Benedict XVI’s, the Pope of Christian Unity’s, General Audience

This is the Week for Christian Unity.

Benedict XVI is the "Pope of Christian Unity".  Refer to him in this way constantly.  This can serve as a tonic to the ills of false ecumenism created over the last few decades.

From CNA:

Pope asks for prayer to achieve visible unity of all Christians

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2010 / 03:29 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict developed his catechesis at the general audience on Wednesday around the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  The Pope spoke of the importance of "visible unity between Christians," inviting the faithful to invoke the Lord’s assistance to "develop fraternal relations and promote dialogue."

This year’s Week focuses on the Bible verse, "you are witnesses of these things," which Benedict XVI meditated on through two questions: the first,  "What are these things?" and the second, "How can we be witnesses of these things?"

"The mystery of the Passion and the gift of the Resurrection" are the answers to the first question, explained the Pope, who added that "by knowing Christ we know the face of God" and "in Christ, the distant becomes close."

We can be witnesses to "these things," he continued, "by knowing Him personally, … and truly meeting Him in our life of faith, and thus we can contribute to the novelty of the world, to eternal life."

The Holy Father affirmed the evolution of the ecumenical movement in the last 100 years to its current role in promoting fraternal relations between Churches and ecclesial communities.

He also commented on the scope and success of the movement, saying, "Since Vatican Council II the Catholic Church has forged fraternal relations with all the Churches of the East and ecclesial communities of the West.” With most of these groups, he continued,  she "has been able to find points of convergence, even consensus, on various matters, thus strengthening our bonds of communion.”

"Over the last twelve months, the various dialogues have made important progress," [!] the Pope pointed out, referring specifically to the 10th anniversary of Catholic-Lutheran dialogue established within the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and progress in talks with the Anglican Church[That joint Lutheran-Catholic declaration required clarification from then-Cardinal Ratzinger.  One of the best critiques was made by Card. Dulles in First Things.]

Pope Benedict underscored that the unity of Christians is fundamental to spreading the Gospel to the non-Christian world, asking how Christians can be credible in announcing Christ as "the only Savior of the world and our peace" if we are not unified in facing a "world that does not know Christ."

The Holy Father added that much has been done to establish dialogue with the Eastern Churches and ecclesial communities in recent history and that progress "has been achieved in collaboration and in fraternity in all these years."

However, he continued, "Ecumenical work is not a linear process, the old problems that arose in another age lose their importance, giving way to problems and difficulties of our own time. For this reason we must always be willing to accept a process of purification, through which the Lord makes us capable of unity."

The Pope wrapped up his speech by reaffirming the need for a shared witness to Christ and inviting prayer "for the complex ecumenical reality (and) for the promotion of dialogue."

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. stbasil777 says:

    A question I have always had is what does “visible unity” mean? Does that mean that while we continue to have substantial differences in belief and practice that we talk to each other and are willing to attend each others worship? Does it mean something more? Less?

    I think for most people interested in ecumenism, “visible unity” means that we all get along and sing happy songs together. I do not think most people interpret it as meaning conversion to the Catholic Faith – which is why I think the Anglican provisions caused such uproar.

    I do think we need to be honest and say by “visible unity” we mean unity under the See of Rome in the Catholic Faith. To that end what value is the Lutheran-Catholic declaration? It seems to be just a stepping stone toward that end but is not an end in itself.

    Christ’s peace to you.

  2. Father G says:

    Yes, I have been refering to His Holineess as the “Pope of Christian Unity” ever since you first mentioned it.

  3. Ceile De says:

    Wait till we hear the fallout over referring to the Eastern “Churches” but Western “eccesial communities”!

  4. Let us start with one basic question: Is contraception a mortal sin? Grave matter? In the FSSP and the SSPX it is mortally sinful. 93% of “Catholics” of child-bearing age are contracepting in the U.S. Now let us start again with the subject of unity.

  5. Ogard says:

    With due respect to the contributors, I think that without a thorough knowledge of Decree on Ecumenism the comments are out of place. The Decree is not all that long, but does require an effort, and it is rewarding once one has reached a satisfactory grasp of it. Why not try ? After all, it is a decree of an ecumenical council, and binding us in conscience.

  6. Penta says:

    Because, Ogard: Half the fun of commenting is never having read the decrees at issue! (I’m kidding. Go read the thing.)

Comments are closed.