Catholic and Lutheran Leaders To Sign Joint Declaration
On October 31 in Augsburg, Germany, the Holy See and the Lutheran World Federation will sign the Joint Declaration on Justification by Faith. "This is the culmination of thirty years of dialogue, including important theological contributions in the United States, by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and evaluation of earlier agreements on this theme by the National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Officers," says Brother Jeffrey Gros, Associate Director for the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. It is also an important stage on the long road to full communion of Lutheran and Catholic Churches. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in American will be represented in Augsburg by Presiding Bishop George Anderson, co-chair of the Dialogue until 1996, retired Bishop Harold Skillrud, present co-chair of the Lutheran Catholic Dialogue, Bishop Charles Maahs and others. Fathers Joseph Fitzmyer, SJ, and John Hotchkin will be among the Roman Catholics attending the signing.
Brother Jeffrey Gros can be reached at 202-541-3020.
Halloween Rooted in Religious Celebration
October 31 is Halloween. According to Sister Maureen Shaughnessy, Assistant Secretary for Catechesis and Leadership Formation for the U.S. Bishops' Department of Education, "Halloween gives us the opportunity to help people of all ages reconnect with the Christian understanding of this very popular holiday. Originally this day was celebrated by the Celts in England and Ireland as the end of their year. On that day they remembered all those who had died during the past year." A number of customs that evolved related to this had to do with ghosts and scary things. As Christians we celebrate this day as the eve of All Saints, and in fact, many parishes and Catholic schools use this opportunity to have young people connect to the lives of saints - their own name saints or patronal saints connected to their parishes or ethnic backgrounds. It provides a time for storytelling, dressing up and celebrating.
Sr. Maureen Shaughnessy can be reached at 202-541-3130.
Fido Has a Friend
On October 4 the Church once again celebrates the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, friend of the poor, patron of the environment and reformer of religious life. The prayer given in every Catholic Church on that day will recall how God "helped Saint Francis reflect the image of Christ through a life of poverty and humility." According to Father James Moroney, the U.S. Bishops' Executive Director of Liturgy, "parishes throughout the United States will celebrate the blessing of animals on this day and rededicate themselves to a love for the poor and the oppressed in the model of the poverello of Assisi."
Father James Moroney can be reached at 202-541-3060.