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Pope Francis next to a statue of Martin Luther placed in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. October, 2016.

VATICAN CITY, January 7, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Foundation (LWF) have released an updated version of their joint document on justification to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s excommunication from the Catholic Church.  

Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1521 by Pope Leo X, but the PCPU and the LWF chose to mark the 500th anniversary by releasing a new Italian translation of their document, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). Announcing the news, the PCPU said it demonstrated the “commitment to walk together on their common journey from conflict to communion.”

In an interview with Vatican News, the secretary of the PCPU Bishop Brian Farrell, explained the deliberate timing of the document’s release: “We have done this because we are in the 500th anniversary of a very important moment in the history of the Church. As you know in these days we have celebrated the 500th anniversary of the excommunication of Luther, so we thought that would be a good anniversary in which to publish this: to show that we’re not in the same place.”

The original document was agreed to in 1999, and a statement released at the time mentioned that Lutherans and Catholics had made “a consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification.” It called for “continued dialogue” in order to reach “full church communion, a unity in diversity, in which remaining differences would be ‘reconciled’ and no longer have a divisive force.” 

Bishop Farrell welcomed the fact that such an eventuality seemed to be occurring: “We’re very far ahead from where we were 500 years ago and down the centuries,” he said. “We are on the road away from conflict towards communion. And that communion grows as we reach new understanding and new agreements between us.”

The English translation of the JDDJ declares that a new common understanding reached by Catholics and Lutherans regarding the doctrine of justification, means that “the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.” 

As Farrell described it: “we do have the same doctrine and it basically says this: ‘together, we Lutherans and Catholics, confess that by grace alone in faith in Christ’s saving work, and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit who renews our hearts and makes us capable of doing good work’.”

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PETITION UPDATE (3/15/21) - 

Reports suggest that the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference (USCCB) is preparing a vote on what to do about pro-abortion Joe Biden (and, presumably, other abortion-promoting politicians) who continues to present himself (themselves) for Holy Communion.

Public excommunication would be a suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of scandalously promoting abortion.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this important petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (2/4/20)

Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing Executive Orders to destroy the protections which former President Trump offered to the unborn and to the innocence and modesty of children of the United States.

In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.

And, in another executive order, Biden seeks to force girls' athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to accept gender-confused males.

Since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was shamefully silent throughout the presidential campaign on the pre-eminent issues of abortion and gender ideology, and what Biden vowed he would do as president, it is cold comfort that their pro-life office is now speaking up about this Administration's wilful disregard for human life and for God's design of human nature (i.e., two biological sexes).

Stated plainly, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be, and the bishop, acting in unison (as the USCCB) have an obligation to the Lord (first) and to the faithful (second) to refuse Holy Communion to this grave public sinner.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who continues to use the church as a backdrop for statements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, is now doing everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

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PETITION UPDATE (12/10/20)

Prior to the election on November 3, the U.S. bishops did not address Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic position regarding faith and morals as a unified body.

The USCCB, the organization to which every U.S. bishop belongs and which is staffed and led by bishops, remained disgracefully silent in the run-up to the election.

What were the bishops afraid of, losing their charitable tax status with the IRS, or being deprived of fat checks from the HHS (immigration programs) and USAID (foreign aid programs)?

Or, were they just too cowardly to clearly declare Christ's law to be above man's law and risk the ire of a Joe Biden as president?

Either way, the bishops’ lack of clarity in this regard is a terrible scandal in itself and probably greatly contributed to the possible election of a pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Catholic to the presidency.

Given the fact that exit polling shows Catholics split their vote 50-50 for Trump and Biden, even a slight deviation in the heavily-Catholic swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could have produced different results.

The bishops could have spoken out against Biden’s pro-abortion stance collectively, but, again, they were overwhelmingly and shamefully silent.

Because of this, they will be at least partly responsible for the policies advanced by a Biden administration, in the event that Biden is sworn into office.

However, the bishops can, even now, mitigate the damage done by their inaction by taking the following steps: 1) Speak with one voice, as the USCCB, and plainly condemn Biden's pro-abortion stance; 2) Publicly advise Biden not to present himself for Holy Communion because of his scandalous position on abortion and homosexual "marriage;" and, 3) Tell Biden to publicly repent of publicly promoting the wilfull murder of the preborn, sins against nature, and diminishing the natural family.

