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"Ordained ministry; episcopate; models of the Church; ways to communion" - "The Lord's Supper"

Ways to Community

Lutheran/Roman Catholic Joint Commission


    Appointed by the Executive Committee of the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, the Roman Catholic/Lutheran joint Commission was asked to examine questions which it had been impossible to deal with in detail in the 1972 Malta report on "The Gospel and the Church".

    The first fruits of the Commission's work on this mandate was a document on the Lord's Supper or Eucharist, published in 1980. A study on the ministry in the church with special reference to episcopacy was announced at the same time and is now being prepared for publication. But the Commission wishes first to present the following document on "Ways to Community". This seeks to bring out the significance of the statement found in the Malta report: "A process of gradual rapprochement is necessary in which various stages are possible" (No. 73).

    In the course of its work the joint Commission came to the conclusion that, if there were to be any further progress in interchurch relationships, clarity was needed and a certain measure of agreement, both about the goal (Part 1) and about concrete steps towards unity (Part II). A bird's eye view is necessary if we are to see how the various themes discussed in the dialogue and the tasks set us for cooperation fit into the total picture, lest we find ourselves speaking and acting at cross purposes and misunderstanding one another.

    "Ways to Community" is a summary of points of agreement rather than a study of previously undiscussed or unresolved problems. The comments to be found in it are based on statements from the Roman Catholic side and the Lutheran side, as well as on certain declarations by the World Council of Churches, reflecting a general ecumenical consensus. In Part II, with its more practical and pastoral focus, we offer recommendations and suggestions. It may come as a surprise to readers, as it did to the members of the Commission itself, to find that we already have a remarkably similar vision of the goal of the ecumenical movement, and that there is an astonishing number of important practical steps which we can take together to achieve this goal.

    In the present situation, on the other hand, it seems to us quite essential to clarify in much closer detail the form of church unity we are seeking as Christians. Exhaustive and sometimes heated discussions have taken place on this theme in recent years. The joint Commission plans, therefore, to produce a document on "Models of Unity" in which it will attempt to present both the different concepts of unity and the various stages of convergence in a way which brings out their nuances more clearly than has so far been achieved.

    Some basic elements for this work are already to be found in the present document. We hope it will be of help in the approach to the unresolved problems. Above all, we hope it will encourage Christians to move towards a more intimate fellowship in faith, prayer and life than has been the case until now. We commend it for careful attention in the hope and with the prayer that God may use it to further the unity which is his will for his people and for his world.

Augsburg, 23 February 1980
Hans L. Martensen
Bishop of Copenhagen
George A. Lindbeck
Professor, Yale University
New Haven, USA


  1. The disunity of Christians causes offence and distress to both church and world. It quite "openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature"1. Moreover, it impairs the ever-urgent call for Christian service to the world (cf. Is 61:1f. and Lk 4:18f.).

  2. We are therefore obligated to do all we can to help overcome the division. We must strive, among other things, for a maximum "common vision of the unity of the Church at every level in obedience to the faith"2. We need a "common vision" because we shall grow further apart if we do not aim towards a common goal. If we have conflicting views of this goal, we shall, if we are consistent, move in opposite directions. We need unity "at every level" because it affects all areas of our life. Whatever the circumstances in which Christians find themselves, they must be concerned about their unity in Christ and each is called upon to make a contribution.
    This demands "obedience to the faith". Only what the Lord wills, what he gives and commissions is decisive. He discloses what this is only to believers, and calls them in turn to witness in word and deed, personally and communally to what they have received in faith.

  3. This is the spirit in which we want to say together in "obedience to the faith" how we as Roman Catholic and Lutheran Christians see (1) the goal of unity and (II) the steps towards unity which seem necessary to us.

    Part I


  4. The goal of unity is given to us beforehand. It is not constructed or manipulated, but is received. It is not a totally new reality reserved for a distant future, but is in its fundamental elements already present and active among us.

  5. The goal of unity is discernible in the word and work of the Lord, in the testimony of Holy Scripture, and in the teaching and life of the church.

  6. The unity we seek has already begun to be realized. Despite our sins, the Lord has not ceased his unifying activity. Just as he went to his death "to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (Jn 11:52), so he continues to live and work "that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21). Against all powers threatening Christian unity from within and without, he is bringing his work to its goal through the might of his resurrection and ascension in the Holy Spirit. He is completing what he has begun.

  7. By the gifts he has entrusted to his church, he leads the scattered flock towards full unity. Without active loyalty to these gifts, the goal of unity remains unrecognized and unattained.

  8. Regarding the concretization of the unity already given and yet also awaited and worked for in the future, it must be said:

    Christian unity is (a) a blessing of the Triune God, a work which he accomplishes, (b) by means he chooses, (c) in ways he determines, (d) shaped by basic structures he has established, and (e) directed towards a unique, truly all-encompassing community.

    a. Community Through Grace
  9. Like every good gift, unity also comes from the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.
    The will and work of the Father is "in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him" (Eph 1: 10). In the Father is the origin of all the Son does for unity. "And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Eph 1: 22-23).

  10. The basic work of unification occurs in the incarnation of the Son of God, in whom divinity and humanity are inseparably united in one person. Everything Jesus Christ says, does and suffers lives from this unity and has its aim "that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21). He suffered death on the cross for the sake of unity. Unity is integral to his gift of redemption and reconciliation, and to participation in his glory: "The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one" (Jn 17:22).

  11. Through his blood the wall of partition is torn down which separates human beings from each other and from God (Eph 2:11-22). His crucifixion is judgment on all sins, including sins against unity, and yet is the acquittal of all sinners. The peace which unifies is established "by the blood of his cross" (Col 1: 20). Thus unity always stands under the sign of the cross. in the midst of contradiction and opposition, misunderstanding and abuse, it lives from Jesus Christ's Lord. "It is by entering into His passion for the redemption of a sinful and divided world that the Church finds its unity in its crucified and risen Lord."3.

  12. Jesus Christ accomplishes his work on the cross and all other works of unification in the Holy Spirit. Since he wants his own to be one as the Father and he himself are one, he promises them that same Spirit which is the bond of unity between Father and Son. Pentecost is the great sign to the church that the Lord fulfils this promise.

  13. Incorporation into living unity takes place only through the Holy Spirit. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13; cf. 1 Cor 12:1-11). "For any achievement of a fuller unity than that now manifest, we are wholly dependent upon the Spirit's presence and governance"4. The Spirit revives what is dead and unites what is separated into an all-encompassing community. Christian unity exists in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the community of the Holy Spirit.

    b. Mediation of Community
  14. Since we cannot find, much less construct, life and unity in Christ on our own, we must rely on their mediation through the Holy Spirit. As the Bible testifies, this occurs through (1) the Lord's word and (2) his sacraments, (3) with the help of the diversified ministries of the whole people of God. "The Church as the body of Christ lives by its Lord's gifts in Word and Sacrament; it knows it is called, gathered and sanctified to faith by the Holy Spirit and it exists as God's people in the world as a human fellowship"5.

