Lutheran Ordinariate?

Could there be an Ordinariate for former Lutherans in a way similar to those for former Anglicans?

It is hard for me to see how. Perhaps it could be possible.

From CWN:

The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said in an interview that the Vatican would entertain a hypothetical proposal by Lutherans to establish ecclesial structures modeled on the ordinariates developed for Anglican communities that wish to enter into full communion with the Holy See.

Anglicanorum coetibus was not an initiative of Rome, but came from the Anglican church,” said Cardinal Kurt Koch, referring to the 2009 papal document that established the ordinariates. “The Holy Father then sought a solution and, in my opinion, found a very broad solution, in which the Anglicans’ ecclesial and liturgical traditions were taken into ample consideration. If similar desires are expressed by the Lutherans, then we will have to reflect on them. However, the initiative is up to the Lutherans.

Cardinal Koch also said that both “‘progressives and traditionalists suffer from the same ailment”: a refusal to interpret the Second Vatican Council with a hermeneutic of “renewal in continuity.

Both see the Council equally as a break, even if in a very different way,” he said. “The Holy Father has questioned this understanding of the conciliar hermeneutics of the break and proposed the hermeneutics of reform, which unites continuity and renewal.”

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

Fuller article with Card. Koch’s comments HERE.

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  1. pberginjr says:

    Having had 2 close Lutheran friends (one WELS, the other ELCA) who both have pastors in their families and really take their faith seriously, I don’t see such an outcome as very likely, but all in God’s time, right? It seemed to me that the more conservative WELS would be more likely to be amenable, but my friend indicated that being more conservative, they were less likely to bend in their views. The more liberal ELCA (which itself will split in the next decade according to my observations and those of my other friend), being as far removed from Catholic orthodoxy as CINOs and self-styled progressive-/liberal-Catholics seem to me just as unlikely to seek such a provision. I don’t know what Lutheranism looks like outside of the American Midwest though.

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Having been raised Lutheran but converting to Catholicism late in life, it occurs to me that the current church with the Novus Ordo and Joint Statement on Justification isn’t a far leap for many Lutherans. So the Novus Ordo (with Bach rather than Haugen) could be the ordinary form for that ordinariate and the Vetus Ordo could be restored as the ordinary form for the rest of the Roman rite.

  3. wmeyer says:

    My aunt is a lifelong Lutheran, daughter of a Lutheran minister. She resigned a couple of years ago from the ELCA, in response to their vote for gay clergy. She has not (yet) decided to convert. It is only because of her situation that I read the Joint Statement on Justification. In charity, I will refrain from saying what I thought of it. I will simply say Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. Happily, I am no theologian.

  4. anilwang says:

    Actually, Lutherans have already entered the Catholic Church via the Ordinariate since it was never meant just for Anglicans. See the following links:

  5. contrarian says:

    Interesting. It seems to me that those Lutherans who are, doctrinally, closest to the Faith, are the very Lutherans who wouldn’t join up with Catholics if their lives depended on it.

    In my own (conservative) Lutheran childhood (I converted in my late twenties), I was taught 1) that the Council of Trent contains many doctrinal errors (the insistence on an Aristotelian understanding of the Real Presence, indulgences, purgatory, the cult of the saints, etc.), and that 2) the Catholic Church jumped the shark after Vatican II, and no longer adhered to anything remotely orthodox anymore.

    Yeah, a bit extreme, my Lutheran teachers. Though I do find it strange that my old Lutheran friends and teachers would have seen my current Catholic church and said, “No communion rails? No crucifix? You receive the host in your HAND? Why are lay people doing half of the service? Alter GIRLS? How come there’s no talk of sin, death, and hell? And what’s with the idiotic music? Um, I rest my case.”

    If we Catholics, however, want to say that all of these things are abuses and that the current church is in total continuity with the Council of Trent, then these same Lutherans will point out heretical teachings of that council and say, “No thanks.”

    Me thinks that the only way to get Lutherans on board is to get them to see the continuity with Trent (gulp), and the have them wholesale *convert*. I don’t think the Book of Concord and the Council of Trent can be reconciled, except with same major fudge work.

  6. contrarian says:

    I should add: I was also taught by my Lutheran teachers that Vatican II was proof that the Catholic Church was *never* the true church.

