VATICAN CITY — Lutheran leaders have warned the Vatican that the creation of a structure to welcome conservative Lutherans into the Catholic Church would harm dialogue and damage ecumenical relations.
In 2009, Pope Benedict created a special church structure, called an ordinariate, to allow disgruntled Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while maintaining bits of their traditions and culture.
Ordinariates have been created in the U.S., England and Australia, attracting hundreds of conservative Anglicans who oppose female and gay bishops and who seek greater lines of authority.
In recent weeks, senior Vatican officials publicly suggested the creation of a similar structure for disaffected Lutherans; the idea was first floated last October by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican chief ecumenist.
According to Catholic media reports, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Vatican’s doctrinal office, said on Jan. 11 that if Lutherans asked for the creation of an ordinariate, the Vatican would consider their request.
Mueller’s words were swiftly rebuked by the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. “The creation of such a special structure would have deep ecumenical repercussions,” he warned on Jan. 18.