Pope, in New Zealand, concedes major barriers to Christian unity

 — Nov. 24, 198624 nov. 1986

by Roberto Suro, New York Times

Pope John Paul II acknowledged today that ”real differences” between Roman Catholicism and other churches are blocking progress toward Christian unity.

Speaking to leaders of other Christian faiths, the Pope also conceded that his church presents demands that complicate the ecumenical movement.

The Pope’s speech today was his first public statement on ecumenism since the leadership of the Church of England took the important step of saying it would accept some sort of papal authority in a unified church.

John Paul’s comments were also significant because New Zealand’s Catholics have been particularly energetic in pursuing ecumenical contacts.

After a heated debate, the Church of England’s General Synod, a type of church parliament, overwhelmingly approved a motion Nov. 13 that noted that contacts with the Vatican had produced ”sufficient convergence on the nature of authority” to pursue further talks on the role of the papacy in a unified church. The Goals of Ecumenism

Today John Paul did not explicitly refer to Rome’s insistence on the supreme authority of the papacy, which has been a major barrier in the past. Instead, his speech at the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament focused on the proper goals of the ecumenical movement and asserted that little progress had been made so far.

”As we meet here today,” he told the Christian leaders, ”we can rejoice that despite the still serious differences between us, a real communion, limited though it is, binds us together.”

A moment later he added, ”Yet in honesty we also have to acknowledge that real differences between us make our communion incomplete.”

The Pope was in Christchurch, the largest city on South Island, at the end of a 48-hour visit to New Zealand. He is halfway through a two-week tour of Asia and the Pacific and is leaving today on a six-day trip to Australia.

The Basis for Unity

Since the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 the Catholic Church has undertaken a variety of interfaith contacts like the prayer service here today. But differences on major issues like priestly celibacy and divorce have remained a point of division.

Today John Paul drew a sharp distinction between the successes on a practical level and union in a more fundamental way. The ecumenical movement’s proper goal, the Pope said, ”is much more than a federation, a working arrangement, a means of enabling the followers of Jesus Christ to do certain things together.”

”We are convinced that the goal is not simply partnership; it is nothing less than the fullness of communion in a visible, organic unity,” he added.

Later today the Pope celebrated mass for about 25,000 people in a Christchurch rugby stadium.

As a brief, violent storm poured rain on the crowd, a barefoot woman broke through security lines and ran to the foot of the altar. Two police officers pulled her away. A police spokesman said she was arrested for breach of the peace and was found to be incoherent. The police said the woman, who was not identified, posed no danger.

The incident occurred as worshipers scurried for cover from the rain and was little noticed.

Posted: Nov. 24, 1986 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6389
Categories: NewsIn this article: Christian unity, ecumenism, John Paul II
Transmis : 24 nov. 1986 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6389
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Christian unity, ecumenism, John Paul II

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