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Pope Urges Dialogue With Lutherans

November 23, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II has pledged to pursue ecumenical dialogue aimed at achieving full visible unity between Catholics and Lutherans.

The 82-year-old Roman Catholic pontiff met with a delegation from the Lutheran Diocese of Nidaros in Norway, led by Bishop Finn Wagle, in Rome to celebrate the feast day of St. Olav, patron of Norway.

"We are committed to moving further ahead on the path to reconciliation," the pope said, addressing the group in English.

John Paul cited as landmarks in ecumenical relations his visit to Norway and the other predominantly Lutheran countries of Scandinavia in 1993 and the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church in 1999.

The signing ended a dispute that had lasted 482 years over how people achieve salvation.

Historically, Lutherans had stressed that salvation comes from God's grace alone, while Roman Catholics saw an important role for the works people perform.

"May the Lord help us to treasure what has been achieved so far, and may he sustain us in our efforts to hasten its development into ever broader cooperation," the pope said.

"May we ever remain open to the surprising work of the Holy Spirit among us," the pontiff added.

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