Switzerland: Protestant testimony in favor of the pope

Source: FSSPX News


From the Protestant side, this refusal is explained by a concern for “coherence” and a serious taking into consideration of the “differences” over communion. “For us,” declared the spokesman for the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FEPS), Simon Weber, to the daily journal 24 heures, “it was not possible to take part in a liturgy which excludes Eucharistic hospitality. It is a great sorrow for us that a common celebration is not possible.” But he was quick to emphasize that this did not in any way jeopardize “the very good ecumenical relations” which exist in Switzerland.

To prove these very good ecumenical relations, the Council of the FEPS published a message on May 24 which wished “a cordial welcome to Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his visit to Switzerland”. Pastor Thomas Wipf, president of the Council, and Paul Schneider, the vice-president, underline here that the Protestant Churches “share the joy of their sister Roman Catholic Church in welcoming her pope.”

The following words also appear in the message: “By his life and by his actions, Pope John Paul II embodies the motto of the National meeting of young Catholics: ’Get up!’. Untiringly, in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul II calls for intervention, in favor of justice, peace and human dignity. He reminds the political men of the entire world of the ethical responsibility attached to their decisions. In the course of his innumerable travels, the Sovereign Pontiff has succeeded in transmitting Christian values and in offering to human beings, words of hope and confidence.”

The Council of the FEPS wishes to render homage to the pope’s efforts with regard to peace and understanding between peoples: “He has excelled in his manner of favoring dialogue between religions and civilizations, and of intervening in favor of reconciliation, and notably for the unity of Europe.”

The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches is grateful to him for this personal undertaking. It presents its greetings to Pope John Paul II on visit to Switzerland, “in a country marked by the Protestant tradition, as in the canton of Bern, where the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches have drawn closer together, little by little. The lively ecumenism, which is practiced here in the communities is a cause for joy and hope. However, the unity between our Churches is not yet achieved. May John Paul II contribute to the removal of the obstacles which separate our confessions. It is towards this goal and for the success of his mandate as head of the Roman Catholic Church, that the Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches wishes him strength, wisdom and divine blessing.”