Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cardinal Kasper: . . .

Cardinal Kasper: Document Invites Dialogue

Defines Position of Catholic Church

VATICAN CITY, JULY 12, 2007 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity calls the document on the nature of the Church, published by the doctrinal congregation, an "invitation to dialogue."

The June 29 document "Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church" from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith caused an initial "heated reaction among Protestant Christians," Cardinal William Kasper said.

But he hopes "a second, more peaceful reading could show that the document is not saying anything new, but explains, in a synthetic way, the position of the Catholic Church."

In a statement released to ZENIT, Cardinal Kasper stated: "This is not a new development and therefore there is no reason for resentment or to feel as if they have been treated offhandedly. Dialogue presupposes clarity on differing positions."

After the document's publication, Pastor Thomas Wipf, president of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe -- with 105 Lutheran, Reformed, United, Methodist member churches on the continent -- declared that "this kind of document sends the wrong signals."

"The challenges of this world call out for churches to work together. Communion is not an ideal, it is our task," he added, according to the NEV evangelical news agency.

ICN-News reported a reaction from the secretary-general of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Setri Nyomi, who wrote to Cardinal Kasper, "Let us pray so that the Catholic Church gets beyond exclusivist pretexts, so that the cause for Christian unity may go forward."

Defined positions

Howev! er, Cardinal Kasper affirmed that "ecumenism from 'defined positions,'" has been requested from Protestants as well.

"Now, the present declaration puts forth the Catholic position, that is to say, that which from the Catholic point of view still divides us," the president of the pontifical council said. "This does not limit dialogue, but rather favors it.

"An attentive reading of the text shows that the document does not say that Protestant churches are not churches, but that they are not churches in the proper sense, that is, they are not churches in the sense in which the Catholic Church defines Church."

Cardinal Kasper affirmed that "according to Catholic doctrine," as the document explains, "these communities do not have apostolic succession in the sacrament of holy orders, and therefore lack an essential element of being a Church."

He added: "The so-called ecclesial comm! unities, that, because of the lack of ministerial priesthood, have not conserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic ministry, cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the true sense."

The declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "shows that we use the word Church, giving it a meaning that is not fully equal," the 74-year old cardinal said.

"The declaration serves to give clarity to the dialogue process," Cardinal Kasper continued. "Without a doubt, at the heart of dialogue there is not that which divides us, but that which unites us, which is greater than what divides us.

"Therefore, the declaration is not a step backward with respect to ecumenical progress already achieved. […] It is an urgent invitation to continue peaceful dialogue."

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