Thankfully, some individual bishops have spoken out forcefully on Biden's scandalous behavior, and his standing in the Church.

On November 9, Archbishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas tweeted: “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

Additionally, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado and Archbishop Charles Chaput have both declared publicly that Joe Biden “should not receive Holy Communion."

But, to add insult to injury, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has said that he will give Holy Communion to Biden because “it’s a matter of the responsibility that I have as the archbishop to be engaged and to be in dialogue with him, even in those areas where we obviously have some differences.”

And, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware and Bishop McElroy of San Diego also congratulated Biden in statements, but they have not indicated whether or not they would administer Holy Communion to him.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who uses the church as a backdrop to make sickening political advertisements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, says that he will do everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-concerned-about-pro-abortion-biden-previously-hailed-him-as-second-catholic-president

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abp-aquila-backs-call-for-pro-abortion-catholic-joe-biden-to-be-denied-holy-communion?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=standard

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/former-philly-archbishop-biden-not-in-full-communion-with-the-catholic-church

https://www.thesoutherncross.org/news/bishop-mcelroy-offers-prayers-and-congratulations-to-president-elect-biden/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/us-catholics-weigh-mixed-reaction-biden-win

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PETITION UPDATE (9/29/20)

Cardinal Raymond Burke has stated that Democratic candidate Joe Biden should not receive Holy Communion because of his support for abortion.

In an interview for Thomas McKenna's Catholic Action for Faith and Family podcast, Cardinal Burke states the following (starting around 5:00):

First of all, I would tell him [Biden] not to approach to receive Holy Communion, out of charity toward him, because that would be a sacrilege and endanger the salvation of his own soul.

But, also, he should not approach to receive Holy Communion because he gives scandal to everyone, because if someone says, 'I'm a devout Catholic," and, at the same time is promoting abortion, it gives the impression to others that it's acceptable for a Catholic to be in favor of abortion.

Of course, it's absolutely not acceptable, and never has been, and never will be.

We give thanks for Cardinal Burke's frankness and clarity. And, we call on every U.S. Catholic bishop to follow Cardinal Burke's lead and call out Joe Biden for his bloody-minded hypocrisy on the issue of abortion.

To reiterate: You cannot be a Catholic and support abortion.

Thank you for continuing to sign this urgent petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (8/17/20)

The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, keeps claiming to be Catholic but has said he will do everything in his power to support abortion.

And, with his pick of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has just cemented abortion into the Democrats' 2020 presidential ticket.

Indeed, Harris is vehemently pro-abortion.

During her time as attorney general of California, Harris played a key role in defending Planned Parenthood over its sale of aborted baby parts (which violated multiple federal laws, according to undercover video of abortion industry personnel).

And, last year, Harris unveiled a plan to essentially force pro-life states to seek permission from the federal government before pro-life laws can take effect.

Additionally, Harris has dangerous views on religious liberty and freedom of speech.

Harris displayed anti-Catholic bigotry in the confirmation hearings of Judge Brian Buescher. Harris cited his membership in the “all-male society” the Knights of Columbus and its stances against abortion and same-sex “marriage” as grounds for rejecting Buescher for a federal district court in Nebraska.

And, David Daleiden, head of the pro-life investigative group Center for Medical Progress, wrote that from his firsthand experience, he considers Harris the “greatest threat to First Amendment civil rights our country has ever seen.”

Joe Biden has seriously erred by taking on Kamala Harris as his running mate, further distancing himself from the truths of the Catholic Faith, especially that every life is sacred from conception till natural death.

Please CLICK HERE to read an article which details one U.S. bishop's warning about the Biden-Harris ticket.

And, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition.

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Of course, these two things are incompatible: you cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion.

And, a "Catholic" politician's responsibility in this regard is absolute: On pain of serious sin, he or she can never promote abortion because abortion is the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings, and also because doing so causes grave scandal to the Church and the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition asking the bishops of the United States to refuse to give Holy Communion to Joe Biden until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

Biden recently promised to “codify Roe v. Wade” as president, adding, "my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose."

