Talk of Vatican "Indifference" Is Rejected
Cardinal Discounts Allegations Regarding Efforts With Protestants
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Walter Kasper says there is no basis to the allegations that Benedict XVI and the Holy See are indifferent to dialoguing with ecclesial communities that arose from the Reformation.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity recalled that on many occasions the Pope has held meetings with representatives of these communities. And he added that three joint commissions have "concluded important works" in 2006, at the level of relations with Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists.
"Our policy is that we want to dialogue with everyone who wants to dialogue with us," Cardinal Kasper told journalists at a meeting today in the Vatican press office. He was evaluating the ecumenical movement in the context of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, now under way.
"The dialogue is different according to the partner," the Vatican official clarified. "The dialogue with Protestants and the dialogue with Orthodox is different, as there is a qualitative difference. We have an ecclesiology with the Orthodox and share the sacraments."
The cardinal acknowledged that in recent times some issues, such as the admission of women to the priesthood, the stance on homosexuality, have distanced some Reformation confessions even further from the position of the Catholic Church.
"However, there are other free churches that protest against this kind of liberalization of the Protestants, and they feel closer to us," he observed. "There is a certain fragmentation in the Protestant world."
"That is why we dialogue and then see the result," the cardinal continued. "And we cannot decide the speed; it is the dialogue that decides." He made this point for those who contend that there is a two-speed ecumenical dialogue: a fast one with the Orthodox, and a slow one with the Protestants and Reformed.
The ecumenical journey "is a work of the Holy Spirit," the cardinal added. "We do what is possible, but we cannot give in on ethical positions."
Among the key events in 2007 for the dialogue with Reformed communities, the cardinal mentioned the congress of ecclesial movements and Christian communities which is scheduled for May in Stuttgart, Germany. It is expected to draw 3,000 participants.