First Dialogue between Europe‘s Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church

The opening consultation between the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was held on the weekend in Vienna. On its conclusion, the host, CPCE General Secretary Bishop Dr. Michael Bünker, underlined the extraordinarily good atmosphere of the talks and the positive prospects for future consultations.

“It was a frank conversation about our respective understanding of the Church, and it turned out that there are a number of areas of agreement. Sometime we mean the same thing but phrase it differently. We are grateful for this first round and looking forward to seeing how things continue,” Bünker noted.

Seven theologians on either side, headed by Bishop Prof. Dr. Friedrich Weber (Brunswick) and Bishop Dr. Karl-Heinz Wiesemann (Speyer) deliberated on fundamental texts and set the date for the next consultation to continue the work. It will be held on 16 and 17 December 2013 in Speyer, Germany.

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Joint Communiqué

8 and 9 February 2013 saw the opening, in Albert Schweitzer House (Vienna), of a series of conversations between the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The consultations constitute the first formal dialogue between Europe‘s Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church. They intend to deal with questions concerning ecclesiology and ecumenical objectives, and will be spread over several years. Under the leadership of Bishop Prof. Dr. Friedrich Weber (Brunswick) and Bishop Dr. Karl-Heinz Wiesemann (Speyer) the group consisted of seven theologians on each side.

Further delegates from the Pontifical Council were the Bishop of Raphoe (Ireland), Philip Boyce OCD, Prof. Dr. Michel Deneken (Strasbourg), Prof. Dr. Josef Freitag (Erfurt), Prof. Dr. Angelo Maffeis (Brescia), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Thönissen (Paderborn) and Prof. Dr. Myriam Wijlens (Erfurt) with Monsignore Dr. Matthias Türk (Vatican City) serving as executive secretary.

The CPCE delegation consisted of Dr. John Bradbury (Cambridge), Prof. Dr. Stephanie Dietrich (Oslo), Prof. Dr. Fulvio Ferrario (Rome), Prof. Dr. Friederike Nüssel (Heidelberg), Prof. Dr. Miriam Rose (Jena) and Prof. Dr. Stefan Tobler (Sibiu/Hermannstadt), with Prof. Dr. Martin Friedrich (Vienna) as executive secretary.

The consultation, which took place in a very friendly atmosphere, began by perusing two fundamental texts, the CPCE study “The Church of Jesus Christ“, which comprises the results of a doctrinal conversation ending in1994, and Walter Cardinal Kasper’s evaluation of 40 years of ecumenical dialogue “Harvesting the Fruits” of 2009. The delegates noted a number of areas of agreement and possible convergence, which will be taken further. The next consultation will take place on 16 and 17 December 2013 in Speyer.

Vienna, 12th February 2013.

At present 107 Protestant churches in Europe (including five South-American churches originating from Europe ) belong to the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). Lutheran, Reformed, United and Methodist along with pre-Reformation churches such as Hussites and Czech Brethren grant each other pulpit and table fellowship on the basis of the Leuenberg Agreement of 1973. The Secretariat is housed in the Severin-Schreiber-Gasse 3, A-1180 Vienna, office@leuenberg.eu, tel. +43.1.4791523.900, fax .110 The CPCE press officer is Mag. Ingrid Monjencs (Vienna), tel. +43.699.18878052, i.monjencs@leuenberg.eu.

12.02.2013 Ingrid Monjencs

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