European Christian Churches OK "Ecumenical Charter"

Document Signed by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants

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ROME, FEB. 1, 2001 ( The two highest authorities representing the European Christian Churches agreed on the text of the “Ecumenical Charter,” a document that gives general guidelines for cooperation among them.

The announcement was made in Porto, Portugal, where a meeting was recently held of the Joint Commission of the Council of European Bishops´ Conferences (CCEE), and the Conference of European Churches (KEK), which includes the Anglican Communion and several Orthodox and Protestant Churches.

In a joint statement published Wednesday, the CCEE and KEK announced that the document will be signed and published April 22, in Strasbourg, France, by the presidents of the two organizations, Metropolitan Jérémie of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic.

This will be the finishing touch to a European ecumenical meeting, which will take place in the Alsatian city from April 17-22, the most important to be held in the Old Continent in the last four years.

Father Aldo Giordano, CCEE secretary, told to the Italian newspaper Avvenire that the introduction of the document explains that the charter does not have theological, dogmatic or juridical authority. However, this does not mean that the commitments implied in the document are valueless.

“Each one will receive and adapt them to their own situation, perhaps even addressing issues at the local level with other Christian denominations present in their area,” Father Giordano said.

The text was not published, but its fundamental structure was included as a first draft on the Internet site of the Swiss bishops´ conference

Another topic addressed at Porto was the Vatican declaration “Dominus Iesus,” published last September. In their statement, the two organizations state that the document has been a “cause of suffering for different Christians,” but they underline “the need to make a careful and profound reading of it, keeping in mind the proper context.” They also called for further study of the relation between “one Church and many Churches.”

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