          1. Word
  15. In his high-priestly prayer for unity, Jesus says, "I have given them thy word ... Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth" (Jn 17:14, 17). "He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out" (Jn 10: 3), "so there shall be one flock, one shepherd" (Jn 10: 16). Whenever and wherever we hear and trust his voice, and allow ourselves to be called again and again to the shepherd and to the flock despite disintegrating forces, there unity becomes reality. Thus we must listen together to the word of God and faithfully cling to the one gospel (cf. Gal 1:6-10) as indispensable steps along the road to full unity.
    "Christ Himself builds the Church and in doing so creates its unity"6 in his word. This bound up with his sacramental action.

          2. Sacrament
  16. The same letter to the Galatians which emphasizes that from one gospel comes one faith also stresses one baptism as source of unity. It is written, "for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:26-28). Christ forms his church "by the washing of water with the word" (Eph 5:26).

  17. Furthermore, he nourishes it with his flesh and blood. Not only is the individual recipient thereby benefitted, but the whole church is built up. The believers become one body by receiving the one body of the Lord. "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10: 17)7. Where "baptism and the Lord's Supper are dispensed in accordance to the New Testament charge, there Christ is truly present, grants reconciliation and gathers his community"8.

  18. According to Catholic conviction, there are, together with the chief basic sacraments of baptism and eucharist9, five further sacraments: confirmation, penance, extreme unction, ordination and marriage. In each of these, Catholic faith sees the Lord at work bestowing grace and creating unity. In each, not only the individual recipient, but the whole church is involved10 which sees itself as "sacrament of unity"11, as sign and instrument "of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind"12.

  19. The Lutheran conviction also is that the Lord does not bestow his grace exclusively through the preached word and the administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Confession and pastoral care, as well as ordination, confirmation and marriage between believers are understood as actions in which human beings are promised and granted grace, even though it is generally held that these acts should not be seen as sacraments in the full sense13.

          3. Ministry
  20. The church, which lives by word and sacrament, is at the same time called to their service. The Lord entrusts each member with specific gifts and tasks. "From whom [Christ] the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and unbuilds itself in love" (Eph 4:16; cf. Col 2:19).

  21. Within this context, the service of the special ministry is indispensable. "With the Word to be proclaimed and the sacraments to be administered, the church's ministry is also divinely instituted and it is conferred through ordination. It is Christ himself who acts through this office and its functions"14. "The Essential and specific function of the special ministry is: to assemble and build up the Christian community, by proclaiming and teaching the Word of God, and presiding over the liturgical and sacramental life of the eucharistic community"15.

  22. Yet though Lutherans and Catholics both affirm the special ministry, they differ in their views of its concrete shape(s). According to Catholic conviction, Jesus Christ established the church "by sending forth the apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father (cf. Jn 20:21). He willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world. In order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and fellowship"16.

  23. Also according to Lutheran understanding, the individual congregation is essentially related to the church as a whole. There is a need beyond the local congregation for leadership services (episcope) with pastoral responsibility for proclamation, sacraments and church unity. Thus in addition to the office of parish pastor, there is a place for supracongregational ministries in the church. Although Lutherans do not regard the historic episcopacy as based on an explicit irrevocable command from the Lord valid for all times and situations, yet this polity arose through the work of the Holy Spirit, and there are historical and ecumenical reasons for seriously considering its restoration in Lutheran churches. Further, a ministry serving the unity of the church as a whole is, for Lutherans, in accord with the will of the Lord, but without its concrete form having been fixed once for all.

    c. Realization of Community
  24. If community in Christ is to be realized, we must accept the unifying gifts of the Lord despite all temptations to do otherwise. Only where there is (1) common faith, (2) hope and (3) love does unity live, grow and bear fruit.

          1. Unity of Faith
  25. Only in faith is a human being able to recognize the gift of God and who it is who speaks to him (cf. Jn 4:10). When Christians believe, the promise is fulfilled: "They will heed my voice" and "there shall be one flock, one shepherd" (Jn 10:16). On the one hand, individuals are "added" (Acts 2:41) to the one church, and, on the other hand, unity itself is thus constantly realized anew and grows to its fullness until we all come "to the unity of the faith" (Eph 4:13)17.

  26. The yes of faith must affect all areas of life. This is why witnessing, confessing and teaching are an essential part of it18. Everything which fosters common witness, common confession and common teaching not only leads towards unity, but is already lived unity - unity in faith, unity in truth. There are, it should be remembered, different ways of expressing or articulating the community given or achieved in witness, confession and teaching. "A fundamental unity in faith exists wherever church and church communities confess Jesus Christ as true God and true man and as only mediator of salvation according to the scriptures to the glory of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"19.

          2. Unity of Hope
  27. "Unity requires companionship in struggle and hope"20. The call "to the one hope" belongs to "one body and one Spirit" (Eph 4:4). "The unity of the Church will be achieved as Christians are united in the anticipation and expectation of God's future"21.

  28. Whoever thinks that the present state of ecumenical relations is either so bad that no decisive improvement is possible, or so good that no decisive improvement is necessary, is acting in opposition to hope. In both cases, unity is impaired along with hope.

  29. The service to unity demanded of all Christians must be the expression of an unswerving, unwearied' and unabridged Christian hope. "Ecumenical endeavors therefore have their deepest basis in the knowledge of the kingdom of God or the new world, which has already come in Jesus Christ but whose fulfilment remains an object of Christian hope"22.

          3. Unity of Love
  30. The community grows in Christ to the degree in which faith and hope become effective in love. In love, the human being becomes fully receptive to the gifts of the giving Lord; in love, the person learns to follow and "gather" with God (cf. Mt 12:30; Lk 11:23). "Love ... binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3:14). It unites the individual members "into one fully committed fellowship"23, and simultaneously leads to communion with the Triune God. Thus the high priestly prayer (Jn 17:26) concludes with the petition "that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them". Through love, we can "grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, ... makes bodily growth and unbuilds itself in love" (Eph 4:15 f.).

  31. The eucharist is an essential part of the acceptance of God's unifying gifts. in its communal celebration, we confess our common faith, witness to our common hope, give a sign of our common love in terms of "one fully committed fellowship".

    d. The Form of Community
  32. There is a basic pattern of unity through which all its aspects are interrelated. Unity in Christ is unity in (1) visibility, (2) diversity, and (3) dynamism.

