DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     January 13, 1999     vol. 10, no. 8

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- As the annual week of prayer for Christian unity (January 18- 25) approaches, the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity has offered an outline of current relations between the Holy See and other Christian communions.

          Msgr. Eleuterio Fortino began his summary with a general affirmation: "The Catholic Church is in dialogue with all Christian communions in the Eastern and Western worlds." He added that this active dialogue is a new development, reflecting the pastoral influence of the Second Vatican Council.

          "At the same time," Msgr. Fortino continued, "while bilateral dialogues have in fact been established, the most serious differences have been identified with great precision, particular in the field of theology."

          Relations with the Orthodox world are complicated, the Vatican official observed, because they involve 15 different autonomous churches. Thus far the dialogue has produced an important statement of common beliefs, promulgated at Balamund in 1993, involving Catholics with the Greek Orthodox churches. He expressed the hope that the dialogue might be extended to include the Russian Orthodox churches, and pointed to the progress in Romania, where an ecumenical commission is considering the disposition of church properties confiscated by the old Communist regime.

          With Lutherans the primary goal for Vatican ecumenical officials is the completion of a common declaration on the theme of justification-- a declaration on which theologians have been working for 30 years. "It should soon be received favorably by the two churches," Msgr. Fortino predicted.

          Finally, Msgr. Fortino noted that the calendar for the Jubilee celebrations in Rome includes a number of events intended to promote ecumenical work. He mentioned the ceremonial opening of the Holy Door of St. Paul outside the Walls, on January 18, 2000, and the recognition of 20th century martyrs on Easter Sunday, May 7, at the Roman Coliseum. In each case, plans call for an extensive collaboration with other Christian denominations in the event.

          Msgr. Fortino listed the dates at which the Vatican had begun formal talks with different Christian bodies:

      - with the Ecumenical Council of Churches in 1965,
      - with the Anglican Church in 1966,
      - with the World Methodist Council in 1967,
      - with the World Lutheran Federation in 1967,
      - with the World Reformed Alliance in 1970,
      - with the Pentecostal movement in 1982,
      - with the Evangelical churches in 1977,
      - with the Disciples of Christ in 1977,
      - with the Orthodox Church in 1980, and
      - with the World Baptist Alliance in 1984.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

January 13, 1999       volume 10, no. 8


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