Danger to Christian Unity
Ironically, and appropriately, a word on the dangers of modern ecumenism comes from a representative of the Pope. Well said indeed! The Lutheran World Federation represents a dead-end when it comes to genuine church unity. It is more than willing simply to let everything become an "agree to disagree" matter of "reconciled diversity."
There is a great book by CPH titled, "<http://www.cph.org/cphstore/product.asp?category=&part%5Fno=531112&find%5Fcategory=&find%5Fdescription=&find%5Fpart%5Fdesc=ecumenical>The Ecumenical Luther" — an excellent survey of Luther on church unity and how he handled these matters. Here is the link in case your e-mail client doesn’t display imbedded links:
Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
25 January 2006
Vatican cardinal warns that search for Christian unity is in
By Stephen Brown
Rome, 25 January (ENI)–The search for Christian unity is at risk
because churches no longer agree about the aim of ecumenism, a
top Vatican official has warned, but he says they can make
progress if they clearly state their differences in an honest
"If we no longer agree about the aim the danger is that we will
go in different, maybe even opposite directions, and will be
further apart at the end than we were at the beginning," said
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity.
"We have become much more aware of the differences over the past
decade," Kasper noted in a speech to a meeting in Rome intended
to promote unity between Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and
Protestant denominations in Europe.
He pointed to developments such as a Roman Catholic statement
from 2000, which restated Catholic belief that Protestant
denominations "are not churches in the proper sense". Also
Protestants had made statements in which they clearly distanced
themselves from Catholic positions, he recalled.
"Such a profile-based ecumenism, as it is called these days,
leads to a certain disillusionment but also to greater honesty,"
Kasper told the 24-27 January opening event of the 3rd European
Ecumenical Assembly. "It has nothing to do with the onset of an
ecumenical ice age or the end of ecumenical dialogue," he
continued. "Only partners that have a clear identity that they
know and appreciate can appreciate the stance of others and enter
into a serious dialogue and exchange."
Still, German Lutheran Bishop Margot Kaessmann, in her keynote
speech to the gathering, warned that attempts by churches to
differentiate themselves from one another weakened their common
witness in European society.
"In an age when so many religious currents are flowing into
Europe, from Islam to Buddhism, from the esoteric to patchwork
religion, Christians’ common witness to their faith needs all the
more to be recognisable," said Kaessmann.
She noted that, "Particularly in facing the great ethical
challenges of our time, we should seek common positions"
highlighting issues such as biotechnology, assisted suicide,
energy policy, and refugees.
The Rome meeting has been organized by the Council of European
(Roman Catholic) Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Conference
of European Churches (CEC). The two church groupings between them
account for almost all of Europe’s Anglican, Orthodox,
Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches.
The two previous ecumenical assemblies took place in Switzerland
in 1989 and in Austria in 1997. [422 words]
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