(Poprad, High Tatra, October 25-27, 2021)
In June 2013, the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg invited seven Slovak doctoral students belonging to the Old Catholic, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran churches to an intensive ecumenical seminar in Strasbourg under the direction of Dr. Ľubomír Batka. In the course of the Counter-Reformation, there were fierce, even violent conflicts between Lutherans and Catholics in Slovakia, and finally a brutal suppression of the Lutheran Church, a conflict that continues to have an impact today. Lutherans and Catholics have remained strangers to each other and not infrequently encountered each other with hostility. The seminar in 2013 was a first attempt to bring young theologians from different churches into conversation with each other about the theological controversies of the Reformation period. The subject of the discussions was the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" (1999) and the document "From Conflict to Communion," published only shortly before the seminar, which was intended to enable Catholics and Lutherans to commemorate the Reformation together. The discussions in the seminar continued into the night; it was exciting and downright exhilarating for the doctoral students to be able to talk for a long time with people from other churches for the first time. The enthusiasm for the seminar gave rise to the idea of translating "From Conflict to Communion" into Slovak.
With this self-commitment the participants departed from the Institute’s 2013 seminar. It then took several years to complete the translation, for which Eva Guldanová was the driving force. The translation had to be reviewed and approved by both Catholic and Lutheran church leaders. It was published in 2020 and sent to all Lutheran and Catholic pastors in the country. It is also available on the Website of both churches.
After the Lutheran parish conference had to be cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, it was rescheduled for 2021 and dedicated to the theme „An Ecumenical Look at the Reformation — in the presence of several Catholic bishops, several priests and sisters — which was a great change in view of the sorrowful history. Prof. Dieter, who contributed significantly to “From Conflict to Communion,” introduced the text in his lecture, traced the difficulties of its creation and presented the basic ideas; Prof. Ľubomír Žák (Rome) added a Catholic perspective. In addition, a university assistant from Bratislava and Prof. Dieter gave presentations on the Augsburg Confession as an ecumenical text. On the evening of October 26, the Lund liturgy was celebrated in an ecumenical service in the Lutheran Church of Poprad — a deeply moving service that marked a breakthrough for Catholic-Lutheran ecumenism in Slovakia. In the process, the Slovak pastors generously offered 520 EUR for the repair of the Institute’s roof! The Ecumenical Fellowship of Churches and Religious Communities in the Region of the City of Košice then added another 317 EUR. For this we in the Institute are very grateful to our brothers and sisters in Slovakia.
The persistent work on translation undertaken by the young theologians has contributed to a change in the ecumenical climate in this country. We in the Institute are glad that we were able to give an impetus to this.