Lutherans, Roman Catholics discuss funeral liturgies

Funeral liturgies and prayers for the dead were among topics discussed during the recent session of the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue, which met Oct. 12-15 in Baltimore.  The theme for this round of discussions is “The Hope of Eternal Life.”
Regarding prayers for the dead, it was noted in the dialogue discussions that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession says that Lutherans “do not forbid” prayers for the dead.  “But Lutherans do not believe there is any scriptural basis for believing that those who have already died can be helped by the prayers of those who are still alive,” stated Dr. Samuel Nafzger, “since the epistle to the Hebrews says that ‘it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.’”
Nafzger is executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations.  He and Dr. Dean O. Wenthe, president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, are the two LCMS representatives to the dialogues.
“The discussions have been most cordial,” Nafzger observed.  “We are developing a good respect for one another.  This is a group of outstanding scholars who are caring and fair-minded people and we are dealing with difficult issues in a Christ-like way.”
In other discussions, the participants heard papers on funeral liturgies presenting the Lutheran and Roman Catholic traditions.
The next meeting of the dialogue will be March 15-18, 2007, at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C.

Posted Dec. 4, 2006

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