January 19, 2001
volume 12, no. 19
Vatican Official Appraises Ecumenical Dialogue

    VATICAN, Jan. 18, 01 ( -- Ecumenical dialogue was a difficult process during the Jubilee year, according to the secretary for the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

    Bishop Walter Kasper, a German theologian and former bishop of Rottenburg, offered his thoughts on ecumenical progress during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. His remarks appeared in the January 18 issue of L'Osservatore Romano.

    The publication of the statement Dominus Iesus in September, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, caused some particular difficulties, Bishop Kasper said. However, he added that Dominus Iesus was an important document, since it counteracted notions that are contradictory to the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.

    In general, the bishop said, ecumenical dialogue has been harmed by "misunderstandings and abuses." Among the abuses he mentioned "the spirit of relativism, of indifferentism and of pluralism in principle." All these attitude are particularly strong in contemporary culture, he observed. The Church must therefore guard against "compromises that search for the least common denominator, or even opportunistic and pragmatic indifferentism that loses sight of the question of truth." Dominus Iesus, he pointed out, "quite rightly" rejected such abuses.

    "Properly understood, ecumenical dialogue does not contradict the belief in absolute truth," Bishop Kasper continued. The real point of such dialogue, he explained, is not merely to engage in a polite or academic exchange of opinions, but to seek "more profound perspectives" and "new aspects" of "the single truth that is found in Christ Himself."

    The bishop went on to sketch the main features of dialogue with the different Christian denominations, pointing out that the Catholic Church must take a different approach to Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Evangelical Protestant churches. The style and substance of ecumenical dialogue is different in each case, he observed.

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January 19, 2001
volume 12, no. 19
News from Rome

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