dialogue to accompany the document with a view to facilitating study and reaction and comment.

    3) That, in anticipation of an eventual reception of reactions from the constituencies of the partners in dialogue, we suggest that an evaluation of these reactions would most usefully be implemented by the three partners in dialogue together, which may well call for the appointment of a specific commission for that purpose at some future date.

We are,
(on behalf of the Commission)
Dietrich RÖSSLER
Jaqueline STUYT



Lutheran / Reformed / Roman Catholic Study Commission On "The Theology Of Marriage And The Problems Of Mixed Marriages"

Venice, Italy, 1976


    Dialogue in depth and at world level does not simply just "happen." There have to be reasons and a starting point mutually agreed. This report, which gathers up more than five years of intensive dialogue work, has its genesis documented in a consultation between representatives of the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, which took place in Rome, 15-17 December, 1970.
    In preparing such a dialogue, involving together Lutheran, Reformed and Roman Catholic participants, the 1970 Consultation stated the raison d'être of the dialogue and something of the goals envisaged:

"Reasons For A Dialogue On The World Level"

    1) Now as ever the division of the Churches is felt most painfully in interconfessional marriages. This problem is today affected and aggravated by a general crisis with regard to the understanding and the function of marriage.
The common endeavor of the Churches should therefore be directed in particular to the settling of these questions.

    2) Many local churches and regional Church authorities are collaborating with each other in the sphere of marriage and family. Since the publication of the Motu proprio Matrimonia mixta others have entered upon a new kind of conversation with one another and especially in the field of interconfessional marriages. On a regional level these attempts to get nearer to solving the problem of interconfessional marriages have generally proved promising.

    3) Nevertheless should efforts be exclusively confined to the regional level and the universal aspects of the problem be therefore lost to sight, it would be a narrowing of the issue. For this reason the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches advocated a world-wide conversation with the Roman Catholic Church and prepared it by two consultations in Cartigny (Switzerland), November 1969 and March 1970. The pertinent reasons for this world-wide dialogue on the theology of marriage and on the problem of interconfessional marriages are primarily as follows:

    a) Satisfactory agreements on a regional level are often made more difficult by factors dependent on local conditions-such as ecclesiastical minority situations, lack of ecumenical stimuli and of the opportunities of dialogue - ; they may be promoted by exchange and consultation on a world-wide level.

    b) The problem of interconfessional marriages is fundamentally and ultimately due to the differences in the theological understanding of marriage. These theological questions are equally valid throughout the world and have thus a universal character.

    c) The endeavor to reach a common understanding between the Roman Catholic Church and the Churches of the Reformation ought to make a helpful contribution to the overcoming of the world-wide crisis with regard to the understanding and the function of marriage."

    Among the many issues that would call for study the 1970 report outlined: Marriage is a reality to all humanity, the sacramental reality of marriage, the indissolubility of marriage, and ecclesiastical regulations.
A projected time-table was agreed, and after due consultation the three partners officially appointed the members of the joint study commission. Regrettably illness and death necessitated certain changes as noted below.



Roman Catholics

Rev. Franz BEFFART Roman Catholic Central Institute for Marriage and Family Questions Hohenzollernring 38-40
5 Cologne - 1, Germany

Mr. Michel DOUSSE
Family Department of the Laity Council
Piazza S. Calisto, 16
00153 Rome, Italy

Rev. Gustave MARTELET, SJ
Professor at the Theological Faculty of Fourvière
4, Montée de Fourvière
69 Lyons - 5, France

Mrs Jacqueline STUYT
Chairman of Commission on Ecumenism
World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations
Flat B - 4 Cleveland Square
London W. 2 - 6DH, Great Britain

Rev. Jérôme HAMER, OP (1971-1972)
General Secretary
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
Città del Vaticano

Msgr Jozef TOMKO
S. Congregation for the doctrine of the faith
Città del Vaticano

Rev. Olaf WAND, AA (1971)
Staff member of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
Città del Vaticano
Dr. Wolfdieter THEURER, CSSR (1972; deceased 1973)
Staff member of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
Città del Vaticano

Msgr Charles MOELLER
General Secretary
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
Città del Vaticano

Rev. Pierre-M. de CONTENSON, OP
(1973-1976; deceased 1976)
Staff member of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
Città del Vaticano



Mrs Sophia TUNG
Lutheran Church in Taiwan
86-1 Section 3
Hsin Shen South Road
Taipei, Taiwan - Rep. of China

Prof. Dr Dietrich RÖSSLER
Engelfriedshalde 39
74 Tübingen, Germany

Rev. Maurice SWEETING
Lutheran Church
29, rue des Glaces
25000 Valentigney, France

Rev. Dr Harding MEYER
Research Professor at the Institute for Ecumenical Research
8, rue Gustave Klotz 67000 Strasbourg, France



Rev. Prof. Rachel HENDERLITE
Austin Presbyterian Thelogical Seminary
100 East 27th Street
Austin, Texas 78705, USA

Rev. Prof. Daniel VIDAL
Treviso 1 bis 3
Madrid 3, Spain

Rev. Dr Rudolf Ehrlich (deceased 1974)
The Manse
28 Summerside Street
Edinburgh 6, Scotland

Prof. Frank NICHOL (1974)
Knox College
Dunedin, New Zealand

Prof. N. H. G. ROBINSON (1974-1976)
Professor of Divinity
University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Rev. Richmond SMITH
Theological Secretary, WARC
150, route de Ferney
CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland


    Throughout the sessions the chair rotated between Mrs Jacqueline Stuyt (Roman Catholic), Prof. Dietrich Rössler (Lutheran), Rev. Dr. Rudolf Ehrlich (Reformed) 1971-1974, Prof. Rachel Henderlite (Reformed) 1974-1976. Observers have attended most of the sessions: The Revd. Prebendary Henry COOPER (Anglican), London, the Rev. Dr Leslie CLEMENTS and the Rev. Rex DAVIES (both from the World Council of Churches), Geneva.
    In all the joint study commission has had five meetings: Strasbourg 1971, Madrid 1972, Basel 1973, Strasbourg 1974, Venice 1976. Depending on the nature of the subjects treated specialized resource persons were invited to individua) meetings:

I. 1971 - theme: "Marriage today from the sociological, psychological and religious points of view." Adviser, Mrs Micheline HERMANN-MERIC, psychologist (Roman Catholic), Paris.

II. 1972 - theme: "The sacramentality of marriage." Adviser, Prof. Dr Hermann RINGELING (Lutheran), Bern.

III. 1973 - theme: "The indissolubility of marriage." Adviser, Rev. Bernard de LANVERSIN (Roman Cątholic), Marseille.

IV. 1974-theme: "The indissolubility of marriage" - continued. Advisers, Prof. Cyrille VOGEL (Roman Catholic), Strasbourg, and Prof. Dr. D. Hans DOMBOIS (Lutheran), Heidelberg.

V. 1976 - "Review of the work of the commission and the final report."

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