A Melbourne Catholic in the Court of the Lutheran Church of Australia
Well, not quite the "court", but the Lutheran Church of Australia National Convention Reception on Saturday night, anyway. I was very happy to be invited with my Lutheran wife to this social occasion during the Lutheran's national synod here in Melbourne this weekend. The invitation might have been a bit "naughty" on behalf of the local organisers (who are good friends). I think they were interested to see what would happen if this particular cat was set among those particular pigeons!
All in all, it was a delightful occasion where I had the chance to catch up with many good friends from around the country. I was very moved by the fact that my "defection" nine years ago has not dampened the affection and deep regard that exists between us. As I might have mentioned before, relationships between Lutherans and Catholics here in Melbourne is particularly positive as they are being built upon the foundation of personal friendships and networks. Part of that positive relationship is the deep regard both communities have for faithfulness to the gospel and the church, and a resulting high degree of shared teachings and moral values.
If you want to find out what has been happening at their Synod, just go to: http://www.lca.org.au/lca/synod/. Here is just one interesting report:
Private confession and absolution to be promoted as regular Lutheran practice
A study of private confession and forgiveness, prompted by the consequences of mandatory reporting legislation for pastors who are bound to uphold the seal of confession, has led to work focusing on the benefits of private confession and absolution (forgiveness) within the spiritual life of the church.
‘Private confession and absolution is a practice deeply embedded in the Lutheran tradition but one that has fallen into relative disuse so that most people in the church know little if anything about it’, said Rev Dr Jeff Silcock, chair of the Commission on Theological and Inter-Church Relations.
Synod agreed that pastors and congregations together study and reflect on the practice, with a view to discovering how private confession and absolution enhances the pastoral care of individual and the spiritual life of the church, and that pastors and congregations promote the practice in the life the church.
Dr Silcock said, ‘The Commission hopes that the document it has produced will encourage pastors to teach the benefits of private confession and so encourage congregational members to go to their pastor to confess any sin that is burdening their conscience and receive from him, as from Christ himself, God’s forgiveness.’