Better Lutheran-Catholic relations

I’m a cradle Lutheran, but I have Roman Catholic roots from my father’s side. While I have recently bridged the divide between these two branches of Christianity, I have been in Lutheran churches that have defined themselves as anything that’s “not Catholic” and Catholic churches that have excluded me from Communion.

But on Monday, Pope Francis and leaders from the Lutheran World Federation worshipped together in an unprecedented service in Sweden. This marked 50 years of conversation between our denominations. On Tuesday, Lutherans began to commemorate 500 years of the Reformation, the initial request for dialogue. This year is about seeing the way God transforms us as Lutherans to converse with the world God has created, including Catholics, other denominations, and other faiths.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest progressive U.S. Lutheran body, welcomes this dialogue. Each week, we say, “I believe in . . . the holy catholic church,” meaning the universal church. After 500 years of pain, finally our churches’ confessions are matched by actions.

Rev. Kevin O’Hara, Patchogue