          1. Visibility
  33. Both "one body and one Spirit" (Eph 4:4) belong to the common life in Christ. "We want to stress the fact that the unity we seek should be an outward, visible unity which is becoming historically manifest in the life of the churches"24 We believe "that we live under the obligation to make this unity historically manifest, visible and recognizable to the world, that it may believe"25.
    This by no means, however, signifies a rigid uniformity: living unity in Christ is essentially manifold and dynamic.

          2. Diversity
  34. Unity in Christ does not exist despite and in opposition to diversity, but is given with and in diversity. The work of the one unifying Spirit of God does not begin with the uniting of the already separated, but rather creates and maintains diverse realities precisely in order to lead them into the unity of love.

  35. The one body is composed of many members (1 Cor 12:4-30; Rom 12:4-8; Eph 4:7-16). "A lively variety marks corporate life in the one Body of one Spirit"26.

  36. The different members have become part of a larger whole in a reconciled diversity in which differences have not been dimmed, but highlighted and thus made beneficial. "Thus in their diversity all bear witness to the admirable unity of the Body of Christ. This very diversity of graces, ministries, and works gathers the children of God into one, because ‘all these things are the work of one and the same Spirit' (1 Cor 12:11)"27.

  37. The Pentecostal Spirit addresses everyone "in his own native language" (Acts 2:8). It testifies to the one gospel in many tongues. It allows many forms of proclamation, reception and response. It renews and unites the most diverse forms of teaching and piety, life-style and law, tradition and rite, and thus guides more deeply into "all the truth" (Jn 16:13) and into full unity. Thus life together in Christ requires individuals as well as communities gratefully to recognize their own talents, to husband them faithfully and to place them willingly at the disposal of the whole. At the same time, they must be open to the special gifts which others have received. "While preserving unity in essentials, let all members of the Church, according to the office entrusted to each, preserve a proper freedom in the various forms of spiritual life and discipline, in the variety of liturgical rites and even in the theological elaborations of revealed truth. In all things let charity be exercised"28.

          3. Dynamism
  38. As historical reality, the unity in Christ exists in a process of becoming; as living reality, it is directed towards growing and bearing fruit even though decay constantly threatens.

  39. In a world afflicted by sin, unity is forever involved in the struggle between "Spirit and flesh", "light and darkness", good and evil, between Christ and all God's adversaries. It is inevitably affected by the dramatic dynamism of this struggle which lasts until the end of the world. Threatened from within and without, the church is called to strive for unity and salvation "with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12) and to trust fully in the Lord.

  40. To the extent that this happens, Christian unity is drawn into the dynamism of grace. As unity in faith, it grows and works, just as faith does. Like faith, life together in Christ is "being-on-the-way". As unity in hope, it must, like hope itself, reach out for what is to come. Like hope, unity lives more on what is to come than on what is. It is never satisfied with what has been attained and never despairs because of the unattained. As unity in love, it never reaches its final consummation on earth. Like love, life together in Christ always strives for more than what has been achieved.

  41. Like all Christian life in this world, unity stands under the sign of the "already" and the "not yet". Because a gift has been received which cannot be comprehended, there is the assurance of an ineffably greater grace yet to come. "It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him" (1 Jn 3:2). "The Lord who is bringing all things into full unity at the last is he who constrains us to seek the unity which he wills for his Church on earth here and now"29.

    e. All-Encompassing Community
  42. Life together in Christ is lived in manifold personal and social relationships. (1) They are rooted and flow into the Triune God, (2) they encompass all believers and (3) finally all human beings.

          1. Unity of the One Triune God
  43. "The love of the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit is the source and goal of the unity which the Triune God wills for all men and creation"30.

  44. Christian unity is created in the image and likeness of the Triune God. "The highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit"31. Thus the plea in the high-priestly prayer is, "even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us" (Jn 17:2 1).

  45. Christian unity is lived in personal fellowship with the Triune God. Inasmuch as human are enabled to live, through the Holy Spirit, as sons and daughters of the Father with and in Christ, they become truly one. "And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1:3). "I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one" (Jn 17:23). This takes place through the Holy Spirit, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (1 Cor 12:13), "one spirit with him" (1 Cor 6:17). The more intensive the believer's personal nearness to the Triune God, the stronger is the bond uniting him to the neighbor. "For they can achieve depth and ease in strengthening mutual brotherhood to the degree that they enjoy profound communion with the Father, the Word, and the Spirit"32.

          2. Unity of All Believers in Christ
  46. Unity in Christ is both personal and social. It consists not of an external bond but of personal ties. These ties are actualized ever anew where human beings obey the call of grace. They transcend the limits of space and time and encompass all believers. "All in each place who are baptized into Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord and Savior are brought by the Holy Spirit into one fully committed fellowship ... all... at the same time are united with the whole Christian fellowship in all places and all ages"33.

  47. "Such a fellowship means for those who participate in it nothing less than a renewed mind and spirit, a full participation in common praise and prayer, the shared realities of penitence and forgiveness, mutuality in suffering and joy, listening together to the same Gospel, responding in faith, obedience and service, joining in the one mission of Christ in the world, a self-forgetting love for all for whom Christ died"34.

          3. Unity for the World
  48. Like Christ, his church exits "for the life of the world" (Jn 6:51). Its members are to be one "so that the world may believe" (Jn 17:21). Their corporate witness together with their common life is to lead the world to the faith on which its salvation depends.

  49. Just as mission and unity are intimately connected in Jesus' high priestly prayer, so they belong together in the life of the church. The church can fulfil its mission only to the extent it is one. It will be one only in so far as it obeys the call of its Lord and proclaims the gospel to all creation (cf. Mk 16:15). Its missionary activity has a twofold goal: "evangelization and the planting of the Church among those peoples and groups where she has not yet taken root"35. Neither is it fully attainable without unity. The good news of reconciling love appears incredible when the messengers are unreconciled or even in conflict with each other. Similarly, the planting of the church is gravely endangered when it suffers from schism at its roots. "Hence, by the same mandate which makes missions necessary, all the baptized are called to be gathered into one flock, and thus to be able to bear unanimous witness before the nations to Christ their Lord"36.

  50. Moreover, Christian unity is of decisive help in promoting yet other forms of service in the world. The corporate life in Christ is to be "the sign of the coming unity of humankind"37 and an aid to its free and just development. "The surrender of confessional complacency, and the respect for the convictions of others helps to diminish the explosiveness of human and social conflicts. The struggle for fellowship among all Christians, in which social and cultural differences, race membership and national ties have lost their divisive power, is part of the great battle for healing of a world lacerated by tension and enmity"38.

