Question of Identity Is a Challenge in Ecumenism, Says Cardinal Kasper

Surveys the State of Relations With Other Christians

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DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 22, 2004 ( Cardinal Walter Kasper posed an inward-looking question when addressing a mixed group of Christians who were reviewing the results of ecumenism over the past few years.

«Who are we?» the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity asked last Saturday at Trinity College in Dublin.

«Christian identity is an identity of love, an open identity able to talk and share with others,» the cardinal said.

Yet he insisted: «There can be no dialogue with people who do not have a clear idea of their own identity.»

Cardinal Kasper said that the solution is in knowing who we are, and this means «the initiation and catechesis of youths and adults.»

He also mentioned some of the milestones achieved with the Orthodox, saying that «there is not always consensus, but we make progress.»

«The dialogue of love exists,» he said. «The greatest challenge for present-day theology is the ‘koinonia,’ or communion, as well as the Petrine ministry.»

With reference to Protestantism, the cardinal said: «We Catholics have learned much from our brothers of the Reformation, especially in Bible reading.»

The cardinal mentioned that ecumenism has been practiced for a long time in biblical studies, given that «in exegesis there are no limits or borders.»

He was less optimistic about recent events within Anglican circles, saying that he was «worried about the divisions and the ethical questions involved.» He added: «In ecumenism, if someone has problems, we have problems.»

Meanwhile, he said that Europe’s enlargement to the East «can be very positive» since «there are many political elements that unite us with the Orthodox, such as the affirmation of Europe’s Christian roots.»

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