Christian Unity Has Sole Basis in Christ, Says Cardinal

At Close of Week of Prayer

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ROME, JAN. 26, 2005 ( In a society where everything is “relative,” the solid foundation of Jesus Christ is necessary, said a Vatican official at the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presided over the celebration of vespers Tuesday in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, to close out the week of prayer.

Attendees at the ceremony included representatives of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Lutheran Church, the Orthodox Coptic Church, and the Anglican Church — all praying at different moments of the ecumenical meeting.

Christ, said Cardinal Kasper, is “the only foundation on which the Church has been built,” and to be founded on him “implies the profession of faith in the ‘Church, one and holy,’ and excludes divisions.”

“Through the one baptism we are all in Christ. ‘Unitatis redintegratio,’ namely, the restoration of unity, is therefore one of the priority tasks of the Church,” the Vatican official said.

Regarding the ecumenical movement, Cardinal Kasper said that “at times the initial drive seems to run the risk of falling into lethargy, and of losing its credibility. On one hand, signs of reticence and resistance emerge and, on the other, signs of resignation and frustration.”

Given this situation, there is no lack of proposals to “revise the methods, change the structures, integrate new members, examine urgent questions, including relaunching a reflection on our intentions, objectives and agenda,” he continued.

In the face of these suggestions, “to a degree reasonable and relevant,” Cardinal Kasper believes that it is better to follow the proposal of St. Paul, who said that “a good architect” “does not begin with the roof or the exterior structure, but begins with the foundations.”

“Only a solid foundation, which is not built on sand but on rock, according to Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, makes the house solid, which will not fall when the elements are unleashed,” the cardinal added.

No one can lay down a foundation other than the one that is already there — Jesus Christ, the prelate said. The response to the new challenges is, therefore, “a response of faith and a spiritual response, namely, a response rooted in life and in the spirit of Christ.”

The cardinal explained that the objective of the ecumenical commitment is “the common missionary witness, which professes that salvation is only in the name of Jesus Christ, before a world that still does not know him or that no longer knows him.”

Christ is therefore not only the foundation but also the end of this type of commitment, he concluded.

Cardinal Kasper acknowledged that this reality is not understood by all. And because of this, in a society in which “everything has become relative and arbitrary, and each one creates his own religion a la carte, we need a solid foundation and a common point of reference, which is trustworthy, in our personal lives and in our ecumenical work.”

“And what foundation could we have if not Jesus Christ?” the cardinal asked. “Who better than he can guide us? Who better than he can give us light and hope? Where if not in him can we find words of life?

"Let us therefore ask the Lord to make good architects of us and grant us strength and spiritual wisdom, courage, patience and hope.”

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