State of Ecumenism “Ambiguous,” Says Cardinal Kasper

ROME, MARCH 2, 2003 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity says the state of ecumenism is “ambiguous.”

“On one hand, much has been attained; there is emphasis on seeing what unites Christians and not on what separates them,” Cardinal Walter Kasper explained.

Yet, “there are currents that see ecumenism in crisis or in a state of hibernation,” he added.

The cardinal made his comments Feb. 25 at the inauguration of the chair of ecumenical studies dedicated to Dominican Jean-Marie Tillard, a leading proponent of the post-conciliar ecumenical movement.

The new chair, the first of its kind, has its headquarters at the Dominican-run University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum. For 20 years the school has offered a specialization in ecumenical studies. It also has an Ecumenical Institute in Bari, Italy.

Cardinal Kasper referred to Father Tillard (1927-2000) as “a friend and a person profoundly committed to ecumenism.”

The Vatican official commented that “ecumenism cannot just be academic,” and pointed out the need for a “spiritual ecumenism” and acceptance of it in the Church.

“Ecumenism is not a one-way street,” he said, “but an exchange of gifts.”