POPE URGES FOCUS ON ECUMENISM, CALLING FOR EUROPE TO BE "CRUCIBLE" OF ECUMENISM

     VATICAN (CWN) -- Pope John Paul II has again called for a new effort to stimulate ecumenical dialogue-- explicitly ruling out "halfway measures"-- as a preparation for the Jubilee.

      The Pope addressed his thoughts to the members of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, which met at the Vatican today. "We must infuse new vigor into our actions, to realize clearly our Lord's will for unity," he said. The ecumenical impulse begins with the recognition that "we are brothers," the Holy Father explained.

      While recognizing that progress has been made, the Pope added that such progress should only encourage greater effort, since "we cannot be content" to have overcome some of the obstacles that block the way to full Christian unity. "The goal is full unity," he observed.

      One "precondition" for real ecumenical progress is the "assimilation" of the teachings of Vatican II, the Pope continued. He asked those who lead ecumenical efforts to do their utmost to spread those teachings-- while avoiding the tendency to "simplify" them.

      Pope John Paul II hopes that Europe will become a "crucible" of ecumenical activity, promoting Christian unity throughout the world.

      The Holy Father advanced his vision for "ever more intense" ecumenical work as he spoke to members of the joint counsel of European episcopal conferences, at their meeting in Rome today. The Pope again renewed his plea for a drive to realize Christian unity for the millennium celebrations.

      Pope John Paul observed that all Christians share the duty to spread the Gospel throughout the world, to be leaven in society. "The witness of unity," he said, "is an essential element of authentic evangelization."

      Noting that Europe in recent years has seen the arrival of many representatives of other faiths-- he mentioned specifically Islam and Asian religions-- the Holy Father added that Christian churches "must show a spirit of confident openness" and work with these new faiths to advance "the dialogue of life." In particular he said that Christians and other believers could work together to restore the stability of family life, and the appreciation for human dignity.

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February 23, 1998 volume 9, no. 38          DAILY CATHOLIC