Vatican Insider has something today about some Lutherans who are getting nervous about the Holy Father establishing an Ordinariate for Lutherans, along the lines of that which he established for Anglicans.
“A Lutheran ordinariate? That’s a bad sign”
An ordinariate for Lutherans who wish to re-enter into communion with the Vatican, whilst preserving their traditions at least partially? [As a former Lutheran, I am wondering what those would be. Perhaps strong congregational singing of hymns?] The idea of extending the solution offered by Pope Benedict XVI to groups of traditionalist Anglicans [I don't think that is a good description, but... let that pass...] to followers of Martin Luther was suggested for the first time by the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch.
But just as the proposal is being put forward again by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, it is beginning to trigger heated protests and concerns among the Catholic Church’s ecumenical partners –as happened with the Anglican Church. [It's time not to care.]
The creation of an ordinariate – intended for those groups of Anglicans that wish to join the Catholic Church but also maintain their own identity – was “not Rome’s idea; it originates in the Anglican Church,” Koch said last 30 October. “The Holy Father looked for a solution and found a wide-reaching one which took into account the Anglican Church’s ecclesial and liturgical traditions. If the Lutherans made a similar request – he went on to say – we will have to consider their situation carefully. But the initiative remains in the hands of the Lutherans.” [And there are going to be not a few, I think. In the last decades I think there has been a steady shift to a more sacramental approach to worship. Some ministers have sought ordination from the Orthodox. They are reading the Fathers. Get the idea?]
The issue was recently addressed by Mgr. Müller. The German theologian chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recognised that the “Lutheran world is different to the Anglican one because Anglicanism has always had an element that is closer to Catholicism.” But this would not stop the Church from allowing Lutheran groups to convert to Catholicism, preserving “legitimate traditions developed” over the centuries. [see above]
According to Mgr. Müller, there are Lutherans in his homeland, Germany, who hope to enter once again into communion with the Roman Catholic Church and who believe that the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council were an adequate response to Luther’s request for reforms five centuries ago. [The SSPXer's will love that line! But they are marginalizing themselves.] “Protestants – he added – do not oppose Catholicism because they have hung onto many Catholic traditions.”
However, the idea of establishing a Lutheran ordinariate was turned down by the Secretary General of the International Lutheran Federation which has approximately 70 million Christian Lutheran members. [None of which, I believe, are actually governed by this Federation. Am I wrong?] The Rev. Martin Junge said individual believers naturally still have every right to convert, but the establishment of an ordinariate would not only pose “theological problems” [? Oh? Such as a challenge to the Lutheran rejection of the Petrine Ministry? The Mass?] it would also have “serious ecumenical repercussions.” [Good.]
Protestant Churches are preparing to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the 2017 Reform and have invited the Catholic Church to take part in the celebrations. But – Junge said – the creation of an ordinariate “would send out the wrong signal to Lutheran Churches which are preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the Reform in a spirit of understanding and ecumenical cooperation.” [Good.] This is why Müller’s message to the “small number” of Lutherans who wish to convert to Catholicism has triggered “a great deal of concern.” [We'll see how small it is. Isn't that what the Anglicans were saying too? "Oh, Rome might set something up, but only a handful of people will actually join."]
Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.
It is he who determines the parameters of dialogue… not liberals and the squishy, who croon about dialogue… dialogue which becomes endless dialogue.
Another benefit of the Lutheran Ordinariate could be the welcome that Lutherans would give to readers of the National Catholic Reporter who don’t become Anglicans under Romanorum coetibus.