It was quite a scene in the chancel of the cathedral. In the front row of the choir seats there were several women pastors and bishops, all dressed in their various liturgical finery, and including the retiring Bishop Christina of Lund, whose successor is also a woman.
There were also some men in the front row, of course, but, while this would be normal protocol, it made for a potent image that in the back row, behind the women pastors and bishops, there sat the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Walter Cardinal Kasper. At the appropriate time during the service, he made his way through the women to come forward to the microphone and greet the congregation. His greeting was warm and dignified, and he read also a congratulatory letter from the Pope, Benedict XVI, on this occasion of the LWF 60th Anniversary, which was graciously received by the congregation.
The service as a whole was a rich and joyful thanksgiving (Eucharist) for the gift of the Communion we call LWF, our life together as Lutherans in the world, and our deep commitment to being part of the whole household of Christ which we call the church. The highpoint, naturally, was our sharing in the meal at our Lord’s Table, invited there by him. With all our differences, all our disagreements, some of them quite strong, we gathered to receive the body and the blood of our Lord and Saviour, who alones makes us one, whose gift and invitation it is that we share in his body, not just at the table of the meal, but in the daily life of his church in the world as we work together in mission for others, in North America, in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, in Europe, and in the whole world for which Christ died and which God loves so very much.
– Rev. Paul Johnson, Assistant to the Bishop for Ecumenical Relations, attending the LWF Council meetings and 60th Anniversary celebrations as an observer