Representatives of five Christian denominations have met to discuss the ongoing implications of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). The JDDJ was signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 1999 and was said to have resolved the major doctrinal dispute that sparked the Reformation five centuries earlier. The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion at the time, Canon John L Peterson, described it as “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.” In the years that followed, the World Methodist Council, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Anglican Consultative Council have all formally adopted or otherwise associated themselves Declaration.
The signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Augsburg in 1999 was a milestone in Catholic-Lutheran dialogue and was built on 30 years of continuous ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches.
The substance of the Declaration was “affirmed and welcomed” by the Anglican Consultative Council at their meeting in Lusaka in April 2016. In October last year, on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby presented a signed copy of the ACC’s resolution to the to the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, Dr Martin Junge, and the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Bishop Brian Farrell during a service in Westminster Abbey attended by the General Secretaries of the World Methodist Council and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
In their meeting this week in Rome to discuss the implications of the widespread support for the Declaration, representatives of the five churches agreed to hold a consultation in March next year, to include a public lecture or panel discussion about ecumenical relations.
“We have now five signatories of this ecumenical declaration,” LWF’s Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations, Kaisamari Hintikka, said. “We feel we are called to ask together what kind of spiritual and ecclesiastical consequences the JDDJ might have for our churches.
“We are witnessing momentum in our shared ecumenical journey. This consultation is meant to appreciate and to use that gift, which calls us to healing the wounds in the body of Christ. This consultation will be the beginning of a process that aims to respond to the aspirations of the people in the pews. We want to offer our churches recommendations in order to grow in communion.”
The Anglican Communion’s Director for Unity, Faith and Order, Canon Dr John Gibaut, was at the Rome meeting. He told ACNS: “If the JDDJ is the key that help us unlock the core doctrinal issue from the Reformation, and the Anglican Communion, the World Methodist Council, along with the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church now laid claim together to this common key, the possibilities of opening new doors of ecumenical growth and cooperation are vast.”