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Common ground

Lutherans and Roman Catholics share interfaith conversation

December 8, 2012
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Two religious leaders from the Catholic and Lutheran faiths Thursday discussed the latest document generated from a series of talks taking place between the two faiths.

The Rev. Lowell G. Almen, former secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Bishop Richard J. Sklba, an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, were chairs of the latest discussion - the 11th to take place since 1965 - which centered on eternal life.

Titled "The Hope of Eternal Life," the report examines the beliefs of both Lutheran and Catholic faiths on the issue of the afterlife and represents a comment statement from both churches.

Article Photos

The Rev. Lowell G. Almen, former secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, speaks to a group gathered in Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette Thursday morning. Almen and Catholic Bishop Richard J. Sklba, discussed the “Hope of Eternal Life” as each of their faiths see it. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)

Sklba said the conversations taking place between Lutherans and Catholics are not only helpful in identifying commonalities between the two faiths, but also in helping people of the Catholic faith understand their own religion better.

"We should have a clear sense of what we, ourselves, believe," Sklba said. "So often, Catholics don't have a clear sense about what they really believe themselves, so this clarifies our own convictions, our own beliefs, but it also, in a world that is so terribly divided, polarized, is an opportunity for us to come closer and become better partners in the work of praising God and transforming the world, healing the world in which we live."

Almen said there were two main reasons to continue these types of discussions between different factions of the Christian faith.

"One is the importance in an increasingly secular world to give strong witness to the core of the Christian faith," Almen said. "The second is to be aware that Christ had prayed, as reflected in John 17, that his followers would be one, so I'm taking seriously the prayer of our Lord for unity. I believe our task now is to find ways to reflect more deeply and profoundly that unity that we are given through our baptism into Christ."

These types of dialogues are not just done between Lutherans and Catholics, however. Both men said similar conversations were taking place between their own faiths and other Christian and non-Christian faiths.

The two religious leaders each gave a presentation on the latest talks between their churches Thursday morning.

The afternoon was spent with short presentations and a panel discussion on how to move forward in light of the new document.

A prayer service and reception was then held at Messiah Lutheran Thursday evening.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal. net.



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