  51. On the other hand, the one church receives and learns from all fellow human beings. Christian striving for unity is influenced for good and ill by secular events. Social, political and cultural activity cannot produce Christian unity, but may greatly contribute to its realization. Much in the modern ecumenical movement has undoubtedly first become possible through general historical developments. Even hostile actions can serve the corporate life in Christ, for many who had not sufficiently heeded the Lord's call to unity have been drawn closer together by persecution and need. On the other hand, secular factors can jeopardize Christian unity both from within and without. False ideals, for example, can block insight into what is essential to unity and set ideologies in place of faith. Similarly, efforts towards unification confined to single nations, races or classes can lead to erroneous ways of seeing and practicing Christian unity.

  52. Both church and world in their manifold interrelationships are constantly in need of the creative love of God. They are always in every way dependent on "the God ... who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist" (Rom 4:17). The Lord who calls the dead to fruitful life can overcome all threats and obstacles to Christian unity and turn that unity into an effective instrument for the salvation of the world. He who creates that which is truly new can transform our wasted opportunities into reality. He can create new forms of unity beyond what we have yet glimpsed or conceived. We cannot speak of them adequately, but we can together remain open for them. If we keep our eyes fixed on the unity and mission of the church and the redemption and consummation of the world, there is nothing which we cannot expect from the Lord who says, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev 21:5).

    Part II


  53. We have spoken with one voice in "obedience to the faith" about the "goal of unity" in the sense of a full spiritual and ecclesial fellowship. Our common testimony on this point impels us to address the question of what concrete "steps towards unity" can be taken by Roman Catholic and Lutheran Christians and churches now and in the immediate future. Only by means of such concrete steps shall we draw nearer to "the goal of visible unity in one faith and in one eucharistic fellowship expressed in worship and in common life in Christ ... in order that the world may believe"39.

  54. Our search is for steps in "a process of gradual rapprochement ... in which various stages are possible"40. In such an open process of growing together we can and should set our eyes on intermediate goals and keep on re-examining the methods of advance. By moving in this way from an incomplete to a more and more complete communion, we shall be able to take account of a wide variety of different historical, theological and regional situations. In being willing to enter into such an open process, we are well aware that God the Holy Spirit himself will show us steps and lead us in paths which for the most part we cannot at present envisage.

  55. In accordance with our reflections on "unity as goal", we now propose to ask what "steps towards unity" are implied by (a) the grace of ecclesial communion, (b) the "means" which constitute it, (c) the spiritual manner of its realization, (d) its structural form and (e) its universality.

    a. Community by Grace
  56. What "steps towards unity" are implied by the nature of ecclesial fellowship (communio) as a gift of God's grace which precedes all our efforts?

  57. We are first reminded that, because ecclesial communion is a gift of God's grace, we must give priority to spiritual ecumenism in our striving for church unity. "There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart. For it is from newness of attitudes, from self-denial and unstinted love, that yearnings for unity take their rise and grow towards maturity. We should therefore pray to the divine Spirit for the grace to be genuinely self-denying, humble, gentle in the service of others, and to have an attitude of brotherly generosity towards them"41. The Reformation also understood itself as a call to repentance and renewal in the one church; indeed, it demanded that the life of Christians be a daily penitence.

  58. In the relationship of our churches, as well as in that of Roman Catholic and Lutheran Christians to each other, such a basic attitude will be concretized in these spiritual steps towards unity:

    • We shall note with deep remorse that, in light of the history of our separation, we cannot onesidedly shift the blame onto our partners, but must instead confess our own fault for the separation.

    • We must become open to discovering great spiritual treasures in the past and the present of other churches and to receiving in our encounters with them all the gifts, stimulation and guidance which these treasures offer.

    • We discover that, despite the divisions caused by our sin, the Spirit has maintained through its work in our churches a fundamental fellowship which constitutes the primary precondition for all our striving for the visible unity of the church.

  59. Spiritual ecumenism has been furthered through general historical studies as well as special research in the history of theology and doctrine. During the past decades these have already helped to reduce prejudice, improve knowledge and provide a fairer evaluation of the past and the present of both churches, particularly the history of the schism since the 16th century. But we deem it essential:

    • to continue this process of removing confessionally conditioned prejudices and misjudgments of other churches from the entirety of theological research and consciousness as well as from textbooks of church history and systematic theology, and to develop an ecumenical view of church history and history of doctrine since the 16th century. The joint Roman Catholic/Lutheran study on the Augsburg Confession is a promising example (42);

    • beyond the area of specialized theological literature, to eliminate tendentious school-book accounts of the 16th century breach and of the churches involved in it and, more generally, to arrive at a wider and more critical view of the past and the present of one's own church;

    • to strive for an ever more intensive and direct knowledge of the other church (its worship, piety, artistic and cultural achievements, and service to society) and thereby gain a more vivid impression of its spiritual wealth and greater openness to closer fellowship.

  60. Such steps can be signs of conversion by which both churches show that they are united by the joint resolve, not to conform to the world, but rather to overcome every form of self-righteousness.

    b. Mediation of Community
  61. What then, are the "steps towards unity" which should be taken in the separate as well as joint practice of our churches in the light of the bestowal of the spirit of fellowship through word, sacrament and diaconal service.

          1. Word
  62. It is the conviction of both our churches that spiritual fellowship in Christ is imparted through the word. This word of salvation is basic to the church and is normatively given in Holy Scripture. It is therefore an ever-necessary step towards unity for both churches to live and be guided in their spiritual life by the testimony of Holy Scripture. This makes it essential to utilize the full range of scriptural utterances — rather than simply a selection — in theology, preaching and in group and personal Bible study. This certainly does not exclude the quest for a center of Scripture, for central and less central statements, and for rules of interpretation which derive therefrom. Yet the failure on both sides to hear and accept the full range of scriptural testimonies has contributed in no small measure to the estrangement of the churches.

  63. Both churches must increasingly adopt a common orientation towards Holy Scripture. This includes jointly sponsored translations of the Bible, common commentaries on biblical books, and the kind of joint ministerial and congregational Bible studies which are already being carried out in many places. The coordination of the scriptural readings in the worship services (pericopes) of both churches should also be considered.

  64. It is the conviction of both churches that God's word is also transmitted through church traditions even though they differ in their theological evaluations. The canon of Holy Scripture is certainly itself a weighty and fundamental part of church tradition43. Further, the creeds and official dogmatic decisions of the undivided church have special importance. Greater consideration of the early church and medieval pre-Reformation tradition shared by both churches could function as a decisive step towards unity. Strenuous efforts to understand the diverging traditions since the 16th century are also important as steps on the way to unity. Here, too, the ecumenical treatment of the Augsburg Confession provides an important example.

