Marking the Reformation in 2017

There's an interesting piece in the latest issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies in which Paul Schreck of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America suggests a joint declaration by the Catholic and Lutheran Churches to mark the Reformation in 2017 on the Confessio Augustana (CA, or Augsburg Confession), the primary confessional document of Lutheran churches.* The Augsburg Confession was written in both German and Latin, and was presented by a number of German rulers and free-cities at the Diet of Augsburg on June 25, 1530. As Schreck points out, there was increasing Catholic interest in the 1970s in a Catholic recognition of the statements of faith in the CA. Schreck notes that in 1958, Joseph Ratzinger had already highlighted the importance of the CA, an idea developed further in Ratzinger's Graz lecture of 1967, and in his Principles of Catholic Theology:
Research in recent years has led to the conclusion that it was not just for diplomatic reasons that the Confessio Augustana [henceforth CA] was composed as the fundamental
Lutheran confessional text; it was intended to be interpreted under the law of the empire as a Catholic confession; it was understood with inner conviction as a search for evangelical Catholicity--an effort to filter the seething discontent of the early reform movement in a way that would make it a Catholic reform. Efforts are being made, accordingly, to bring about a Catholic recognition of the CA--or more accurately, a recognition of the CA as Catholic--that would establish the Catholicity of the churches of the Augsburg Confession and thus make possible a corporate union despite existing differences. Certainly such a recognition of the CA by the Catholic Church would be far more than a theoretical theological action that could be worked out by historians and church politicians. It would be, rather, a concrete historical step on both sides.
The idea was picked up also by Walter Kasper, who is now president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Unity, who suggested that Catholic recognition of the CA would not mean that it would become a Catholic confessional document, but that it would be seen as one legitimate expression of the Catholic faith.
Schreck's research leads him to the conclusion that at some point a joint Lutheran-Catholic attempt to attest to the Catholic nature of the CA was simply set aside. However, he suggests that with the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, there is now the basis for the issue of the CA to be picked up again. Moreover, he suggests, such a step would have significance beyond the LWF:
The ecumenical importance of such a recognition of the CA would not belimited to Lutherans. John Calvin accepted a revised version of the CAin 1541; in 1684 the Peace of Westphalia recognized Calvinists as members of the Augustan community. Thomas Cranmer based many of his forty-two articles upon the CA, so recognition of the CA would presumably have some bearing on the Thirty-nine articles of the Church of England."
* Paul A Schreck, "Under One Christ: Implications of a Roman Catholic Recognition of the Confessio Augustana in CE 1017", Journal of Ecumenical Studies, vol. 43, no. 1, Winter 2008, pp. 90-110.

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