Vinteren 1991 leste jeg et brev som jeg nå for et par dager siden fant igjen (på nettet), og leste på nytt – om en lutherske prest som nylig hadde blitt katolikk. Jeg var i USA noen uker den vinteren; hadde studiepermisjon for å studere luthersk kirkeliv. Jeg møtte da (i skrift) en gruppe av konservative og høykirkelige lutheranere, og jeg ble ganske snart påvirket av deres syn på ulike teologiske spørsmål.
En av lederne av denne bevegelsen, som kaller seg Evangelical Catholics, men er lutheranere, var Richard John Neuhaus. Han hadde nylig blitt katolikk, og hadde nettopp skrevet et brev til sine venner, som jeg så altså leste.
On Saturday, September 8, 1990, the Nativity of Mary, I was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. In the months ahead I will be preparing to enter the priesthood of the Catholic Church. …. This decision is the result of many years of prayer, reflection, conversation, and, I firmly believe, the leading of the Holy Spirit. Especially over the last five years, I have resisted with great difficulty the recognition that I could no longer give an answer convincing to others or to me as to why I was not a Roman Catholic. Over the last 20 years and more, I have repeatedly and publicly urged that the separated ecclesial existence of Lutheranism, if it was once necessary, is no longer necessary; and, if no longer necessary, such separated existence is no longer justified.
Slik fortsetter Neuhaus en stund og forklarer hvorfor han valgte å forlate den lutherske kirke. Men litt senere i brevet snakker han like tydelig og varmt om den kirke han nettopp hadde forlatt, om alt det god ehan hadde mottat der – uttalelser som også jeg helt og fullt kan slutte meg til.
I cannot begin to express adequately my gratitude for all the goodness I have known in the Lutheran communion. There I was baptized, there I learned my prayers, there I was introduced to Scripture and creed, there I was nurtured by Christ on Christ, there I came to know the utterly gratuitous love of God by which we live astonished. For my theological formation, for friendships beyond numbering, for great battles fought, for mutual consolations in defeat, for companionships in ministry–for all this I give thanks and know that I will forever be in debt to the church called Lutheran. Most especially am I grateful for my 30 years as a pastor. There is nothing in that ministry that I would repudiate, except my many sins and shortcomings. My becoming a priest in the Roman Catholic Church will be the completion and right ordering of what was begun 30 years ago. Nothing that was good is rejected, all is fulfilled.