  65. Cooperative concern for Scripture and tradition includes critical hermeneutical reflection. It is an important theological task to seek for common principles of interpretation of Scripture and of the differing church traditions. Such principles could help significantly in dealing with controversial issues such as the development of the office of the ministry. These principles must acknowledge the impossibility of simply ignoring our traditions or surrendering our historical identities on the way to unity. On the other hand, however, it must be remembered that our identities are themselves involved in a process which leads us to relate our traditions in new ways to Holy Scripture and to interpret them critically in terms of our contemporary understanding of reality for the sake of today's witness to the world. By noting the converging elements in this process, we are enabled to arrive at a newly conscious and determined identity.

          2. Sacraments
  66. Spiritual communion in Christ is also imparted through the sacraments. It would thus be a decisive step on the way to unity if in each of the two churches the sacraments were to assume a central significance through the dedicated and active participation of believers in their celebration.

  67. Consciousness of the basic importance of baptism for both salvation and fellowship must be promoted in both churches. A renewal of baptismal practice can above all contribute to this end. Both children and adults should be increasingly baptized in the worship service of the whole congregation; water should be used in such a way that its symbolic significance is unmistakable; and the correct baptismal formula should never be omitted; remembrance of baptism should be fostered, and particular stress should be laid on a Christian education as deriving from or leading to baptism. If these conditions are fulfilled, as many churches have discovered, all doubts regarding the mutual recognition of baptism become superfluous.

  68. "In the Eucharist, too, it is progress towards the center which brings us nearer to each other"44. Despite the legitimate variety of existing possibilities, the liturgical form of the Lord's Supper in both churches should have the basic features and elements summarized in the document on the Lord's Supper45. Both churches must promote knowledge and understanding of the different but not church-dividing customs in the celebration of the eucharist (e.g. as regards liturgical vestments, sign of the cross, kneeling), and the differences which exist even within the two churches must be respected. In any case, the festive character of the eucharist should be emphasized enough to endear this celebration to the congregations. There should also be more eucharistic services designed especially for children and adolescents. At present, after periods of neglect, there is a renewal of eucharistic practice in Lutheran churches. It is urgently necessary to integrate the celebration of the eucharist fully into the main Sunday service and to urge congregations to commune more frequently. Care should be taken to deal reverently with the consecrated elements after the eucharistic celebration. Both churches should together endeavor to define the conditions for admission to the Lord's Supper — both with regard to age and to the various pastoral needs.

  69. In reference to the other rites which the Roman Catholic Church regards as sacraments, theological endeavors have led to a better mutual understanding. Confession and penance, which the Augsburg Confession treats in conjunction with the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, have become a particular pastoral task for both churches in which it is necessary to rethink the understanding of sin. The Lutheran tradition does not fundamentally reject the application of the concept of sacrament to the office of the ministry and ordination, and both churches hold that through the act of ordination the Holy Spirit with his gracious gifts takes the ordinand into service46. According to Lutheran understanding and practice, weddings and confirmation are also acts of grace to be celebrated amidst the prayers of the congregation47.

          3. Service
  70. Both churches hold that the imparting of spiritual fellowship through word and sacrament needs the ministry of ordained office-holders. The ministry of these office-holders is for both churches inseparably connected with the ministry carried on by the whole congregation through the manifold gifts of its members in proclamation, prayer and action. Yet we must move beyond this common starting point. The ministry is at present under discussion both within and between our churches, and further theological and canonical clarifications of the concepts of the ministerial office and of ordination are essential steps towards unity. Such clarifications must constantly keep in mind the views and discussions in the other church. The way ministry is exercised must be marked by the spirit of brotherhood and partnership, by readiness to serve and by deep piety. When practice becomes credible, it will be easier to eliminate distorted views of the ministry and to achieve ecumenical agreement in this area.

  71. Since both the success and failure of ecumenical rapprochement depend heavily on the church's ministers, stress must be laid on their acquiring ecumenical awareness and experience. Ecumenical awareness needs to be developed by permeating theological education with ecumenism. This is not merely a matter of providing basic information regarding the state and progress of the ecumenical and theological dialogue. Moreover, there are already examples of cooperation between theologians of both churches in a single educational institution and also cases of integrated theological education for which both churches are jointly responsible. It would be desirable to expand these initiatives and develop new ones in other places. The existence of such ecumenical institutions can help ensure that theologians of the future will contribute even more than in the past to the ecumenical dialogue.

  72. The growth of ecumenical consciousness should also lead to regular ecumenical retreats and courses of study for ministers. joint academic study of pastoral concerns and of the gospel entrusted to us would thus be combined with the spiritual experience of common prayer and worship and with exchanges on the personal dimensions of faith. It is necessary for theological reflection and spiritual experience to interact in order to avoid intellectualizing the dialogue or engaging in unreflective pastoral practice. Indeed, all aspects of the inter-church dialogue should be characterized by the interaction of doctrinal discussions and spirituality.

    c. Realization of Community
  73. What "steps towards unity" are suggested by looking at the realization of spiritual community in faith, hope and love?

          1. Community of Faith
  74. Encounters between Roman Catholics and Lutherans on matters of faith have shifted increasingly in the last decades from confrontation and polemics towards a dialogue committed to the joint search for the fullness of truth. Dialogue requires openness towards the testimony of others regarding the faith and serves to test one's own understanding of faith and of the doctrinal tradition in which one stands. The purpose of mutual questioning in fraternal encounters is to manifest and recognize the truth in all its diversity or else to correct and formulate anew previous views. Unanswered questions are also bearable given the presence of a sincere desire for "fraternal rivalry"48, and providing they stimulate growth together into the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:15; 1 Cor 13:9-11).

  75. The dialogue between our churches has led in the last few years to the production of documents in which it has been possible to make joint statements on questions of faith where church-dividing contradictions previously prevented unity49. The reception of these results of the dialogue by our churches is an urgent task and step towards unity. Such a reception can occur in many ways: ministers may study these documents and make them fruitful in their preaching and practice, or the documents can be used in the education of church workers, or congregational groups can get to know them. In each of these cases, it makes good sense to involve the members of both churches in the process of reception, for in this way they can themselves experience the dialogical activity which has produced the results. It is particularly important, however, for the leaders of both churches to engage officially in the reception process and to decide on the ecclesiastical and ecumenical status of these documents.

