11/3/2016 2:05:00 PM
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), joined Lutheran and Catholic leaders for a joint ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation on Oct. 31 in Lund, Sweden.
Pope Francis; Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) president; and Martin Junge, LWF general secretary, led the historic service at the Lund Cathedral. About 500 worshipers attended the Common Prayer service.
“With joy we have come to recognize that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” said Younan, in his opening welcome.
According to a LWF press release, Pope Francis told worshipers that “in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation of 1517, we have a new opportunity to accept a common path, one that has taken shape over the past 50 years in the ecumenical dialogue between The Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.”
In his sermon, Junge emphasized that both Lutherans and Catholics have “much more that unites us than that which separates us. We are branches of the same vine. We are one in Baptism. This is why we are here at this joint commemoration: to rediscover who we are in Christ.”
During the service, Pope Francis and Younan signed a joint statement committing Catholics and Lutherans to deepening their communion and common witness for justice.
Later in the day, thousands gathered at Malmo Arena under the theme “Together in Hope.”
According to the LWF, the event included performance artists and testimonies by Lutheran and Catholic advocates for social justice and climate issues from Burundi, Colombia, India, South Sudan and Syria. Pope Francis and Younan offered responses to their testimonies.
During the event, Maria Immonen, LWF World Service director, and Michel Roy, Caritas Internationalis secretary general, signed a declaration of intent mutually committing the global Christian organizations to deepened relationships and closer cooperation in humanitarian response and sustainable development.
The Lutheran-Catholic joint statement is available here.
More information about the events in Sweden is available here.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.