May They Be One! Will 2013 Be the Year of a Lutheran Ordinariate?
The teaching of the Catholic Church is rooted in an ecclesiology of communion.
The heart of the Gospel message is that in and through Jesus Christ, authentic unity with God - and through Him, in the Spirit, with one another- is not only possible but is the plan of God for the entire human race. The Church is the way. It was not the Lord's plan that she be divided. It is His Plan that she be restored to full communion.
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller and a Lutheran Bishop
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On January 21, 2013, the Alessandro Speciale, writing for La Stampa's Vatican Insider, wrote an article which caused quite a stir. It concerned comments made by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith. Those comments seem favorable to the possibility of the establishment of an Ordinariate structure for groups of Lutherans, should they seek to come into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
The article caused a negative reaction in some institutional Lutheran circles. It also set the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) abuzz. This double reaction was not unlike the reaction which occurred back when the idea began to be floated that groups of Anglicans might indeed seek full communion - and before the issuance of Pope Benedicts Historic apostolic constitution making it a reality. Remember the uproar from some Anglican Leaders? Remember the outcry from the SSPX?
Yet, consider the historic and miraculous turn of events which we have lived though as the Holy Spirit moved to bring healing to the divisions in the Christian community. The Pope of Christian Unity, Benedict XVI, issued an apostolic constitution setting forth the vehicle for the establishment of Ordinariates for groups of former Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining certain aspects of their patrimony.
Back in 2009 I reported on the tragic situation which had befallen the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as its leadership has allowed that community to veer into heresy and abandon orthodox Christian doctrine concerning marriage and sexual morality based on a vote. I did so because I believe that as a Catholic I should be concerned about other Christians who are struggling within the communities which descended from the Protestant Reformation which are abandoning orthodox Christian doctrine. Though the article was generally well received, there were some disapproving comments.
They ranged from a reader who wondered why such an article was "even published on a Catholic Web Site", to others which used the term "schismatic" in reference to all Protestant Christians. Some objected to my use of the term, "orthodox' to distinguish those Lutherans who adhered to what C.S. Lewis would have called "Mere Christianity" by accepting the fundamentals of the Christian faith and those who have succumbed to heresy.
Something similar happened when I reported on the assault on the basics of Christian doctrine within the Anglican/ Episcopal communities when the notion that a path to full communion for whole groups was only "in the wings" and being decried by many and belittled by others.Well, look at what the Holy Spirit has done, working through a courageous Pope with a heart that beats with the Heart of jesus for the healing of the Body of Christ.
Lutheran Pastors, as individuals, have been making the move home to the Catholic Church for years.Some have sort ordination to the Catholic priesthood. In July of 2010 I reported that Peter Kemmether, a married then 62 year old father of four children was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. Fr. Peter was granted a dispensation from the canonical discipline of celibacy attached to priestly ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. He had been a Protestant Pastor who came into the full communion of the Catholic Church as the fruit of a sincere search for the fullness of the Christian faith.
The German Bishop who ordained him was Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller. So, I was not surprised to read the article concerning now Archbishop Müller's comments on the possibility that the Holy See might consider such an ordinariate - if groups of Lutherans made such a request. He, and the Pope he serves so well, both hail from Germany. They are well aware of the situation facing Lutheran Christians in that nation. They have been exposed to a very "high church" form of Lutheran liturgical expression.
The American Lutheran communities are generally more "low church", but not always. I recently received a copy of a letter recently sent from a group of Lutherans in the United States which was written on December 12, 2012 and addressed to Cardinal Kurt Koch of the Pontifical Council Promoting Unity seeking just such a possible path to full communion for a group of Lutherans. I have reason to believe there are others, both here and abroad, and they will multiply.
In December of 2012, Zenit News published a wide ...
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