Catholic Courier

Posted: May 22, 2017

Talks with Lutherans set

By Annette Jiménez/Catholic Courier

A series of public discussions starting this spring aims to improve relations between local Catholics and Lutherans, build cooperation and mutual respect, and commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

The discussions will culminate in an Oct. 29 ecumenical worship service at Sacred Heart Cathedral, over which Bishop Salvatore R. Matano and Bishop John Stanley Macholz of the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will preside.

The series, which will focus its discussion on the document “Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017” (http://bit.ly/2pMppPK), consists of four panel discussions. The sessions will be facilitated by Father Scott Caton of Greece’s St. Lawrence Church and the Rev. Dan Hoffman of Trinity Lutheran Church in East Amherst. The next session on May 22 will take place at Incarnate Word Lutheran Church in Rochester, and the June 5 and Sept. 7 sessions will take place at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The sessions are open to all area Catholics and Lutherans, noted the Rev. Frank Hanrahan, dean of the Genesee Finger Lakes Council.

“This (dialogue) is a way of redeveloping friendships and relationships and discussion of where we connect and where we can develop more in communion between both of our churches so we can grow,” explained Bernard Grizard, diocesan director of Parish Services. “It’s kind of exciting.”

Grizard said that during the five decades since the Second Vatican Council, the two Christian denominations have developed good relations at the national level. The Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary offers an opportunity to explore what the two faiths have in common, he added.

“We Catholics and Lutherans understand our work together toward reconciliation is for the sake of the healing of the whole body of Christ into which all of us are incorporated through baptism,” declares a joint statement from the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the ELCA bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations.

The work begun by leaders of the two faiths at the national level offers a good foundation for discussions between local Catholics and Lutherans, noted Rev. Hanrahan.

“This dialogue will move us forward, especially with both bishops involved in the process,” he added. “And it will help move us closer in working together in the church not only theologically but in community service projects (and) move us forward to a closer worship life. I’m excited about the culmination in a service of word and prayer with both bishops participating.”

A group of about 25 members from the two faith communities have been planning the discussion series for the past several months, Grizard said. The two bishops began meeting about three months ago, he added.

“We’re looking forward very much to the dialogue,” Rev. Hanrahan added. “Bishop Matano has been very helpful and looking forward to what might come out of this. We appreciate that cooperation and want to thank him for that.”

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