  76. Another necessary step towards unity occurs when that fellowship in faith which has been given to us is actually practiced by means of a common witness to Christian faith for which both sides assume responsibility. joint services of the word are already being held in many places. There should be closer cooperation than before on the mission field. Wherever possible, joint radio and television broadcasts on behalf of the Christian message should be arranged. In many countries, it appears extremely urgent to arrive at close Catholic-Lutheran cooperation in the school systems, and in any case, the churches have a joint responsibility for the Christian education of children and young people. There are also responsibilities for working together in the field of both theological and non-theological Christian literature, as has been shown by cooperation between Roman Catholic and Protestant publishers and by the collaborative production and translation of Roman Catholic-Protestant writings. Extensive opportunities also exist in the fields of church music and fine arts.

  77. What can be said in general regarding the pastoral responsibilities of the churches is that no one church can single-handedly carry on the work of evangelization in a secularized or traditionally non-Christian society. Moreover, the very credibility of the Christian witness is here at stake. In so far as varied circumstances in the different countries allow, there should be joint planning of pastoral care in new housing developments, in hospitals, at universities and colleges, and in work with children or youth. "Ecumenical bridgehead communities" could result, which might provide examples and stimuli for pastoral care in traditional congregations. Pastoral care for confessionally mixed marriages presents a particular area of Christian responsibility. It is of decisive importance for Christian witness whether such families develop into nuclei of ecumenical understanding or into battlefields of separated traditions which, in the end, lead to alienation from the faith.

          2. Community of Hope
  78. Christian faith lives in an attitude of hope. Spiritual fellowship in faith necessarily becomes fellowship in hope. The hope, which "does not disappoint us" (Rom 5:5), is our support on our way towards each other. All the "steps towards unity" mentioned above, and all those still to be considered, are possible only if we are carried forward by our common hope. Sin is not only the deepest cause of our separation, but it also leads us again and again to setbacks and manifestations of discouragement on the way to each other. Our hope is in the faithfulness of the Lord who continually triumphs within our sinful hearts and desires to lead us to final and complete communion. In spite of everything, therefore, he gives us courage anew to take new steps towards each other.

  79. Our hope, however, is not solely concerned with our own road towards Christian unity, but is also focused on the salvation and redemption of the world as a whole. We are empowered in this all-embracing perspective to give an "accounting of hope" against both resignation and Promethean self-assertion, and are encouraged to take together those concrete steps of hope which are at the same time "steps towards the unity" of our churches. Such steps of hope are taken in the knowledge that all the scientific, technological and humanitarian progress of the world cannot bring redemption. Instead, Christ will return to judge and to establish a new world. Yet in light of that coming, signs of the future can already be raised aloft in the world as it now is.

  80. Steps taken in hope are such signs of Christ's future. They occur where Christians and churches offer themselves in service to suffering people, in service to changing those social conditions which in part cause human suffering, and in service to overcoming the worldwide dangers arising from the ecological crisis. They occur where Christians accept hope as an invitation to risk50. This service, based on common hope, should be jointly carried out by Christians and churches in their diaconal and charitable activities. Appropriate joint initiatives should be developed or newly started on all levels. The churches should also jointly support, as much as possible, the studies necessary to carry out these initiatives as well as the liaison work with non-church authorities. Such steps of hope, which lead us both towards Christian unity and common prayer, can become signs of the presence of Christ among us as the one who bears and overcomes our maladies.

          3. Community of Love
  81. Christian faith proves itself in love (1 Cor 13:13; Gal 5:6), and thus our spiritual fellowship must be a fellowship of love. Such love arises from the ever new encounter with Christ in the word and eucharist, for "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jr 15:13). Thus when the community of faith takes shape as a community of love it is represented in a particularly important form in the joint celebration of the eucharist. We are saddened that the present relationships of our churches do not yet allow full eucharistic fellowship. We confess anew our longing for "the goal of visible unity in one faith and in one eucharistic fellowship"51. The credibility of our witness to the world and of our very celebrations of the eucharist is menaced by our divisions at these celebrations. This suggests that the work of the Holy Spirit is not absent from the great pressure for eucharistic fellowship we are now experiencing. We shall not cease to search for possible ways to allow mutual admission to communion in special cases.

  82. In place of the as yet impossible full eucharistic fellowship, we must create opportunities in which our still separated churches can unite in common praise, prayer and supplication for each other, for all churches and for the world, and in the preaching of the word of God and confession of his glorious deeds. This was the reason for the establishment of the week of prayer for Christian unity. This week of prayer should pose a challenge to prayer life of all of Christendom. It would lose its spiritual significance if it were demoted to an isolated annual manifestation of an otherwise non-existent ecumenical practice. It is our hope that such joint services of prayer will lead our church congregations towards a more and more perfect community of love.

  83. Despite remaining difficulties, efforts should be made to promote mutual participation in Sunday worship, at baptisms, weddings, and funerals, and at ministerial ordinations and installations, otherwise our expressions of brotherliness will be limited to secular occasions such as receptions or other social events. In any case, quite apart from joint worship, greater ecumenical exchange of visits, encounters and conversations will contribute, by means of better mutual acquaintance and involvement in a common spirituality, to a deepening of a spiritual sharing perfected in love. Wherever such encounters result in unusual forms of ecumenical fellowship, even when they may seem to have gone too far, the church authorities should not pass judgment until they have had first-hand contact with those immediately involved. If they thus at least indirectly participate in ecumenical learning processes, they will be more ready to grant in love the necessary trust to those who are engaged in continuing brotherly ecumenical conversations.

  84. The unity for which we hope and towards which we move as brothers on the road will not spare us conflicts. For "the Church ... is at the same time holy and always in need of being purified"52. It "goes on its way in sin and weakness"53. The conflicts require consultations between representatives of the church leadership which should be carried on in a spirit of love and forgiveness. In addition, it is possible to form "groups of reconciliation", made up of representatives from both churches. These could function as independent ecumenical courts of appeal. Over and over again our congregations discover that problems of pastoral care (such as those of religious liberty, changes in church membership, use of church buildings and mixed marriages) serve as fuel for hostile actions and occasions for antiecumenical prejudice. Groups such as those just mentioned could provide a forum for the open discussion and resolution of minor or even major conflicts. As expressions of readiness for reconciliation and examples and signs of love and peace, they could have significance far beyond the boundaries of the church.

  85. The love which tests our common faith cannot in any case remain confined to our fellowship with each other. We are rather called to undertake joint responsibilities in following the Lord in his loving devotion to the whole world We must make clear in our life and in our teaching what the "new commandment" (Jn 13:34-35; 1 Jn 2:7-11) gives and demands. That is why one indispensable step is the striving for as united a witness as possible in ethical and social-ethical questions. Only when we together dedicate ourselves to the love and charity which also serves the social needs of human beings throughout the world — loved by God yet suffering in many ways — will the love which unites us be placed in the proper perspective.

    d. The Form of Community
  86. What are the "steps towards unity" suggested by the visible shape of our spiritual fellowship in its diversity and dynamism?