    Heh. :)

  7. catholicgauze says:


    The Wikipedia article needs updating. I contacted the ALCC awhile ago. They said that they were told the current offer was for Anglican groups only. So the ALCC dropped their plan to rejoin Rome and instead made an intercommunion agreement with the Old Roman Catholic Church of North America (a traditionalist Old Catholic group)

  8. Michael_Thoma says:

    I hope this isn’t in response to that phoney baloney group known as the “Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church” with it’s now retired “primate”. They are as shady as it comes, and only structurally on paper, with lots of clergy with fancy names, titles, and vestments and very few members. Google the retired Lt. Col., DDS, turned bishop who does quickie weddings with his wife ‘concelebrating’ for kicks!

  9. RomanticTradition says:

    I can understand Anglicans getting an Ordinariate to preserve their “rich Anglican patrimony” which is very much many times in line with Traditional Roman Liturgical Practice and along with the fact that some Anglicans believe in Transubstantiation… but that wouldn’t work well with Lutherans would it, remembering of course the Roman Rite nowadays is so similar to what they have? What would we preserve from them? The “rich tradition of communion in the hand and Mass facing the people in order to systematically deny the real presence?” I’m glad the Church is leaving it up to the Lutherans to decide and figure it out for themselves, I grow weary of the empty gestures of Ecumenical pleasantries that amount to a whole lot of politically correctness and less soul saving….

  10. Choirmaster says:

    Let’s not be hasty to dismiss! Those Lutherans may indeed have something to be preserved.

    I’ve only been in a Lutheran church twice, and only once during a religious service. Both churches had ad orientem arranged altars, with no chance of “walking around [them] and celebrating towards the people.” Moreover, at the religious service, the minister took great pains to turn ad deum for collects and prayers addressed to God, and ad populum when addressing or engaging in dialog with the people.

    A small dose of that could go a long way here at home in the Catholic Church.

  11. contrarian says:

    You make some good points, and I’m in agreement with a lot of what you say. But keep in mind that, e.g., communion on the hand, Mass “facing the people”, and the denial of the Real Presence, are all heretical innovations from an orthodox Lutheran perspective, and indeed any orthodox Lutheran must reject these things if the Book of Concord and the early councils of the Church (all councils prior to…I forget exactly!) hold any weight.
    I’ve done a lot of reading on VII innovations (and the problems therein), and many authors invariably mention how the current Mass is in line with ‘Luther’s’ ideas. This is sometimes true, but sometimes not. As a former Lutheran, I’m appalled (from a Lutheran perspective!) at what goes on at my current Catholic Mass. I love the Church and know She teaches Total Truth, but on a local level (e.g., my parish), I’m dealing with much more doctrinal heresy than I was while Lutheran. And none of this even touches upon the awful music and iconoclasm that are unique to my current Catholic (as opposed to my former Lutheran) situation.
    Odd, things are, no?
    So: as to our whipping boy:
    Zwingli, maybe?
    Luther? Sometimes, but I think to be fair to history, he shouldn’t be our primary whipping boy.

    The point is: Lutherans who are serious about being Lutheran will adamantly reject any Catholic alliance, since 1) VII is silly, and 2) the Council of Trent is heretical. So says the serious Lutheran.

    No, a Lutheran Ordinate would be a sham, me thinks.

  12. anilwang says:


    I’m not sure what you’ve heard about the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, but I think Rome would be able to detect a sham if it is as plain as you claim it is. I googled “Lt. Col., DDS” and came up with nothing, nor have I found any indication from a google search on the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church being suspect. Please refrain from rash judgments based on hearsay ( ).

    BTW, the Anglican Ordinariate will not bring in floods of members immediately. Anglicans currently have a high priest to lay ratio. I’ve been to a few Anglican Ordinariates in Canada and all have fewer people than I find at the place I go to for daily mass. It’s my understanding that most Anglican parishes tend to be small with a more intimate contact with the priest than you would normally find in many Catholic mega parishes. On top of this, may Anglicans who do apply do not automatically get a free pass on their seminary training or marriage history which is one reason why an Canadian Ordinariate never formed and the current Canadian Anglican Use churches (at least I believe) are under the US Ordinariate.

    The screening process for the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church will be no less strict.

    However, the mustard seed have been sown, and I believe in time all the Ordinariates (Anglican, Anglo-Lutheran, Lutheran?) will bare much fruit.

  13. Joseph-Mary says:

    In my pro-life work, I have encountered several branches of Lutherans. Some are openly pro-abortion. They will not be turning to the Catholic Church. Others such as WELS will not pray with anyone outside their ‘confession’. I do not see many clamoring to be Catholics for sure.

  14. Michael_Thoma says:


    I am not judging without knowledge of the subject at hand. I’ve conversed with the so-called retired “Archbishop” Gladfelter, now retired Catholic layman. They have more clergy than laity and many closet Cathedrals. On the now “archbishop” is wearing the partial vestments of the Syro-Malankara Catholic priest with a miter! Dress up and a webpage don’t make a legitimate church!

