Pope, on his birthday, urges Christian unity

 — May 19, 198519 mai 1985

by E. J. Dionne, New York Times

Pope John Paul II celebrated his 65th birthday today before cheering crowds with talk of Christian unity and a stern warning to youth against the exploitation ”of our weaknesses and our passions.”

John Paul, who has been criticized by some Protestant leaders for slowing ecumenical dialogue, called on the Christian churches to ”practice a wider hospitality.”

But he added that the cause of unity would not be advanced if Christians disguised their real differences.

The Pope later celebrated mass before some 40,000 in a pasture at the edge of this small town in southern Belgium where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared 30 times in 1932 and early 1933 to a group of children. John Paul visited a shrine to the Virgin before the mass.

Throughout the day, the Pope received birthday greetings in many forms. In Mechlin, a city between Brussels and Antwerp, the famous carillon of the 13th-century St. Rombaut Cathedral pealed the Happy Birthday song. His speeches were also interrupted with renditions in Polish of ”Sto Lat,” or ”May You Live 100 years.”

At one point in the youth rally at Namur, the crowd was so persistent in rhythmically chanting ”Vive Le Pape” during his address that John Paul smilingly broke into the same rhythm with the phrase ”Taisez-vous!” French for ”shut up.”

In his speech in Namur, the Pope cautioned the crowd of about 50,000 young people to ”avoid the traps that our society sets to exploit the weak and that the Devil sets to exploit our weaknesses and passions.”

He listed these as including ”the promise of easy, immediate pleasure, unbridled sex, drugs of all kinds, artificial gadgets, expensive fashions, thought-destroying noise, illusion-masters and dream merchants, every modern idol which fosters our egoism in all its aspects.”

The Pope made his address on relations between the Christian churches in Mechlin, the city where unity talks between Roman Catholic and Anglican church leaders were held between 1921 and 1925.

The issue of Roman Catholic relations with the Protestant Churches has been one of the more controversial aspects of John Paul’s papacy.

The Church of Rome entered a period of dialogue with Protestantism after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which endorsed a more open approach to non-Roman Catholic Christians.

In the view of many leading Protestant leaders, John Paul has slowed down the ecumenical movement.

The issue arose earlier this week in The Netherlands when The Rev. Henk Huting, head of the Dutch Reformed Church, told John Paul that Roman Catholic ”Church policy has been aimed in recent years at discouraging ecumenical contacts rather than encouraging them.”

Mr. Huting added that ecumenical dialogue appeared to have been ”slowed down and obstructed on instructions from higher authority.”

John Paul appears to have made a conscious decision to de-emphasize ecumenical approaches to Protestants in favor of a new emphasis on unity with the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Moreover, John Paul, fearful of diluting Catholic identity and doctrine, sees the more liberal Protestant denominations as moving even farther away from Catholicism on such matters as the ordination of women as priests.

Today, he repeated his belief that the cause of unity would not be served by ”concealing discord” or through ”superficial and precarious compromises” among the faiths.

But the Pope affirmed his commitment to ecumenism, telling representatives of Anglican and other Christian denominations that ”baptism creates among those who receive it, a bond of solidarity which is stronger than all divisions, because it is the permanent source of life, of healing and of regeneration.”

Posted: May 19, 1985 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6374
Categories: NewsIn this article: Christian unity, dialogue, John Paul II
Transmis : 19 mai 1985 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6374
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Christian unity, dialogue, John Paul II

  Previous post: Ancien article : Confession urged for churchmen
  Newer post: Article récent : Archbishop reaffirms call for Christian unity