1st Round of Applause Goes to Non-Catholic

Protestant Pastors Note Ecumenical Appeal of Synod

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The first round of applause for a speaker at the world Synod of Bishops was for a non-Catholic.

Reverend Robert Welsh, president of the Council of Christian Unity of Disciples of Christ, a Protestant pastor whose congregation is mainly present in the United States, spoke Thursday of his desire that the synod would be a renewal also for non-Catholics.

The theme of the synod, «The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,» he said, «is central to the life of the whole church, calling forth obedience in the church’s listening, obedience in our proclamation, and obedience in our responding to the Word of God made flesh for the sake and salvation of the whole world.»

According to this fraternal delegate: «Christian unity stands at the heart of the Gospel message; division within the body of Christ is a scandal before God and before the world.

«Our division at the table of the Eucharist stands as a continuing denial of the power of the cross to heal, to reconcile, and to unite all things on earth and all things in heaven.»

Welsh acknowledged his hope that «this synod will deepen its reflection on the relation between the Word of God, the Eucharist, and the unity of all Christians within the one body of Christ.»

He also noted his desire that «your work and discussion during this synod will explore more fully the relation between the Word of God and the church’s mission, especially in relation to the poor and the suffering, the oppressed and the marginalized.»

The ecumenical representative promised his prayers so that «this synod of bishops in your reflection on the Word of God will not only bring renewal to the life of the Catholic Church; but also, that this synod will truly serve the whole church in bringing renewal to the ecumenical movement and to all churches in our common calling to mission in the world.»

After Welsh, a retired Lutheran bishop, Reverend Gunnar Stalsett of Oslo, addressed the assembly, assuring that «the theme of the synod is truly ecumenical, it impacts all religions and has a message to the world.»

He also received a round of applause, the second of the assembly.

«The Roman Catholic-Lutheran dialogue has through more than 30 years contributed to the substance of the theme of the synod with such central issues as the doctrine of justification, the role of the ordained ministry and the nature of the church,» he noted.

«Globalization of anxiety and despair calls for globalization of salvation and hope,» Reverend Stalsett added. «Religious leaders are called to a ministry of peace and reconciliation.»

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