Sunday, October 29, 2006

Christian Unity

‘Tragically divided’ churches must come together in hope, pope tells ecumenical leaders

From Catholic Online

Today’s world is in need of a new evangelization and “tragically divided” Christians must come together to offer a consistent message of hope, said Pope Benedict XVI at an ecumenical gathering here.

In an Oct. 27 address in English to the annual meeting of the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions in Rome, the pope told leaders of 18 churches that ongoing ecumenical dialogue cannot lose sight to the importance of continuing to move toward unity.
“The theological dialogues in which many Christian World Communions have been engaged are characterized by a commitment to move beyond the things that divide, towards the unity in Christ which we seek,” Pope Benedict said.

“However daunting the journey,” he stressed, “we must not lose sight of the final goal: full visible communion in Christ and in the church.”

Pointing to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unam Sint on the Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism moving forward and how “greater solidarity” serves humanity, Benedict acknowledged that “we may feel discouraged when progress is low is slow.”
“But,” he said, “there is too much at stake to turn back.”

It is clear, the pope said, “that today’s world is in need of a new evangelization, a fresh accounting on the part of Christians for the hope that is in them.”
“Yet,” he added, “those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord are tragically divided and cannot always give a consistent common witness.”
“Herein lies an enormous responsibility for us all," he said.

“Visions of Christian Unity” was the theme of the meeting, which brought together international church organizations including: the Anglican Communion, the Baptist World Alliance, the Friends World Committee for Consultation representing Quakers, the Lutheran World Federation, Russian and Greek Orthodox churches, the Salvation Army, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council. Since 1957, there have been annual informal gatherings of the organizations’ secretaries.

He noted that he was “glad to see” the meeting theme dealt with an issue foundational to the work of ecumenism.

“For decades the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions has provided a forum for fruitful contacts between the various ecclesial communities,” the pope said. “This has enabled their representatives to build that reciprocal trust needed to engage seriously in bringing the richness of different Christian traditions to serve the common call to discipleship.”

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