Mary as a Boost for Ecumenical Dialogue

A Waldensian’s View at the End of Forum on Mariology

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ROME, NOV. 25, 2002 ( Mary seems to have become a reason for dialogue, rather than division, among separated Christians.

That was a view that arose at the 3rd International Forum on Mariology, which closed Sunday in Lecco, Italy. The initiative, organized by the Pontifical Marian Academy, was encouraged by John Paul II.

In a telegram addressed to the participants, the Pope said he hoped the event would «inspire a renewed fervor of Mariological studies.»

During the meeting, the person of Mary was analyzed from the biblical, theological, spiritual, liturgical and ecumenical points of view. Thus, the Lecco forum continued the kind of ecumenical reflection about Mary promoted by the French Dombes Group of Catholic and Lutheran theologians.

Among the speakers in Lecco was professor Renzo Bertalot, pastor of the Waldensian Church, a dissident group with roots in 12th-century France.

Quoting Martin Luther, the pastor, who is also a consultor of the Marian Academy, spoke of the way Mary made God’s action possible through her listening.

Bertalot spoke with Vatican Radio today about the role Mary plays in the dialogue among separated Christians.

The «figure of Mary is the last of the five points that the present Pontiff proposes for ecumenical rethinking,» Bertalot said. «On this point, notable progress has been made, moving from opposition to convergence, that is, examining the points of difficulty and those that are being surmounted.»

The pastor said he agrees with the Dombes Group’s suggestion, which he summarized with a motto: «It is necessary for Protestants to discover Mary in the Bible, and for Catholics to discover the Bible in Mary.»

According to the pastor, Mary’s example constitutes a message for people of our time.

«Mary,» he said, «on her way to Elizabeth’s home, can tell us not to lose sight of our salvation, not be discouraged by the conditions of our time because, among other things, Mary also experienced them, [for instance,] the flight to Egypt.»

«Mary always gives us the message not to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by all this and to put the promise to Abraham as a point of departure, which in any case is being realized,» Bertalot added. «More than that, for us it is fulfilled.

«So we are able to experience the joy expressed in the Magnificat, which shows us the horizon of the Kingdom of God that is coming, and not the kingdom of confusion in which we find ourselves today. It is an answer to the despair of our time.»

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