Cardinal Kasper takes stock of ecumenical dialog

Source: FSSPX News


Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, took stock of the ecumenical dialog on January 21, on the airwaves of Radio Vatican, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year the theme was Christ, Sole Foundation of the Church. According to Cardinal Kasper, “this foundation we all share in common, (…) from there we must launch our ecumenical engagement”.

He evoked “the relations with the Orthodox Churches, which have certainly greatly improved”. That’s true with regard to the Russian Orthodox Church, even if  “relations have been a bit difficult these last few years”, he affirmed. “The fact that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople came to Rome twice is of great importance, and also most definitely improved our relations quite a bit”. “Today we hope that, in the second half of the year, we will be able to reopen the dialog with the Orthodox Churches”.

On June 29, 2004, during a reception of Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, John-Paul II underscored the importance and urgency of the renewal of theological dialog, which had been on hold since the last session of the International Mixed Commission for dialog, which met in 2000 in Baltimore. In addition, on December 2, 2004, on the occasion of the return of the relics of St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory Nazianzen, the Orthodox Synodal Commission confirmed to the Catholic delegation “its desire to continue the preparation for the next meeting”.

Also, the German cardinal recalled the difficulties encountered with the Anglican and Protestant churches. “We hope to reopen dialog” with the Anglicans, he confided, recalling that, in a certain sense, relations were suspended because of “an internal problem in Anglicanism”. This is the question of the “ordination of a priest who publicly practices homosexuality”. And “this, for us, represents a scandal”. “We must affirm that this problem relative to homosexuality represents an obstacle for us, and that we are firm with regard to what The Catechism of the Catholic Church says”.

Let us recall that on November 25, 2003, the publication of a common declaration between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion was suspended because of these differences with regard to the ordination of homosexuals and the marriage of priests, recently permitted by the Anglican Communion. Nevertheless, the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church committed themselves to pursuing dialog…

Concerning relations with the Protestants, the President of the Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity explained the problems raised by certain Protestants in Germany, “which have taken a position on ordinations that goes counter to all the texts and documents that we have worked out together on the pastoral ministry and ordination”. “This is a big problem because the doctrine on the Church – and above all the doctrine on ordination – represents the center of the current discussion with the Protestants.

Last January 11, the German cardinal had criticized the publication by the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD) of a preparatory document on the question of ordinations. For the cardinal, this document, entitled Devotion and Attribution of the Priesthood according to the Evangelical Understanding (sic), published jointly with a recommendation of the Conference of Lutheran Bishops, proposed as a starting point a common priesthood for Catholics and Protestants.

Finally, underlining, despite everything, the hopes and perspectives for the future of ecumenism, cardinal Kasper hailed the “movements that are particularly committed” [to ecumenism], like Focolare. “I think it’s a very important aspect for the future because ecumenism is not only a doctrinal and intellectual question, but it also involves living a spiritual and Christian experience together”, he concluded.