Exploring the Catholic-Lutheran Relationship

by | Nov 1, 2016 | News


Rome was not built in a day! Nor can 500 year old rifts be healed in one visit. But once again Pope Francis is reaching out to another periphery – exploring the Catholic- Lutheran relationship. Time will tell what fruit will come of this journey.

Sr. Susan K. Wood, a theologian and Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, is more familiar than most in the Vincentian Family with the issues involved… and will make that journey along with the Pope.

She is the co-author of a Shared Spiritual Journey: Lutherans and Catholics Traveling Toward Unity, published cover-sharedspiritualjourneyAugust 1 by Paulist Press. Her co-author, Timothy J. Wengert, is a Lutheran historian who recently authored a commentary and study guide to Martin Luther’s 95 theses. As a member of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity, she will attend the October 31 launch of the 500th anniversary observance of the Lutheran Reformation in Lund, Sweden, where Pope Francis will be welcomed by Lutheran Archbishop Antje Jackelén, who is pictured with Pope Francis on the cover of Wood’s new book.

Wood has been working on ecumenism since 1994, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops appointed her to the committee to review the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” which was a step forward for Lutheran-Catholic relations. She has been involved in Lutheran-Catholic dialogue ever since. She is a professor of theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee and gave the concluding lecture at a Catholic-Lutheran international seminar in Rome in May.

In an interview, Sr. Wood offers insightful answers to questions posed by Dan Stockman of Global Sisters Report. Click here to view her responses to the following questions:

  • How did a Catholic sister end up working with a Lutheran historian on a book about ecumenical efforts between the two churches?
  • What is the book about? Is it about why we should be unified? Why we are not?
  • So distinctions like that can stay in place? Because that’s what a lot of people fear about ecumenism — that their beliefs won’t mean anything anymore.
  • If everyone keeps their identity and beliefs, then what does ecumenism really mean?
  • What’s keeping us apart?
  • Is there hope? Will there ever be unity between the two?
  • You’ve been working on ecumenical issues for a long time. How has it changed you?

Questions for our own reflection:

  • How many Lutherans do I know?
  • What stereotypes do we have of each other?
  • Have I ever engaged in a serious conversation with them about our differences?

Source: Global Sisters Report, Dan Stockman

Further Reading: National Catholic Reporter Article