March 14, 2017
Interim Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Denver
Archbishop Aquila to pray with Rocky Mountain Lutheran Synod
Event marks 500 years since Reformation, 50 years of intensified dialogue
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver will join Lutheran Bishop Jim Gonia of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in a service of Common Prayer to mark 500 years since the beginning of the Reformation.
The prayer service will take place Sunday, March 19, at 3 p.m., at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E. Hampden Ave, Cherry Hills Village.
The liturgy will highlight the agreements that have been reached through 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans on topics such as the Church, ministry, and the Eucharist.
The Common Prayer is structured around the themes of thanksgiving, repentance, and commitment to common witness. The aim is to express a common heritage of Christian belief, and to ask forgiveness for the division perpetuated by Christians from the two traditions.
In a column written for the Denver Catholic, Archbishop Aquila called the event “an occasion for us to recognize that despite our differences, we are fellow pilgrims who are seeking the face of God.”
“This service of Common Prayer provides the opportunity for us to look back in humility at our divisions and thanksgiving for when we have overcome them. We look ahead with gratitude for our deepening unity in Christ, committing ourselves to our common witness,” said Bishop Gonia.
The Rocky Mountain Synod is holding similar events with six other Catholic dioceses that overlap with the territory of the Rocky Mountain Synod, including an event May 21 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Pueblo. Other events are scheduled in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah.
The Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity invited Lutherans and Catholics across the world to make use of a jointly-developed Common Prayer to commemorate the 500 years of the Reformation.
Last October, the two entities hosted a joint Ecumenical Commemoration event in Lund, Sweden, which was attended by Pope Francis. The Common Prayer to take place in Denver will follow a similar format.
In 2015, the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, published a document titled “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist.” The document outlines 32 points of agreement between the two churches, which had been reached through ongoing theological dialogue over the past 50 years.
“Among the key areas of agreement are an acknowledgement of the apostolic nature of the Church, recognition of the divine origin of the ordained ministry and its necessity for the Church, and a shared understanding of the Eucharistic presence,” wrote Archbishop Aquila.
“It is my hope that as this dialogue continues, Catholics and Lutherans are able to set aside our suspicions and seek the face of God together,” he said. “I also ask you to join me in praying for the full unity of all Christians and to seek out opportunities to carry out works of mercy together, building up the body of Christ.”