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Reflections and Statements (Various Topics)

Section5.
THE SIGNIFICANCE AND SCOPE
OF THE CONSENSUS REACHED

40. The understanding of the doctrine of justification set forth in this
Declaration shows that a consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of
justification exists between Lutherans and Catholics. In light of this
consensus the remaining differences of language, theological elaboration,
and emphasis in the understanding of justification described in paras. 18
to 39 are acceptable. Therefore the Lutheran and the Catholic explications
of justification are in their difference open to one another and do not
destroy the consensus regarding the basic truths.

41. Thus the doctrinal condemnations of the 16th century, in so far as they
relate to the doctrine of justification, appear in a new light: The
teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this Declaration does not
fall under the condemnations from the Council of Trent. The condemnations
in the Lutheran Confessions do not apply to the teaching of the Roman
Catholic Church presented in this Declaration.

42. Nothing is thereby taken away from the seriousness of the condemnations
related to the doctrine of justification. Some were not simply pointless.
They remain for us "salutary warnings" to which we must attend in our
teaching and practice.(21)

43. Our consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification must
come to influence the life and teachings of our churches. Here it must
prove itself. In this respect, there are still questions of varying
importance which need further clarification. These include, among other
topics, the relationship between the Word of God and church doctrine, as
well as ecclesiology, ecclesial authority, church unity, ministry, the
sacraments, and the relation between justification and social ethics. We
are convinced that the consensus we have reached offers a solid basis for
this clarification. The Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church
will continue to strive together to deepen this common understanding of
justification and to make it bear fruit in the life and teaching of the
churches.

44. We give thanks to the Lord for this decisive step forward on the way to
overcoming the division of the church. We ask the Holy Spirit to lead us
further toward that visible unity which is Christ's will.
 

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