May 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 129


Ecumenism Emerges As Theme of Consistory

    VATICAN, May 22, 01 ( ) -- The extraordinary consistory of the College of Cardinals continued on Tuesday, with individual prelates making their presentations to the group. The topics discussed were varied, including ecumenism, papal primacy, the importance of family life, and the special role of the Eastern Catholic churches.

    Ecumenism has clearly emerged as one of the most important themes of the consistory. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England, suggested organizing a "pan-Christian" assembly in his country, along the lines of an event that Pope John Paul II had hoped to stage during the Jubilee year. Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, said that ecumenism is "the theme of our times," and took note of the advances in that realm during the current pontificate.

    Two leaders of the Eastern churches-- the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Moussa Daoud, who is now prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches; and Lubomyr Husar, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church-- pointed out that if unity is achieved between the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic churches will inevitably play an important role in building the bridges.

    Cardinal Avery Dulles, the American Jesuit theologian, conceded that many other denominations see the papacy as a stumbling block to Christian unity. However, he observed, the confusion within many of these same denominations helps to underline the importance of authority in matters of doctrine and discipline.

    Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris reminded his fellow cardinals that in plotting a strategy for evangelization, they must think of the Church "not from a human perspective, as one of the institutions of the social organization of the world, but through the eyes of faith, as the spouse of Christ." He cautioned against a purely managerial approach to the challenges facing the Church, urging an emphasis on the unique evangelical mission of the Church in the world.

    Several cardinals introduced specific proposals. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo called for the preparation of a manual on healthy family life-- a project which his Pontifical Council for the Family has already undertaken. Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston suggested that Church leaders schedule regular meetings-- perhaps each year-- to exchange views on the challenges they face.

Ecumenism and Papal Primacy in Focus

Many Cardinals Thankful for "Dominus Iesus"

    VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2001 ( Ecumenical dialogue, Christian unity and papal primacy were at the heart of speeches given by cardinals on the second day of their extraordinary consistory.

    German Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, was among the cardinals gathered in the Synod Hall who dedicated his 10-minute address to the topic of ecumenism.

    "Unity is the challenge of the third millennium," he said, and ecumenism "the topic" of the times.

    Cardinal Kasper said the Jubilee year offered prophetic signs in this regard, such as when the Pope, along with an Orthodox archbishop and a Protestant leader, opened the holy door of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

    The cardinal acknowledged that while ecumenism experiences "evident resistance" and "obstacles" on the part of some Christians, it has come a long way since the Second Vatican Council. He also said that interreligious dialogue has been "accelerated" during John Paul II's pontificate.

    Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls, briefing reporters on the closed-door meetings, said that many cardinals thanked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the publication of the "Dominus Iesus" declaration.

    That 2000 declaration clearly sets forth the unique and universal character of the salvation brought by Christ through His Church. In their addresses, the cardinals suggested that this document be a guide, especially in interreligious dialogue.

    Cardinals from the East offered new points of view on the debates posed by ecumenism.

    Syrian Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches, underlined the dynamism of Eastern Christians, for whom dialogue with other Christians is not a problem. The challenges they face, he said, include realities such as anti-Christian violence, in countries like India.

    Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lvov, explained that there is only one difference between Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholics in his land: the recognition of papal primacy.

    Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II has said that the reason for differences between Rome and Orthodoxy is the existence of these Eastern-rite Catholics. But Cardinal Husar said the opposite is true: Greek-Catholics should be the bridge between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. "We have their same liturgy and rite," he reminded his audience.

    American Cardinal Avery Dulles addressed the topic of papal primacy and its importance for Church unity. The Jesuit theologian said that some believe the issue of primacy creates a great ecumenical difficulty. But he contended that the opposite is actually the case.

    In fact, he said, the great problem of many Christian confessions today is that they do not have a sign of communion to represent them, to give them unity. Many have no leader who can speak on their behalf with other faiths. The absence of an authority also leads to divisions over doctrine and discipline, Cardinal Dulles pointed out.

    Brazilian Cardinal Aloísio Lorscheider, archbishop of Aparecida, referred to the lessons to be drawn from the Jubilee year. In an interview Monday with the Parisian newspaper La Croix, he said he would ask for greater decentralization in Church government. But he did not mention the topic today. ZE01052209

Cardinals Offer a Wide Range of Proposals

Including a Dictionary on Sexuality, and a Christian Summit

    VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2001 ( Taking up John Paul II's challenge, the Church's cardinals today came up with a wide range of pastoral proposals, including a "lexicon" on sexuality and the family.

    The second day of the extraordinary consistory at the Vatican featured a marathon of notably frank speeches by cardinals.

    When he opened the working sessions Monday, the Pope asked the cardinals to present concrete proposals in order to address the challenges facing the Church. Today, the consistory's participants did not disappoint him.

    Colombian Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, opened the series of specific initiatives by proposing the writing of a lexicon of terminology relating to "new" sexuality and to the family.

    The work would explain new terms such as "sexual health" and "gender differences." This manual would include the studies and reflection of the Church, especially that of Vatican delegations to U.N. world conferences on population, women, social development, and shantytowns.

    The Council for the Family would coordinate the initiative, with the help of about 50 internationally known experts, including sociologists and doctors and non-Catholics.

    On Monday, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president of the Vatican Committee for the Holy Year, said that one of the Pope's hopes for the Jubilee was a meeting of representatives of all Christian confessions and churches. Today, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, asked why the meeting couldn't be held now -- and he proposed England as a site for the event.

    Several cardinals spoke of the importance of the media and improved communication within the Church. In this regard, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls revealed that journalists accredited to the Vatican sometimes receive information before dioceses do.

    A proposal by Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, awakened much interest. The cardinal said that "for a series of reasons of a historical nature, Vatican Council II still has much richness that needs to be developed; therefore it is not useful to speak of a new council."

    Milan's Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini proposed "Vatican III" when he attended the 1999 Synod of Europe. The consistory today did not support the idea. In "Novo Millennio Ineunte" the Pope affirmed that Vatican II's proposals illuminate the Church's path in the new millennium.

    The consistory lost two of its participants today, who were unable to attend because of exhaustion. They were Polish Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur, a university friend of Karol Wojtyla who has been in a wheelchair for years, and Brazilian Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, also a great friend of the Holy Father. Cardinal Moreira suffers from diabetes, which obliged him a few months ago to resign as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

    On Wednesday, the cardinals will meet in working groups to continue analyzing the proposals presented at the plenary assembly. At day's end, Mexican Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñíguez, Mexico, the consistory's relator, will give a summary of the sessions.

    Vatican spokesman Navarro-Valls said the Pope wants the cardinals to write a final declaration by Thursday morning, when this pontificate's sixth extraordinary consistory ends. ZE01052208

May 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 129
News from ROME
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