KINGSTON, Ontario, MARCH 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The goal of ecumenism is union with the Catholic Church, a union that transforms the Church by enriching it, the leader of the Vatican’s faith congregation says.
Cardinal William Levada explained this when he gave a speech Saturday at Queen’s University on “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” the document which paves the way for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church in groups. A non-official transcription of the talk was provided by Salt and Light Television.
The cardinal noted how for many Anglicans, “Anglicanorum Coetibus” is something of a logical development in the work that has been carried out in ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics since the Second Vatican Council.
Cardinal Levada gave a summary of this work done by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). The conclusions reached by the first commission were approved by both Anglican authorities and by the Vatican.
“As a result of the work of ARCIC I, hopes ran high in ecumenical circles,” the cardinal said. “Many Anglicans and Catholics saw in the agreed statements a path leading to the recognition of a common expression of their own faith.”
However, further obstacles lay in store for Anglicans, as the Communion began to go forward with the ordination of women and later, with the approval of homosexual activity.
The crux of these two issues, Cardinal Levada observed, really is in the question of authority, particularly in two points: Does the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and in Scripture intend to let us know God’s will in a way that requires our obedience? And secondly, has God, in Christ, left his Church, an authority by which it can assure that it can know the correct meaning of revelation, amid sometimes varying human interpretations?
In this context, the cardinal explained, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and Benedict XVI “approved the establishment of ARCIC III, which has for its mandate to continue the bilateral dialogue, with the theme ‘Church as Communion — Local and Universal,’ including the discernment of ethical questions on these two levels and the interaction between them.”
The second part of Cardinal Levada’s talk focused on what ecumenism is really about.
“Union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism,” he said.
He added that the “very process of working towards union works a change in churches and ecclesial communities that engage one another in dialogue, in actual instances of entering into communion do indeed transform the Catholic Church by way of enrichment. Let me add right away that when I say enrichment I am referring not to any addition of essential elements of sanctification and truth to the Catholic Church. Christ has endowed her with all the essential elements. I am referring to the addition of modes of expression of these essential elements, modes which enhance everyone’s appreciation of the inexhaustible treasures bestowed on the Church by her divine founder.”
Hence, the prelate explained “what is new is that perennial truths and elements of holiness already found in the Catholic Church are given new focus, or a different stress by the way they are lived by various groups of the faithful who are called by Christ to come together in perfect communion with one another, enjoying the bonds of creed, code, cult and charity, in diverse ways that blend harmoniously.”
The leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith went on to say that it can be fully expected that “while we may accurately know what can be truthfully said, the full knowledge of what that means is enhanced by the contemplation of many groups of people on the same mystery.”
In the cardinal’s extensive explanation of ecumenism, he used the symbol of an orchestra.
“[V]isible union with the Catholic Church can be compared to an orchestral ensemble,” he said. “Some instruments can play all the notes, like a piano. There is no note that a piano has that a violin or a harp or a flute or a tuba does not have. But when all these instruments play the notes that the piano has, the notes are enriched and enhanced. The result is symphonic, full communion. One can perhaps say that the ecumenical movement wishes to move from cacophony to symphony, with all playing the same notes of doctrinal clarity, the same euphonic chords of sanctifying activity, observing the rhythm of Christian conduct in charity, and filling the world with the beautiful and inviting sound of the Word of God.
“While the other instruments may tune themselves according to the piano, when playing in concert there is no mistaking them for the piano. It is God’s will that those to whom the Word of God is addressed, the world, that is, should hear one pleasing melody made splendid by the contributions of many different instruments.”
Cardinal Levada went on to offer concrete examples of these contributions, noting examples from the Orthodox Church, those of the Reformation, and, of course, the Anglican Communion.