As we blogged about, Pope Francis recently visited a Lutheran church in Rome, where, in answer to a question, he expressed openness to allowing Roman Catholics and Lutherans to commune together. An article on the subject and an interview with the pastor of the Roman Lutheran congregation have been published in the National Catholic Register. The interview is excerpted here after the jump.
We conservative Lutherans agree with conservative Catholics in being opposed to any kind of intercommunion between the churches. We both agree that communion requires full doctrinal agreement. The pastor here is of the Lutheran World Fellowship/ELCA variety, which believes otherwise and that ecumenical unity trumps just about every other consideration.
But I found two things interesting in this discussion. First, the interviewer does not have a clue about what Lutherans believe about Holy Communion. He uses “the Real Presence” to describe the Catholic view, assuming that Lutherans don’t believe in that, even though the term is a Lutheran concept!
More significantly, though, the Pope is acknowledging that Lutherans have the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, that the Lutheran sacrament is valid. I don’t know that a pope has ever acknowledged that before. And if the Sacrament is valid, that means the Lutheran pastoral office is valid, which, as the pastor says, has long been a key issue. [Read more...]