Catholicism’s ‘ambassador’ underscores passion for unity

 — June 6, 19876 juin 1987

by John Bolt, Ottawa Citizen

ATLANTA – Roman Catholicism’s chief ambassador to other Christians is underscoring his church’s “passion for unity” and acceptance of other denominations as partner churches.

Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Christian Unity, visited several eastern U.S. cities in May, emphasizing “substantial progress” toward the goal and Rome’s commitment to it.

“Where there is grace, there is union in Christ,” he told the annual National Workshop on Christian Unity in Atlanta. “All Christ’s disciples are included in the church in Christ’s own way.

” Whoever belongs to Christ belongs to the church. ”

In Washington, Willebrands encouraged continued interchurch theological talks, saying they have produced ” greater common insight, ” clearing away past mutual distortions and misunderstandings.

He said all the churches ” can learn from each other. ”

Willebrands emphasized positions taken by the Second Vatican Council, which recognized other denominations as churches alongside Roman Catholicism.

In Atlanta, his stand was termed particularly significant by Brother Jeffrey Gros, theology expert of the National Council of Churches, which embraces most major Protestant and Eastern Orthodox denominations in the United States.

Gros said recent statements from other Vatican officials, including the doctrinal head, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had led some ecumenical leaders to believe Catholicism was returning to views that it was the only true church.

There are about 800 million Roman Catholics and about 600 million Protestants and Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide.

Willebrands, head of the unity sectretariat since 1969, told a news conference he was seeking to point up his church’s concern for ecumenism because some people seemed to be losing sight of Vatican II.

That historic council of 1962-65 brought many reforms in Roman Catholicism, including its full-fledged entry into ecumenical efforts.

Willebrands, who has been involved quietly in unity efforts since 1946, said he felt he had a perspective that few others in Catholicism could offer.

Willebrands said Vatican representatives are continuing to meet with Russian and Greek Orthodox leaders, and also holding dialogues with Anglicans, Lutherans and others, achieving various accords.

He said both Catholics and Protestants had moved away from prejudice toward each other.

Posted: June 6, 1987 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: Christian unity, ecumenism
Transmis : 6 juin 1987 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Christian unity, ecumenism

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