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Pope invites Methodists to join agreementcomment (0)

January 5, 2006

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Methodist leaders Dec. 9 to join a landmark 1999 agreement between Lutherans and the Vatican that overcame centuries of disagreement on the nature of salvation.

In his first official meeting with top-ranking officials of the World Methodist Council (WMC), Benedict urged the council to endorse the Joint Declaration, a 1999 Catholic-Lutheran accord on how humankind achieves salvation.

“Should the World Methodist Council express its intent to associate itself with the Joint Declaration, it would assist in contributing to the healing and reconciliation we ardently desire, and would be a significant step towards the stated goal of full visible unity in faith,” Benedict told the delegation led by WMC Chairman Bishop Sunday Mbang of Nigeria.

Martin Luther sparked the 16th century Protestant Reformation by challenging the Catholic doctrine of “justification,” which holds that good works are essential to attaining salvation.

Lutherans held that salvation was God-given and achieved by faith alone.

In the 1999 compromise, both sides agreed that salvation is achieved through God’s grace, which is then reflected in good works.

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