Lutheran Church–Canada and Roman Catholics begin talks
NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario – Representatives of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) met together February 1 in an attempt to chart a course for formal talks between LCC and the CCCB. Participants of the Working Group have suggested “Christian marriage” in general and “pastoral preparation and support for Christian marriage” in particular as possible topics to guide ongoing discussions.
First steps toward conversation began through informal connections in the St. Catharines area, and were followed by a brief meeting between representatives of both sides in May 2012 to discuss the possibility of formal discussion. After conferring with its Permanent Council and Commission for Christian Unity, the CCCB has approved a three-year dialogue with LCC. LCC entered into the discussions at the recommendation of its President, Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, and the Commission for Theology and Church Relations.
At the Working Group’s February meeting, the Lutherans were represented by Rev. Nolan Astley (First Vice-President, LCC), Rev. Warren Hamp (Chairman of LCC’s Commission for Theology and Church Relations), Rev. Dr. Thomas Winger (President, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary), and Rev. Dr. John Stephenson (Professor, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary). Representing the Roman Catholics were Bishop Gerard Bergie (Bishop of St. Catharines), Rev. Timothy Scott (General Councilor, The Basilian Fathers), Dr. Michael Attridge (Professor, St. Michael’s College), and Mr. Jonas Abromaitis (Senior Advisor for Ecclesial and Interfaith Relations, CCCB).
In September 2011, the International Lutheran Council (ILC)—of which LCC is a member church—met in Niagara Falls for its world conference. There it adopted a resolution seeking official dialogue with Roman Catholics on the international level, and encouraged member church bodies to seek out such discussions on the national level as well. Bishop Bergie was on hand for the event and brought greetings to the ILC on behalf of the CCCB.