Pope demands more emphasis on ecumenism in German visit

 — Mar. 26, 201126 mars 2011

Pope Benedict XVI has intervened personally to demand more time for ecumenical talks with the Protestant Churches when he visits Germany in September.

In a highly unusual move he has written directly to the leader of the Protestant Churches, Chairman Nikolaus Schneider, expressing dissatisfaction with the brevity of the session allotted for their meeting. Barely an hour has been allocated for the encounter under plans drawn up by the German bishops’ conference, the nunciature in Berlin, the Vatican Secretariat of State and the German President’s Office in Berlin.

In his personal letter to Chairman Schneider, dated 28 February, the Pope addresses him as “Dear Brother in Christ” and makes it clear that the time initially allotted to ecumenical talks falls far short of his expectations.

He writes: “I will do everything so that my encounter with Protestant Christians is given the time it deserves. Unfortunately the encounter with the Protestant Churches has been allotted a relatively modest place by those responsible for the provisional plans. I have meanwhile let them know that in the country where the Reformation originated, a stronger ecumenical emphasis is called for.” The Pope was replying to a letter from Chairman Schneider of 8 February in which the bishop expressed the hope that during the Pope’s visit there would be adequate time for talks with the Protestant Churches. “It would be exceptionally inspiring and rewarding to exchange opinions on the significance of the Reformation from our respective perspectives,” Chairman Schneider wrote.

As the Pope is due to visit Erfurt, the first time that a Pope has visited the Reformation heartland, Chairman Schneider suggested they hold an ecumenical service at the famous Augustinerkloster there, the Augustinian monastery where Martin Luther lived as a monk from 1505 to 1511 and which is a national heritage site today. The Pope did not respond to these suggestions in his reply.

The Pope’s demand has been welcomed by Germany’s Catholic and Protestant Churches. “We welcome the Pope’s suggestion for a stronger emphasis on ecumenism and will naturally fulfil his wishes,” said Nina Schmedding, spokeswoman for the German bishops’ conference. Chairman Schneider told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “the Pope’s positive signal” was “most gratifying”. He was “confident that a good and fruitful exchange of ideas will be possible”.

Church and media observers in Germany say the Pope’s “direct and heartfelt” reply to Chairman Schneider’s letter is a “huge surprise” and a “personal attempt by the Pope to break the ecumenical ice”, especially as Chairman Schneider has recently clashed with the German bishops over allowing the Protestant partner in mixed marriages to receive the Eucharist, and over embryo screening which the Protestant bishop favours in certain cases. One commentator said the Pope has a strong underlying ecumenical interest and concern – as illustrated by his successful intervention in 1999 to save the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification – and suggested that the ordinariate mechanism provided for Anglicans is not the principal sort of unifying outcome that he is seeking.

Posted: Mar. 26, 2011 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6740
Categories: TabletIn this article: Benedict XVI, Catholic, ecumenism, Lutheran
Transmis : 26 mars 2011 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6740
Catégorie : TabletDans cet article : Benedict XVI, Catholic, ecumenism, Lutheran

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