          1. Recognition of Ministries
  87. The relations between our churches continue to be troubled by the non-recognition of ministries. As is well known, Catholics and Lutherans consider this question from different viewpoints. Whereas Lutherans have "never denied the existence of the office of the ministry in the Roman Catholic Church"54 (although, at the time of the Reformation, they made obedience to Roman Catholic bishops dependent on their permitting the Reformation proclamation), Vatican II speaks of a defectus ("lack") of the sacrament of orders in the transmission of the ministry in the Reformation churches55. Meanwhile, the conviction has been growing that it is not a matter of a total absence, but instead as a "lack of the fullness of ministry", and it is not denied that the ministry in Lutheran churches exercises essential functions of the office which, according to Roman Catholic conviction, Jesus Christ instituted for his church56. It is especially urgent that on the basis of the present state of ecumenical understanding the responsible church authorities take whatever steps are possible towards full recognition of ministries in the context of mutual reception by the churches as a whole. This includes the broadest possible reception of the results of the ecumenical dialogue on the ministry, during the course of which church leaders should rethink prior positions. Ordination liturgies, for example, should be examined to see whether they accord with positions arrived at in ecumenical discussions.

          2. Credible Practice
  88. Just as the pastoral practice of ordained parish clergy is of great importance on the local level, so that actualization of ministries of church leadership beyond the congregational level is of decisive significance for possible mutual readiness to enter the fellowship of the historic episcopacy or of the Petrine office. Thus, a credible practice of church government must avoid the dangers of bureaucracy and anonymous administration. Policies must be understandable and concern for cooperation with all who serve in the church unmistakable. A certain quality of spiritual power — and not mere juridical competence — must be present. In these ways the directives and decisions of those who exercise oversight (or episcope) will be visibly related to what actually is needed and their words will possess an intrinsic authority.

          3. Collaboration
  89. Mutual respect and collaboration of ministers on all levels should be practiced more extensively than heretofore. One especially important step on the way to a common episcopacy could take place through a more intensive and thoroughly institutionalized cooperation between the leaders of both churches than that which is at present customary. Consideration should be given to forming liaison groups (which might have either a more episcopal or more synodical structure) with authority to make decisions in particular matters. In any case, greater cooperation should be sought, not only on a regional basis, but also on the world-wide level.

  90. Naturally discrimination must cease if ministers are to cooperate on all levels. Partners, cannot cast aspersions on each other and must renounce every form of proselytism (though not mutual criticism or requests for change). Such cooperation, moreover, in which the partners become to some extent co-responsible for each other, provides initiation into the experience of real and legitimate diversity in the church. It is against the nature of the search for Christian unity to level down all differences in the realm of church life or to make unfair demands on one side or the other. The operative principle must here be that the changes reciprocally risked by increased cooperation should be balanced by a legitimate concern to preserve the identities and special characteristics which each side derives from its tradition.

    e. All-Encompassing Community
  91. Lastly what are the "steps towards unity" suggested by the all-encompassing character of the community towards which we move?

          1. Fellowship of All Christians
  92. The goal of full communion towards which Catholic and Lutheran Christians and churches are now moving together points far beyond itself. It points to that perfect communion which we shall have with the Triune God at the end of all time. But it also points beyond itself in the sense that Roman Catholic-Lutheran fellowship is not yet the fellowship of all Christians. We must see our rapprochement in the context of the whole ecumenical movement, and not least in relationship to the notable institutional expression of that movement in the World Council of Churches. A community limited to Catholics and Lutherans would not be all-encompassing, because substantial parts of Christendom (such as the Orthodox, Anglicans, Reformed, Methodists and Baptists, but also, for example, the independent churches of Africa) would be missing from this fellowship. This would not only be a numerical loss, but also a substantive deficiency because of the absence of insights of spiritual and theological importance and the resultant lack of full catholicity. The road to Catholic and Lutheran unity must therefore be unmistakably open to the wider and greater fellowship of Christians.

  93. This means we must always be alert in the Roman Catholic-Lutheran dialogue to what others in other traditions and churches and other bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues are saying and thinking on the questions with which we deal. The results of the Roman Catholic-Lutheran dialogues can prove fruitful to other bilateral and multilateral theological discussions, but they must also be critically examined in the light of the conclusions which others reach. Our various levels of encounter with each other in worship and action must be continually open to other ecumenical partners, Especially significant examples of this wider cooperation are provided by national Christian or church councils as well as by various joint church working groups. These may serve as starting points for more and more intensive ecumenical fellowship. It is therefore important that the various bilateral dialogues should have the possibility of meeting together regularly in common forums. The membership of Roman Catholic theologians in the Commission on Faith and Order together with other forms of collaboration between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches suggest possibilities of even more intensive collaboration which should be realized.

          2. Unity of Humankind
  94. There is also another and more far-reaching sense in which Catholic-Lutheran fellowship points beyond itself. God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4) and to gather before his throne in perfect fellowship. The unity of the church is directed to the unity of humankind. We Christians have a shared responsibility throughout history for the sowing of hate and discord instead of love and reconciliation. Power, egotism and a misconceived orthodoxy have played a calamitous role in the church and through the church in the world. So also the present state of Christianity with its many divisions and impotence damages the effectiveness of its witness. Yet however modestly and reticently Christians must speak of themselves at this point, we nevertheless know that God wills to work continuously in Christianity by his saving and reconciling power and through Christianity in the world. When Christians and churches re-unite, their way of reconciliation and love could become a sign and ferment in the midst of a world rent asunder by conflicts and enmity. Yet we must remember that God, on the contrary, also calls the church to its senses through, the world and through his dealings with it. The world, in other words, challenges the church in manifold ways.

  95. "Steps towards unity" will be taken in this universal sense (which embraces the whole of divided humanity) whenever our ecumenical efforts lead Christians of different nationality, race, color, culture, social and political conviction, and class background to unite in mutual understanding and join hands in mutual reconciliation. "Steps towards unity" in this wider sense, therefore, include all the efforts jointly undertaken for peace, justice and reconciliation in the world and serving to eliminate political as well as confessional images of enmity and all the self-righteousness associated with them. We need increasingly to transform the still prevalent parallel existence of the churches into an ecumenical fellowship of planning, speaking and acting on the congregational level, on the level of regional study and action groups, as well as on the level of responsibility for church government. This would greatly enhance the credibility and effectiveness of Christian commitment for a reconciled and peaceful humanity, and would draw all people closer together by allowing the light which comes from Christ to shine more brightly.