  15. Fr AJ says:

    I was quite surprised to read this statement by Card. Koch a few days ago. My experience with them has been they tend to be either very liberal on social issues and wouldn’t be interested in the Church or very conservative on Lutheran doctrine and look at the Church as heretical. There’s always hope though.

    I’m still waiting for the Polish National Catholic Church to come back in to the fold.

  16. anilwang says:


    If you go by badmouthing disgruntled former heads, I can point to similar public cases in the Traditional Anglican Communion (which first applied for the Anglican Ordinariate). That doesn’t change the validity of the Anglican Ordinariate.

    All am I saying is that if they are a sham, they will be found out since holy orders are serious business and the screening the Anglicans are getting will not be any different than the screening the ALCC will get.

    I’m not worried. After all, more than a few married Baptist ministers have applied to the priesthood have have been accepted (after suitable training). In case you’re not aware, Baptists are as non-sacramental as they get. So if a group of of people with Lutheran sympathies want to become priests, why should we hinder them as long as they are properly ordained and receive the appropriate training?

  17. acardnal says:

    anilwang said, “Actually, Lutherans have already entered the Catholic Church via the Ordinariate since it was never meant just for Anglicans.”

    I am not convinced that Lutherans and Lutheran parishes can be assumed into the Catholic Church via Anglicanorum coetibus as Anglicans can. After all, it is entitled the “Anglicanorum” coetubus after all.

  18. anilwang says:


    There was a discussion on a while back on precisely this issue:

    But the proposal did say it was covered and that’s what was published in several Catholic news blocks and the letter from Cardinal Wuerl states that the Ordinariate is primarily but not exclusively for Anglicans. Now as Michael_Thoma states, it may all be a sham and the letter might be a Pope Michael type hoax which fooled the Catholic and Anglican press. Or it could be that Cardinal Wuerl jumped the gun and tried to apply Anglicanorum Coetibus were it should not have been and that effort was halted.

    But looking at the text of Anglicanorum Coetibus I don’t see anything specific to it that would not also apply to any sacramental liturgical church that has some patrimony worth preserving and has not deviated too far from Catholic teaching. If the 10 “Anglican” references in the document were changed to “Lutheran”.

    Anyway, I’ve written too much in this thread so I’ll shut up.

  19. acardnal says:

    anilwang, I just now came across this in today’s news:

  20. eulogos says:

    I was reading a post on a blog by a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister, who was reading the first of Pope Benedict’s books on Jesus, and finding that he liked it very much. A WELS Lutheran minister commented, ‘Why would you read a book written by the AntiChrist?’ So it would involve a pretty radical conversion for a WELS type Lutheran to come over.
    Susan Peterson

  21. Dave N. says:

    The conundrum here is that the most conservative Lutheran groups (e.g., LCMS, WELS) also tend to be the most anti-Catholic, most dubious of papal authority and most tied to the historic Lutheran confessions. The more moderate groups (e.g., NALC/LCMC/CORE—the various ELCA spinoffs) would probably be somewhat amenable to an ordinariate in theory but I don’t think would ever backtrack on women’s ordination and also tend to be more “praise-bandy” and evangelical in terms of “liturgy.” The more liberal ELCA will most certainly not backtrack on women’s ordination or ordination of people in openly gay relationships now that many of the conservatives have exited the denomination. But many in the ELCA would be more open to Catholicism in terms of familiarity with the NO after the work of the Consultation on Common Texts.

    It doesn’t seem to me that there is really a “sweat spot” of people who could logically be brought into the Catholic Church such as exists in Anglicanism.

    As far as I know, the ALCC is a sham. Some in the Catholic blogosphere were prematurely celebrating their admission into the Anglican Ordinariate awhile back–which doesn’t even make sense.

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  23. bookworm says:

    It seems to me that the Lutherans most likely to take advantage of this provision if it came to pass (at least in the United States) would be Missouri Synod Lutherans, who have a liturgy that could easily be mistaken for a Novus Ordo Mass; have all male clergy; are generally theologically conservative and pro-life in orientation, but not, from what I can see, real far into the “pope is the Antichrist” fundamentalist camp; and have an infrastructure of churches, parochial schools and other institutions that could easily be repurposed for Catholic use. The LCMS was started by German immigrants to the St. Louis area and other parts of the Midwest, during the great 19th century wave of immigration that also brought a lot of Catholics with it, and you can tell that a lot of the Old World Catholic culture stuck with them.

