Theologians and scholars representing the ELCA and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met Dec. 6-8, 2022, to engage in an ecumenical, theological dialogue at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore.

The dialogue was co-chaired by Bishop Patricia Lull of the ELCA Saint Paul Area Synod (Minnesota), and Bishop Denis J. Madden of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The meeting marked the beginning of the 13th round of discussions in the national Catholic-Lutheran dialogue and was dedicated to a “mutual exploration and learning about holy orders/office of ministry as understood in the Catholic and (ELCA) Lutheran traditions.”

During this session, the participants reviewed the previous progress of the dialogue and refined the topic to include special consideration of the following areas:

  • The relationship between the ordained ministry and the priesthood of the baptized
  • The place of “synodality” or collaboration among bishops as part of their role in the discernment of right teaching.
  • The idea in Catholic teaching of the sacramentality of ordination and the distinction between bishops and presbyters, including the role of collegiality in defining an office.
  • The framing of the role of bishops according to the threefold biblical typology of prophet, priest, and king (or shepherd).

Both Lutheran and Catholic participants found the first session to be a positive experience. Bishop Lull said, “I am so encouraged by the generative discussion at our initial meeting and look forward to all that we will learn through the work of these talented dialogue participants.”

Bishop Madden reported, “It is a privilege to be a part of the 13th round of this ELCA/USCCB dialogue with such a talented group of scholars who appreciate in such a profound way why we are meeting and demonstrate the joy of working, praying and living together as one.”

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