BARI, Italy, MAY 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican representative for ecumenism proposed a synod of reconciliation to the Orthodox and an alliance with the offspring of the Protestant Reformation to rediscover the Christian roots of Europe.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, made the proposals Wednesday when addressing the Italian National Eucharistic Congress.
The cardinal was joined in the ceremony by Orthodox Archbishop Kirill of Yaroslavl and Rostov of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Lutheran Bishop Eero Huovinen of Helsinki, Finland.
Cardinal Kasper began his address by recalling that in Bari a synod of Greek and Latin bishops took place in 1098.
“Why not hope that here, in Bari, 1,000 years after the synod of 1098, in 2098 — and why not before? We might again celebrate a synod of Greek and Latin bishops, a synod of reconciliation,” he said.
“I am profoundly convinced that, after the great efforts and important steps taken by John Paul II, the new Pope Benedict XVI will smooth and open the way for such a prospect,” the cardinal added.
Threatened by secularism
Cardinal Kasper acknowledged that Orthodox and Catholics are “heirs of a common European culture and we have the same ethical values, which are essentially for the good of our societies and their people.”
“But those values are seriously threatened, both by the secularism in Western Europe as well as the profound lacerations caused in Eastern Europe by 40 or 70 years of propaganda and atheistic education,” he observed.
“What can be more obvious or urgent than, as the next step in the long road toward full communion, we form an alliance to rediscover the Christian roots of Europe?” the Vatican official asked.
He described such an alliance as designed “to help one another mutually in favor of common values, of a culture of life, of the dignity of the person, of solidarity and social justice, of peace and the safeguarding of creation.”
Cardinal Kasper also presented this “alliance” to Protestant brothers who face this same challenge.
In addition, he addressed the question of the Petrine ministry, of the Bishop of Rome, which is one of the difficulties for progress toward full unity.
In this connection, the cardinal echoed John Paul II’s proposal in the 1995 encyclical “Ut Unum Sint” “to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation.”
“What is impeding us from starting today, here in Bari, to discuss this proposal?” the cardinal asked those present. “Why not reflect together on an osmosis between the principle of synodality and collegiality and the Petrine principle, which, precisely in past weeks, has shown its spiritual strength?”