German Evangelical Leader Impressed by Pope John Paul II

Ecumenical Relations With Church Evolving

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ROME, AUG. 26, 2004 ( Bishop Wolfgang Huber, president of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, concluded a three-day visit to the Vatican on Wednesday with a positive assessment.

John Paul II received the bishop in the summer papal residence of Castel Gandolfo, «a meeting which impressed me a lot,» he said.

«I remembered the 1996 meeting, on the occasion of the papal visit to Germany. That visit was an important cornerstone in the ecumenical relations between our Churches,» he explained on Vatican Radio.

«This meeting becomes an important element in the evolution of ecumenical relations, though the conversation did not have the objective of resolving problems of an ecumenical character, which continue open. This would not be possible in such a brief dialogue!” he continued.

«Not only did the Pope give me his words, he gave me a real gift: a pectoral cross, made for the 25th anniversary of his pontificate. This has impressed me profoundly,» the bishop said.

«We asked from one another the Lord’s blessing for our path, for our ministry. I carry in my heart the Pope’s open and attentive eyes. I will never forget them,» he added.

In regard to his country, the pastor said that «in Germany we are feeling very intensely that there is no alternative to ecumenism. This is why we give great consideration to the good state that the ecumenical dialogue has reached,» he stressed.

«We have learned that we cannot expect rapid progress in still open questions and that it is necessary to proceed with much prudence, as well as with the necessary ecumenical ‘impatience,'» he continued.

«I believe that beyond the clarifications attained in the realm of the theological dialogue, we can expect certain progress because of the way in which we mutually respect one another and consider one another’s ministry,» he explained.

Finally, the evangelical pastor commented on «the great commitment shown by the Roman Curia in the definition of the Roman Catholic Church.»

«We, as an evangelical church, must now reflect on what we must do to attain the identity and comprehension, the awareness of our profile and respect and consideration of the other’s profile, so that this can be a new bond for our two Churches,» Bishop Huber concluded.

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