On Saturday, February 25, 2017, Together with the co-chair of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States, Rev. Dr. Lowell Almen, and Fr. Thomas A. Baima, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs, delivered a joint address at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights on the current state of relations between Catholic and Lutheran Christians. Fr. Baima and Dr. Almen’s joint address reviewed the great strides made by the international dialogue over the past fifty years. The two scholars focused on the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which was signed by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation and the most recent document by the United States dialogue, which summarizes all of the theological agreements to date.
The joint address took place after the pastors of Our Savior Lutheran Church and Saint James Catholic Church co-presided over an ecumenical morning prayer. The text of the service was identical to the one used by Pope Francis and the Lutheran bishops in Lund, Sweden during his historic visit. After that visit, Cardinal Cupich called on Catholics to use the occasion of the commemoration of the Reformation as a moment to deepen our relationship with not only the Lutheran community, but with all of our brother and sister Christians who are sadly separated from us.
Justification was the central doctrinal issue of the Reformation. With the Joint Declaration, Lutherans and Catholics are able to move beyond that divisive issue and focus their efforts on the other, remaining points of concern which still stand in the way of full communion.