His Eminence Edward Cardinal Cassidy
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
00120 Vatican City
The Revd Dr Ishmael Noko
The Lutheran World Federation
PO Box 21 00
1211 Geneva 2
Dear Cardinal Cassidy and Dr Noko,
The signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine Of Justificationbetween the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church is an event which encourages Christians of all traditions and is a cause of rejoicing for all who pray and work for the unity of Christ's Church.
The significance of this agreement cannot be underestimated, dealing as it does with a question right at the heart of Christian faith and theology, the question of how we are saved. As we all are aware, this was a primary point of conflict during the Reformation period, which led not only to bitter theological disputes but even wars and Persecutions and created divisions that were exported beyond the shores of Europe through the missionary expansion of the Church.
Anglicans, although not so closely involved in the dispute on Continental Europe between the Reformers and Roman Catholics, nevertheless have addressed the doctrine of Justification and related issues both within our own Communion and in our ecumenical dialogues with Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) in its 1987 statement Salvation and the Church stated that our two Communions "are agreed on the essential aspects of the doctrine of salvation and on the Church's role within it." The Niagara Report of the Anglican-Lutheran International Continuation Committee, also dating from 1987, cites among the truths shared by Anglicans and Lutherans "a common understanding of God's justifying grace."
Along with our Roman Catholic and Lutheran brothers and sisters, Anglicans give thanks to God for this notable step forward. We pray that this great event of the signing of the Joint Declaration may be a gift to the whole Church of God. We pray also that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen all efforts to overcome the polemical divisions of the past which impede the Church's witness to a reconciling God who draws all humanity into union with himself.
The Reverend Canon John L Peterson
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion