Catholic Bishops Bring Formal Greetings to NCCCUSA

 — Nov. 13, 199813 nov. 1998


[CHICAGO] For the second year running, a representative from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops brought formal greetings to the National Council of Churches’ annual General Assembly, where he was given a copy of the NCC’s response to the Papal Encyclical Ut Unum Sint “On Commitment to Ecumenism.”

“I remember the opportunity to exchange greetings last year, when we were both meeting in Washington, D.C.,” said His Grace Bishop Timothy Joseph Lyne, a retired Auxiliary Bishop from Chicago, who welcomed the Protestant and Orthodox delegates to his city. He said the Bishops were so appreciative of the remarks brought last year by NCC Officers the Rev. Melvin Talbert (United Methodist Bishop) and the Rev. Craig Anderson (Episcopal Bishop), that they enthusiastically suggested the two bodies continue to exchange greetings each year.

“I am happy for the ways we collaborate,” Bishop Lyne said. “I think of the assistance rendered by the Burned Churches Fund and by the work of the Faith and Order Commission, particularly the publication of `Ending Racism in the Church.'”

“This is the same Faith and Order Commission that worked on a document responding to the Papal Encyclical Ut Unum Sint,” Bishop Lyne explained. Deborah Mullen of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a member of the NCC Faith and Order Commission, presented Bishop Lyne with a copy of the response, completed on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of His Holiness Pope John Paul II’s election as Bishop of Rome and sent to Rome this week.

“The letter to the Pope thanks him for his ecumenical encouragement and makes several observations about the Faith and Order context in the U.S. and places where we need to dialogue,” explained the Rev. Bill Rusch, Director of Faith and Order for the NCC. Among the areas the letter highlights as needing attention are “the exercise of authority in the church, biblical interpretation, Tradition and traditions, and primacy” as well as the roles of women and men, including the issue of ordination of women as sacramental ministers.”

The response overwhelmingly greets the encyclical with gratitude. “We see your encyclical as a new expression of the commitment of the Roman Catholic Church to ecumenism, which was articulated so impressively at the Second Vatican Council,” the NCC response reads. “We especially welcome this encyclical because it comes at a time of fragility within the ecumenical movement itself.”

Bishop Lyne said that Et Unum Sint is motivated by a strong and deep hope that ecumenism will deepen in the next millennium. “The next millennium we hope will be marked by the reconciliation and unity of all Christians,” Bishop Lyne concluded.

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