An Interview With Bishop Munib Younan On Pope Francis’s Visit to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel

Pope Francis Prays at the Separation Wall
Bishop Younan stands with the Heads of Churches during the Pontifical Mass in Bethlehem
Bishop Younan stands with the Heads of Churches during the Pontifical Mass in Bethlehem (© ELCJHL)

ELCJHL: You were invited to visit Pope Francis in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel?
Bishop Younan: Yes, I was invited to the meeting with Pope Francis in Amman at the King’s Palace. All of the Heads of Churches, the Royal court and governmental ministers, attended this meeting, as well as Pope Francis’s delegation. King Abdullah II delivered a very important speech in which he spoke on two major issues: the role of Jordan in Muslim-Christian relations as highlighted in the Amman Message and the Common Word and the need for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In response, the Pope emphasized the importance of relationships with Muslims and the good work that Jordan has been doing in interfaith work, as well as emphasizing the Christian community that has been quietly witnessing in the Middle East for 2,000 years. The Pope asked to greet this community.

Read King Abdullah II’s speech to Pope Francis

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a clear message on the Palestinian issue that it is time to solve it and that there are obstacles – the settlements, the Judiazation of Jerusalem, but we are still committed to non-violent struggle and for dialogue. Pope Francis’s message to Palestine was that it must have internationally-recognized borders with two states that can live side-by-side in peace, equity, and reconciliation.

Read Pope Francis’s address to representatives of the Palestinian Authority

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LWF: Joint Lutheran-Catholic Publication on Reformation Launched

PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch
PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch reflects on “From Conflict to Communion.” © LWF/S. Gallay

Cardinal Koch: Keynote Address to LWF Council

(LWI) Presenting the keynote address to the Council of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) today, Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), reflected on the joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic publication, “From Conflict to Communion,” which was launched during the meeting of the LWF governing body.

Koch expressed his strong hope that the document will be mutually received by Lutherans and Catholics at global and local levels.

“From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration in 2017,” has been published by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity in the context of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the 50th anniversary of dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics in 2017. It builds on important ecumenical milestones especially the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ).

In his address to the LWF governing body, the PCPCU president reflected on the opportunities that a common Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary would offer; the need to listen to one another about the meaning of the commemoration for both sides; rediscovering what Lutherans and Catholics have in common by having the courage to address the conflicts in the Reformation history; and the significance of the current document for the further dialogue process.

Koch said that the decision by the Lutheran – Roman Catholic Commission on Unity to follow up their dialogue process on the topic of baptism under the working title ‘Baptism and Growing in Communion,” was much to be welcomed, as it represents a further important step on the path of deepening understanding between Lutherans and Catholics. He also proposed that this would open a possibility for the preparation of a future joint declaration on church, Eucharist and ministry.

“The true success of the Reformation can only be achieved through the overcoming of our inherited divisions in a renewed Church consisting of all Christians, and that consequently our ecumenical efforts aimed at recovering unity are actually a completion of the work of the Reformation itself,” Koch said.

Questions about Eucharistic Hospitality

Responding to Cardinal Koch’s address, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan noted that local relationships with Catholics take different shapes in the respective regions and the LWF member churches. “It is my sense that this document can be an important tool in improving relationships and, more importantly, common witness, in all contexts.”

In a plenary discussion following the presentation of “Conflict to Communion” LWF Council members welcomed the publishing of the publication at the global dialogue level, but also expressed hope for its practical reception and relevance at the grassroots.

To read more, visit the Lutheran World Federation’s website.

Cardinal Koch Visits the LWF on Mount of Olives

(Left) His Eminence Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and LWF President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan. © ELCJHL / Elizabeth McHan

LWF President Bishop Younan Gives Thanks for Common Work with Roman Catholics

JERUSALEM/GENEVA, 25 May 2012 (Lutheran World Information)–The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan thanked Kurt Cardinal Koch for the common work between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, when the Vatican official visited the LWF offices on the Mount of Olives, East Jerusalem.

During the 24 May meeting with Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), Younan said the 45 years of bilateral discussions between the LWF and the PCPCU had resulted in productive dialogue “in our continued search for Christian unity.”

The LWF president urged that in the time ahead, both partners “jointly lift up what we have achieved together in our patient, hard and hopeful work, and point together gratefully to all the agreements we have reached.”

On the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, Younan underlined three essential dimensions for the planning, saying, “We believe the commemoration must be global and ecumenical, and must be commemorated in a spirit of repentance, not because we regret the Reformation, rather because mistakes were made on both sides.”

The LWF president also reiterated his hope that the common statement “From Conflict to Communion” would soon be completed by the bilateral dialogue commission, and that a shared understanding of the Reformation might be reached in the processing of “Harvesting the Fruits,” as proposed by the PCPCU.

Younan, who is head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), noted that Lutherans and Roman Catholics share a vision for just peace in the Middle East, supporting a two-state solution with a shared Jerusalem. He emphasized the importance today of common witness in the Holy Land and throughout the Church of Christ.

Through its congregational and educational ministries, the LWF member church ELCJHL reaches out to thousands of individuals and families each year in Jerusalem, other parts of the West Bank and Amman, Jordan.

Services provided by the LWF through its Department for World Service in East Jerusalem include the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), a health facility offering emergency and specialized care in the Occupied Territories, to all patients regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political persuasion. The AVH particularly gives Palestinians access to pediatric dialysis and cancer treatment.