January 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 6
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


Threaten Boycott of Christian Unity Week and Opening of Holy Door at St. Paul's

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 9 (ZENIT).- On January 18, first day of Christian Unity Week for , Pope John Paul II will open the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in an ecumenical ceremony. Now some Protestants in Germany are expressing concern about participating in a ceremony related to indulgences.

    Indulgences were the point of departure for the Protestant Reformation. According to modern Protestants, the doctrine of indulgences is in contradiction to justification through grace alone and through faith alone. Some say that the use of indulgences is contrary to the Common Statement on Justification signed by Lutherans and Catholics on October 31, 1999.

    However, the Annex to that document made it clear that "Justification takes place 'by grace alone' (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified 'apart from works' (Rom 3:28, cf. JD 25). 'Grace creates faith not only when faith begins in a person but as long as faith lasts' (Thomas Aquinas, S. Th. II/II 4, 4 ad 3). The working of God's grace does not exclude human action: God effects everything, the willing and the achievement, therefore, we are called to strive (cf. Phil 2:12 ff)." That is, human actions can have a saving effect, by the grace of God. The indulgence is an excercize of the Church's authority to bind and loose, granted by Christ first to Peter, and later to all the Apostles.

    The President of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Christian Krause, is currently being pressured by his church not to attend the event. Nonetheless, according to reports in "Die Welt," Krause plans to attend. Anglican Archbishop George Carey and other Protestant leaders have also accepted the Vatican invitation.

    Udo Hahn, spokesman for the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, notes that the problem of indulgences is more keenly felt among Germans than other nationalities. However, he points out that technically, only a Catholic service would be "indulgence capable," so that a Lutheran could attend the ecumenical service without fear of diluting his beliefs. He told "Die Welt," "Bishop Krause will go, despite all speculations."

    Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke of Hamburg, Head of Holy Year plans for the German Catholic Bishops' Conference, is working to avoid a reopening of the conflict over indulgences. He assures that those who carefully read the Bull that opened the Holy Year will see that there is no conflict between a correctly understood teaching on indulgences and the teaching on justification. ZE00010922


January 10, 2000
volume 10, no. 6

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