Notice which Lutherans the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are talking to ecumenically — the ones in fellowship with the Lesbyterians — namely the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. But the hangup to full communion is not the doctrine of justification by faith alone but — what Allen Iverson was not talking about — practice. That is, the practice of male ordination:
Asked at the news conference what was the most difficult issue that continued to divide Lutherans and Catholics, Bishop Madden cited women’s ordination as “one of those issues that we are still discussing.”
The Lutherans have been ordaining women since 1970; the Catholic Church teaches it has no authority “to confer priestly ordination on women.”
Bishop Eaton said Lutherans still had difficulty with the Catholic understanding of “the role of the bishop of Rome” and the issue of papal infallibility.
“We are really sorry for some of the things (Martin) Luther said about (the pope) back in the day,” she said, adding that there have been “terrible misunderstandings and, on our part, unfortunate caricatures” surrounding the issue.
“But we really like this one (Pope Francis) a lot,” Bishop Eaton said.
Kathryn Johnson, ELCA director for ecumenical and interreligious relations, said the declaration marked the beginning of “a totally different world of relationship and hopefulness” between Catholics and Lutherans.
The Rev. John Crossin, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said he had been approached by an Anglican colleague about doing a similar document that looks at remaining issues dividing the two communions.
The declaration “is already starting to have a little ripple effect,” he said.
But if you could find pastors who had switched genders, would that satisfy both liberal Lutherans and American Roman Catholics?
Hard to say, but the affinities between Roman Catholics and Protestant modernists keep being hard to miss.