The movement towards healing the 500 years of separation between Lutherans and Roman Catholics takes a step closer in New Zealand next week.
On Sunday 4 June Lutheran Bishop Mark Whitfield and Cardinal John Dew will open a formal dialogue for the two Christian denominations with a combined ecumenical service in Sacred Heart Cathedral to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Year of Reformation. This is a significant milestone for New Zealand Roman Catholic and Lutheran communities, signaling a commitment to ongoing dialogue.
Cardinal John commented “that this year as we mark this anniversary and remember through prayer with our sisters and brothers of the Lutheran Church it is a pleasure to announce on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference that we have initiated a formal dialogue with the Lutherans.
Over several years we have had dialogues with the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Methodists, those bi-lateral dialogues are now extended as we officially start working, praying and discussing with the Lutherans as we continue to work towards Christian Unity.”
Bishop Mark Whitfield’s comments echoed those of the Cardinal.
“I am delighted that we have opportunity in this Reformation Commemoration Year to celebrate our common baptism into Christ and to worship together. I also look forward to Roman Catholics and Lutherans working together to seek avenues of practical pastoral cooperation and support, and to explore joint worship and ecumenical hospitality for the sake of strengthening a joint witness to the Gospel in Aotearoa-New Zealand.”
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference has recently appointed Father Tom Rouse of the St Columban Mission Society to join Father James Lyons, parish priest at Sacred Heart Cathedral on the Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue commission. The Lutheran Church of New Zealand representatives on the Dialogue will be Pastor Jim Pietsch and Dr Petrus Simons.
The service will take place at 3pm on Sunday, 4 June 2017 in the Sacred Heart Cathedral.
For further information please contact:
Amanda Gregan, Communications Advisor
New Zealand National Catholic Bishops Conference Tel. 021 611 052