One Bread, One Body? Catholics, Lutherans and the Eucharist

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Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Religion


Susan Wood, Theology


The worship of the Christian Church has always been centered on the celebration of the Eucharist. Over the centuries, Christian groups have embraced several interpretations of it. While theological development and diversity are often positive, some disagreements divide Christians in a manner which hurts the Church. Historically, disagreements about the Eucharist have been part of that division. I will investigate the Eucharistic theology of Lutherans and Roman Catholics, try to understand where, historically, the two have diverged and if, in the light of twentieth-century ecumenical dialogs, agreement on this topic is near. However, the Eucharist does not stand in a theological vacuum. Participation in the Eucharist has ecclesiological significance as well. Perhaps nothing better illustrates the pain and scandal of a divided church that the absence of a common eucharist. Today, although the theologies of the Eucharist in the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches are similar enough to permit intercommunion, there are ecclesiological issues which render this practice inappropriate at the present time.