A LEADING Lutheran theologian has said that Catholic-Lutheran dialogue is preparing the way for Lutherans to "recognise a reformed and restructured form of the papacy."
"Perhaps, one day, Lutherans will be able to recognise the Pope as a sign of unity among different churches," said the theologian, Harding Meyer.
Meyer is a member of the International Evangelical Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, the official dialogue body for the churches. "The role of the Pope would be to preserve the legitimate diversity among churches and to protect their specific identities," he said.
Under a reformed papacy, "churches other than the Roman Catholic would be represented in the election of the Pope," he added.
Meyer's views were reported in Lutheran World Information, a weekly news service of the Lutheran World Federation, headquartered in Geneva. Meyer is director of the LWF-affiliated Institute of Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France.
The main stumbling block regarding Lutheran recognition of the papacy has been the issue of papal infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council.
Since the Second Vatican Council there has taken place "an interpretation of that doctrine which can be brought into harmony with the requirements of reform of the papacy," said Meyer.
The second Vatican Council said that the body of Catholic bishops as a whole share in the church's infallibility.