Benedict XVI assesses ecumenical dialogue for the year 2006

Source: FSSPX News

During his general audience on January 24, on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25), the pope assessed the ecumenical activity over the past year. 

Benedict XVI listed the most significant events: the visit to Rome of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (January), the summit of religious leaders in Moscow with the Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II (July), the official visit of the archbishop of Canterbury (November), and lastly his own visit to the Orthodox patriarchate of Constantinople during his “unforgettable visit to Turkey”. Referring to the kiss of peace exchanged with Patriarch Bartholomew 1st, at the end of November 2006 in Istanbul, Benedict XVI spoke of those “gestures more eloquent than words,” and said he wished “to ensure that [they] may bring results.”

We give here some passages from his address which show how the pope perceives his commitment to the ecumenical dialogue desired by the Second Vatican Council: “Reviewing the ground we have covered in the past 40 years, it is surprising to see how the Lord has awakened us from the torpor of self-sufficiency and indifference: how he makes us ever more able to “listen to each other” and not just “to hear each other”; how he has loosened our tongues so that the prayers we raise to him may have a greater force of conviction for the world.” (…)

“‘The concern for restoring unity,’ the Second Vatican Council affirms, ‘involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone, according to the talent of each, whether it be exercised in daily Christian living or in theological and historical studies’ (Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 5). Our first common task is to pray. In praying, and praying together, Christians become more aware of their kinship, even if they are still divided; moreover, in praying we learn to listen to the Lord better because only by listening to the Lord and following his voice can we find the way to unity. (…)

“The experience of the recent decades after the Second Vatican Council demonstrates that the search for Christian unity takes place at various levels and in innumerable circumstances: in parishes, in hospitals, in contacts between people, through the collaboration of local communities in every part of the world and especially in those regions where to make a gesture of good will for one’s brother or sister demands a great effort and also a purification of memory.”

The day before, January 23, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, presented to the press a book entitled Spiritual Ecumenism. Already published in three languages: French, Italian, and English, it will soon be available in German.

It is a handbook giving practical and pastoral advice for the promotion of spiritual ecumenism, which is “the soul of the whole ecumenical movement,” declared the prelate. This book is meant for all those who are ecumenically committed in parishes and dioceses, and to all the members of the Church called to contribute to this project, especially through prayer, he explained.