Ecumenism and Papal Primacy in Focus

Many Cardinals Thankful for «Dominus Iesus»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2001 ( Ecumenical dialogue, Christian unity and papal primacy were at the heart of speeches given by cardinals on the second day of their extraordinary consistory.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, was among the cardinals gathered in the Synod Hall who dedicated his 10-minute address to the topic of ecumenism.

«Unity is the challenge of the third millennium,» he said, and ecumenism «the topic» of the times.

Cardinal Kasper said the Jubilee year offered prophetic signs in this regard, such as when the Pope, along with an Orthodox archbishop and a Protestant leader, opened the holy door of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The cardinal acknowledged that while ecumenism experiences «evident resistance» and «obstacles» on the part of some Christians, it has come a long way since the Second Vatican Council. He also said that interreligious dialogue has been «accelerated» during John Paul II´s pontificate.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls, briefing reporters on the closed-door meetings, said that many cardinals thanked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the publication of the «Dominus Iesus» declaration.

That 2000 declaration clearly sets forth the unique and universal character of the salvation brought by Christ through his Church. In their addresses, the cardinals suggested that this document be a guide, especially in interreligious dialogue.

Cardinals from the East offered new points of view on the debates posed by ecumenism.

Syrian Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches, underlined the dynamism of Eastern Christians, for whom dialogue with other Christians is not a problem. The challenges they face, he said, include realities such as anti-Christian violence, in countries like India.

Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lvov, explained that there is only one difference between Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholics in his land: the recognition of papal primacy.

Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II has said that the reason for differences between Rome and Orthodoxy is the existence of these Eastern-rite Catholics. But Cardinal Husar said the opposite is true: Greek-Catholics should be the bridge between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. «We have their same liturgy and rite,» he reminded his audience.

American Cardinal Avery Dulles addressed the topic of papal primacy and its importance for Church unity. The Jesuit theologian said that some believe the issue of primacy creates a great ecumenical difficulty. But he contended that the opposite is actually the case.

In fact, he said, the great problem of many Christian confessions today is that they do not have a sign of communion to represent them, to give them unity. Many have no leader who can speak on their behalf with other faiths. The absence of an authority also leads to divisions over doctrine and discipline, Cardinal Dulles pointed out.

Brazilian Cardinal Aloísio Lorscheider, archbishop of Aparecida, referred to the lessons to be drawn from the Jubilee year. In an interview Monday with the Parisian newspaper La Croix, he said he would ask for greater decentralization in Church government. But he did not mention the topic today.

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