From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017

"26. The Second Vatican Council, responding to the scriptural, liturgical, and patristic revival of the preceding decades, dealt with such themes as esteem and reverence for the Holy Scripture in the life of the church, the rediscovery of the common priesthood of all the baptized, the need for continual purification and reform of the church, the understanding of church office as service, and the importance of the freedom and responsibility of human beings, including the recognition of religious freedom.

27. The Council also affirmed elements of sanctification and truth even outside the structures of the Roman Catholic Church. It asserted, “some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church,” and it named these elements “the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too” (UR 1).(6) The Council also spoke of the “many liturgical actions of the Christian religion” that are used by the divided “brethren” and said, “these most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation” (UR 3). The acknowledgement extended not only to the individual elements and actions in these communities, but also to the “divided churches and communities” themselves. “For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation” (UR 1.3).

28. In light of the renewal of Catholic theology evident in the Second Vatican Council, Catholics today can appreciate Martin Luther’s reforming concerns and regard them with more openness than seemed possible earlier."