  24. contrarian says:

    Dave N,
    Exactly. Liberal Lutherans aren’t going to budge on the pelvic stuff and women’s issues (liberal Lutheranism has jumped the shark, though…it’s Lutheran only in name), and mainline ‘conservative’ denoms like the LCMS and WELS reject Catholic doctrine on issues that are fundamental to Catholicism (or at least *were* fundamental to Catholicism).
    One of the ‘founding documents’ of Lutheranism is Martin Chemnitz’ tour de force, two-volume smack down of the Council of Trent.
    If we Catholics allow a Lutheran Ordinate, that means that either the Lutheran has rejected Chemnitz, and therefore Lutheranism, or the Catholic has rejected the Council of Trent, and therefore Catholicism. Insofar as so much of the VII church is an implicit rejection of Trent, I can see the Ordinate as a possibility. But a remote one, me thinks.

    Ok–that’s three posts on this entry. I’m finished. :)

  25. Mariana says:


    “As a former Lutheran, I’m appalled (from a Lutheran perspective!) at what goes on at my current Catholic Mass….And none of this even touches upon the awful music and iconoclasm that are unique to my current Catholic (as opposed to my former Lutheran) situation.
    Odd, things are, no?”

    You said it! Same thing here.
    Here (in Scandinavia) the Lutheran church officially calls itself the heir of the Catholic Church. Silly, but they are perfectly sincere about it, and meticulously implement VII things as much as possible. Lutherans had better just go on and convert one by one.

  26. JonPatrick says:

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned here is holy orders. many Anglicans, at least the more conservative ones, subscribe to the “3 branch” theory and recognize the validity of an ordained priesthood, even if their own ordinations are not considered valid by the Catholic Church, at least they have the tradition of apostolic succession and the concept of a hierarchy of bishops and priests. On the other hand, as I understand it, Lutheranism was founded on a rejection of holy orders and substitution of the “priesthood of all believers”. So for Lutherans to come in to the church as a group there is no already existing concept of a priesthood or holy orders, so one would have to start from scratch as it were.

  27. contrarian says:

    That’s a good point, but it’s not entirely true. I’m quite sure that among the Schwarmerei, there is a fuzzy and vague notion of ordination and an emphasis on the priesthood of all believers. But among orthodox Lutherans, the notion of holy orders is important (even if understandings of such differ from the Catholic’s). Only an ordained minister can, e.g., absolve sins and consecrate the elements (remember that orthodox Lutherans believe in the Real Presence…they just reject the idea that we must interpret the Real Presence through Aristotelian metaphysics).

    So I’m guessing that this won’t be the factor. But I could be wrong.

  28. schmenz says:

    “The Holy Father then sought a solution and, in my opinion, found a very broad solution, in which the Anglicans’ ecclesial and liturgical traditions were taken into ample consideration,” says Cardinal Koch.

    I wish the Vatican would take the “ecclesial and liturgical traditions” of Catholics into consideration.

  29. Sixupman says:

    My only experience of Lutheran churches is in the Ruhrgebiet. It appears to me that it somewhat like the CofE, you have a choice: evangelical; middle and high church. The latter akin to Anglo-Catholicism, and, as I have posted, in the past, their Dortmund Cathedral gave all the appearance of being Catholic, whilst Catholic, counterparts, provided a sparse evangelical approach.

  30. MikeM says:

    I’ve been to a few Lutheran churches for weddings and such where the service had a more Catholic appearance than most Catholic parishes. Lutherans would have to give up being LUTHERan to enter the Catholic Church, but if they’re prepared to accept everything in the catechism and want to be in full communion with Rome, I suppose there’s no reason that they can’t have a structure that maintains certain cultural elements that they find valuable. I’ve encountered a very small number of Lutherans who see errors in their own history and would like to see reunion with Rome. It’s a very very small number, but if those people are prepared to give on every doctrinal issue and only wish to keep their communities in tact and keep a couple of doctrinally acceptable liturgical differences, I don’t see why we couldn’t accommodate that.

  31. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Perhaps it would not forward the cause of rapprochement – or more – though, again, among those with a sense of humour… (And perhaps there would be Hammerstein copyright issues… ) Anyway, I was struck by the idea of (T-)shirts, ‘swag’, etc. for 31 October/1 November with, “These are a Few of My Favourite Theses”, followed by selection ad lib., such as “17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased.”

    And – perhaps less potentially ‘double-edged’ – and favouring images – my mind raced further to “These are a Few of My Favourite Hallows” – whether concentrating on (non-human) relics – such as the Santo Caliz – or interchangeably with “These are a Few of My Favourite Saints” (or would these last two be too vulgar and trivializing?).

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