  96. When we think of the steps that bring us closer to the all-embracing fellowship of human beings in Christ, we also know that these steps of ours will never themselves attain the hoped-for community. They are at best Spirit-worked signs of what Christ alone can bring to perfection when he returns after having prepared the ground for the new age through his first coming. This confidence for the future, however, should not become an excuse for the constant failures of imagination, commitment and openness which we must ever confess anew. It should rather console and uphold us in the certainty of hope even when our efforts are repeatedly frustrated by factors inside and outside the churches. It leads us finally to the adoration of him who alone is the beginning, the midst and the end of all our steps and ways.


This document was signed by all members of the joint commission:


The Rt. Rev. H. L. Martensen (chairperson)
Prof. Dr. J. Hoffmann
The Rev. J. F. Hotchkin
The Rev. Chr. Mhagama
Prof. Dr. St. Napiorkowski
Dr. V. Pfnür
The Rt. Rev. Dr. P.-W. Scheele


Prof. Dr. G. A. Lindbeck (chairperson)
The Rt. Rev. D. H. Dietzfelbinger
The Rev. Dr. K. Hafenscher
Drs. P. Nasution
The Rev. I. K. Nsibu
Dr. L. Thunberg
Prof. Dr. Bertoldo Weber


Roman Catholic
The Rev. H. Legrand, OP
Prof. Dr. H. Schütte
Prof. Dr. G. Forell
Dr. U. Kühn
Prof. Dr. H. Meyer


Mgr. Dr. A. Klein (Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity)
The Rev. Dr. Carl H. Mau, Jr. (Lutheran World Federation)
The Rev. Dr. Daniel F. Martensen (Lutheran World Federation)
Mgr. Dr. C. Moeller (Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity)
Prof. Dr. V. Vajta (Lutheran World Federation)

23 February 1980
(Information Service 46 (1981/II) 64-79)


  1. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, No. 1.

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  2. Discussion Paper on the Ecumenical Role of the World Confessional Families in the One Ecumenical Movement, 1974, No. 53.

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  3. The Evanston Report. The Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Evanston 1954 (London: SCM Press, 1955), Report of Section 1, No. 9, p. 85.

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  4. The New Delhi Report. The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches 1961 (New York: Association Press, 1962), Report of the Section on Unity, No. 9, p. 119 (hereafter: New Delhi).

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  5. Ecumenical Relations of the Lutheran World Federation. Report of the Working Group on the Interrelations Between the Various Bilateral Dialogues (Geneva, 1977), No. 171. See also Lutheran Identity (Strasbourg: Institute for Ecumenical Research, 1977), No. 7.

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  6. Ecumenical Relations, No. 181.

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  7. Cf. The Eucharist, Lutheran/Roman Catholic Joint Commission (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1980), Nos. 25-28.

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  8. Lutheran Identity, No. 26.

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  9. Cf. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 7.

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  10. Cf. ibid., No. 11.

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  11. Ibid., Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 26.

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  12. Ibid., Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 1.

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  13. Cf. Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XIII, 3-17, The Book of Concord, pp. 211 ff.: The Smalcald Articles, III, IV, The Book of Concord, p. 310. See also Report of the Joint Lutheran/Roman Catholic Study Commission on "The Gospel and the Church". Lutheran World, Vol. XIX, No. 3, 1972, pp. 268f., No. 59 (hereafter: Malta).

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  14. Lutheran Identity, No. 28.

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  15. One Baptism, One Eucharist And a Mutually Recognized Ministry, Three agreed statements (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 19785, Faith and Order Paper No. 73) (hereafter: Accra), The Ministry, No. 15; see also on the understanding of the ministry, Malta, Nos. 47-67.

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  16. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 18.

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  17. Cf. Ecumenical Relations, No. 37.

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  18. Cf. ibid., No. 161.

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  19. Gemeinsame Synode der Bistümer in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Pastorale Zusammenarbeit der Kirchen im Dienst an der christlichen Einheit (Würzburg, 1974), 3.21.

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  20. Breaking Barriers — Nairobi 1975, The Official Report of the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (London: SPCK and Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1976), Report of Section II, No. IV, 13-18, p. 64 (hereafter: Nairobi).

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  21. What Kind of Unity? (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1974, Faith and Order Paper 69), p. 120, A. II.

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  22. Ecumenical Relations, No. 39.

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  23. New Delhi, No. 2, p. 116.

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  24. Ecumenical Relations, No. 205.

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  25. In Christ — A New Community, The Proceedings of the Sixth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation, Dar-es-Salaam. Tanzania, June 13-25, 1977 (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1977), Models of Unity, No. 13, p. 173.

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  26. New Delhi, No. 10, p. 120.

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  27. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 32.

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  28. Ibid., Decree on Ecumenism, No. 4.

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  29. New Delhi, No. 1, p. 116.

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  30. Ibid.

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  31. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, No. 2.

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  32. Ibid., No. 7.

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  33. New Delhi, No. 2, p. 116.

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  34. Ibid., No. 10, p. 119.

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  35. Vatican II, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity.

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  36. Ibid.

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  37. Nairobi, No. 7, p. 61.

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  38. "More than Church Unity". Study Document for the Fifth Assembly. Lutheran World, Vol. XVII, No. 1, 1970, pp. 49f.

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  39. Constitution of the World Council of Churches, III.

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  40. Malta, No. 73.

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  41. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, No. 7.

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  42. Confessio Augustana — Bekenntnis des einen Glaubens. Gemeinsame Untersuchung katholischer und lutherischer Theologen. Edited by H. Meyer and H. Schütte, together with E. Iserloh, W. Kasper, G. Kretschmar, W. Lohff, G. W. Forell, J. McCue (Frankfurt/M. — Paderborn, 1980).

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  43. Cf. Malta, No. 17.

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  44. The Eucharist, No. 75.

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  45. Cf. ibid., No. 76; and Accra, The Eucharist, No. 28.

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  46. Cf. Malta, No. 59.

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  47. See above, No. 19.

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  48. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, No. 11.

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  49. Cf. especially Malta and The Eucharist.

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  50. Sharing in One Hope. Commission on Faith and Order, Bangalore, 1978 (Geneva; World Council of Churches, 1979, Faith and Order Paper No. 92), VII.

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  51. Constitution of the World Council of Churches, III.

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  52. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 8.

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  53. Gemeinsame Synode der Bistümer, No. 4.3.3.

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  54. Malta, No. 64.

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  55. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, No. 22.

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  56. Cf. Groupe des Dombes, Pour une réconciliation des ministères (Taizé: Les Presses de Taizé, 1973).

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