Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue


PCPCU Dialogue with the Lutheran World Federation

US Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), A Communion of Churches. Department for Theology and Public Witness. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue

Dialogue partner | Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Dialogue body | Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity.

Contact: Rev. Dr Kaisamari Hintikka, Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs; Director of the Department for Theology and Public Witness


Contacts established between the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council led to the formation of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Working Group, which met in 1965 and 1966. The working group agreed that it was important to enter into comprehensive dialogue about the basic issues that separate and unite the two churches.

Following the official endorsement of the working group’s recommendation by the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church, the Joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic Study Commission met for the first time in 1967.

Key Themes

  • Gospel
  • Church
  • Eucharist
  • Ministry
  • Justification
  • Apostolicity of the Church
  • Baptism

On the Horizon

2014 | The Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity will enter into discussion on baptism based on papers presented in its meeting in 2010. This topic is also relevant in regard to the trilateral Lutheran-Catholic-Mennonite dialogue.

2014 | Joint liturgical working group of the LWF and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) | PCPCU plans to present its proposals regarding joint liturgical materials for commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, for use both at the local and at the global levels, by the end of 2014.

International Dialogue Milestones

Published reports of the international Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue

Phase I (1967-1972)

1972 | The Gospel and the Church (Malta report)

Phase II (1973-1984)

1978 | The Eucharist

1980 | All Under One Christ

1980 | Ways to Community

1981 | The Ministry in the Church

1983 | Martin Luther – Witness to Christ

1984 | Facing Unity – Models, Forms and Phases of Catholic-Lutheran Church Fellowship

Phase III (1986-1993)

1993 | Church and Justification

Phase IV (1995-2006)

1999 | The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

2006 | The Apostolicity of the Church

Regional Agreements

Significant regional relations between Lutherans and Roman Catholics exist in different parts of the world.

Germany | Dialogue between the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the German Bishops’ Conference of the Roman Catholic Church has focused on a number of central theological themes. A major study was undertaken on the doctrinal condemnations of the Reformation era regarding justification, ministry and the sacraments, and whether they still apply.

United States of America | Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue here has focused on theological areas central to the common faith – justification by faith -, the status of Mary, the saints, and the Petrine ministry. The dialogue also has discussed the question of baptism.

Both of these regional dialogues have contributed substantially to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.