And, since starting his latest run for the presidency, Biden also flip-flopped against the Hyde Amendment, saying that he would allow federal funds to be spent on abortion - a position he claimed to be against for more than 40 years.

In short, Joe Biden will do everything in his power to enable and defend the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings.

So, this should not be a hard decision for our U.S. bishops. In fact, in another circumstance, it was already done by an Illinois bishop.

Indeed, Bishop Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, invoked Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law to withdraw Holy Communion from two Illinois state politicians who had worked to enact radical new abortion legislation in 2019.

Canon 915 states: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Of course, no-one, least of all the bishops, wants anyone to be deprived of Holy Communion.

A politician who publicly and obstinately advocates for the murder of innocent preborn babies puts himself out-of-communion with the Church and her teaching. 

Pro-abortion politicians should not think that they can advocate for the murder of the unborn and receive the Body of Christ at the same time. This would be to defile the Eucharist while giving scandal to the faithful.

Depriving politicians of Holy Communion is not just meant to prevent scandal; it is also designed to bring a grave public sinner to repentance. In this way, such an action is meant to be for the good of their souls, too.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition which calls on the U.S. Catholic bishops to refuse to admit Joe Biden to Holy Communion until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-i-support-abortion-under-any-circumstance

Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion for pro-abortion stance - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-priest-denies-joe-biden-holy-communion-for-pro-abortion-stance

Cardinal McCarrick and the Concealing of Rome’s Position on Denying Communion  - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-mccarrick-and-the-concealing-of-romes-position-on-denying-communio

**Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

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An annex to the original JDDJ stated that in light of the agreement, “the mutual condemnations of former times do not apply to the Catholic and Lutheran doctrines of justification as they are presented in the Joint Declaration.” This change has been effected by employing “insights of recent biblical studies” as well as “drawing on modern investigations of the history of theology and dogma.” It is these aspects which, according to the JDDJ, have fulled “the post-Vatican II ecumenical dialogue.”

Lutherans and Catholics have engaged in a “common listening,” the text adds, which has led to a “consensus in the basic truths,” and “differing explications in particular statements” which are supposedly compatible with that consensus.  

The 20th century theologian Dr. Ludwig Ott, described how the Lutheran concept of justification departs from the Catholic teaching through the “conviction that human nature was completely corrupted by Adam’s sin, and the original sin consists formally in evil concupiscence. Luther conceives justification as a juridical act by which God declares the sinner to be justified, although he remains intrinsically unjust and sinful.” 

On the contrary, Fr. William Most notes that the Catholic teaching “means the reception of (sanctifying) grace for the first time. This grace changes us, making us share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1. 4) which is far different from being totally corrupt.”

Farrell also mentioned another document in connection to the JDDJ, namely “From Conflict to Communion,” a joint work between the PCPU and the LWF released in 2017. In the foreword to that work, the two groups stated that “we must confess openly that we have been guilty before Christ of damaging the unity of the church.”

Five ecumenical imperatives are outlined within it, but none of them deals with the primacy of the Catholic Church or Catholic teaching. Instead, emphasis is repeatedly placed on “unity” and “encounter with the other.”

The new translation and increased ecumenical ties, come as the latest steps in an increasing number of actions undertaken by Pope Francis, in order to align the Catholic Church with the Lutherans. Back in 2016, Francis took part in a commemorative event in Sweden to mark the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the door of the castle church of Wittenberg. Prior to his trip, Francis had received a mixed group of 1,000 Lutherans and Catholics in the Vatican, speaking from a stage which bore a statue of Luther, and claiming “it is not licit” to “convince [non-Christians] of your faith.”

A year later, the Vatican announced it was issuing a stamp depicting Luther at the foot of the cross, in order to commemorate the Protestant revolt.

Then in January of 2020, Lutheran Evangelical Reverend Michael Jonas stated that in a private audience, Pope Francis had “stressed” how “Catholics and Protestants are very close to one another in what they do in their public worship.”

In response to the Pope’s increasing celebration of Lutheranism, Bishop Athanasius Schneider noted that “We have already had an infallible response to the errors of Martin Luther: the Council of Trent.”

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