ONCE a year, usually just after the Easter celebrations have drawn the crowds back into the churches to recall the resurrection triumph of our Lord, I respond to an invitation that sits among the many pieces of paper calling for my attention Ð the annual Roman Catholic-Lutheran Clergy Day.
This is the third time, since coming into the Brisbane area that I have had the privilege of participating in the theological discussions that have centred on a variety of previously selected themes.
This year, Pastor Graham Harms, lecturer at Australian Catholic University (ACU), presented his reflections on the formulation of the recent historical document known as the Joint Declaration on Justification. This is a document produced by the Australian Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue Committee and is easily accessible to any interested persons. The international version of this document recently became the cause of great celebration in numerous locations all over the world on October 31, 1999.
In Brisbane the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Church leaders gave their recognition to the importance of this document for the Church of today. This document became the source of our discussion among the priests and pastors gathered together on a rainy autumn day at Marist College, Ashgrove.
The memorable feeling that I was able to take away from this event was the positive collegiality and mutual excitement of the implications of this document for our Churches. The sense of moving onto common ground from which many other doctrinal issues could now receive a new joint appraisal was a significant observation articulated by those in my discussion group. There was a feeling that we had come theologically closer to each other than ever before.
Needless to say, the impact of this realisation was given further expression during a short concluding worship service when Archbishop Bathersby shared his acclaim for District President Vitale, who will be leaving Brisbane this year to take up a new call in Darwin.
To have witnessed the friendship expressed between these two Church leaders has given a graceful touch to the ecumenical ideal that otherwise continues to struggle with definitions, concepts, meanings, and the understanding of words that try to articulate our mutual faith in Christ Jesus.
PASTOR DIRK WILLNER Everton Hills, Qld