VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II urged bishops to foster a “healthy ecumenism,” an authentic dialogue that does not make concessions to truth with Christian denominations.
The Pope made his appeal Saturday when he received a group of bishops of northeastern Brazil who were concluding their once-every-five-year “ad limina” visit to the Vatican.
The Holy Father asked the prelates to be faithful to the magisterium of the Church. Their country has the largest number of Catholics but has also seen a marked increase in Christian fundamentalist communities.
In the hope of supporting the bishops’ efforts “to establish the bases for a healthy ecumenism,” the Pope reminded them of the “Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism,” published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which affirms that “diversity in the Church is a dimension of its catholicity.”
However, “this must not lead to a certain indifferentism that, by a false irenicism, puts all opinions on the same level,” the Pope said.
“I hope that the effort of Christian communities to attain the much longed-for unity will always be founded on the truth,” he added.
At the same time, John Paul II explained that there “cannot be incompatibility between the affirmation of an unconditional adherence to the truth of Jesus Christ and respect for consciences.”
“If religion is not only a question of conscience, but also of free adherence to the truth, which may or may not be accepted, its content cannot be compromised,” the Pope continued. “This is why it is necessary to illustrate it, without neglecting the elements contained in revealed facts.”
“Thus, the importance of your effort can be understood to have formators who are able to guarantee maximum fidelity to theological teaching,” the Holy Father stressed.
The Pontiff said that “the best service given to the cause of ecumenism will be offered when the catechesis for adults or young people offers profound education in freedom.”
“When a Christian lives his faith integrally, he is a pole of attraction, inspires confidence and respect; he never imposes his religious convictions, but knows how to transmit the truth without disappointing those who trust in him. He gives way to people without ever compromising with error,” the Holy Father stressed.
John Paul II told the Brazilian bishops that he counts on them in the “spirituality of communion and fidelity to the See of Peter.”
“The integrity of the faith, together with ecclesial discipline, is and will always be a subject that will call for attention and care on the part of all, especially when it is a question of discerning that ‘only one faith and one baptism’ exist,” the Pope concluded.