Vatican’s top ecumenist criticizes mistaken ideas about dialogue
By Sarah MacDonald
Catholic News Service
MAYNOOTH, Ireland - The Vatican’s top ecumenist expressed regret June 8 at the mistaken impression that Protestants are honest in ecumenical dialogue and Catholics are not.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, suggested that the impression stems from the willingness of many Protestant churches to welcome all to the Lord’s Supper.
The cardinal said there were some Reformed churches in Western Europe where baptism was not a condition for participation in the Eucharist.
“I think that is a very dangerous development because baptism and ritual recognition of baptism (are) the basis of all ecumenical endeavors,” he added.
Cardinal Koch made his comments following his address on “The Relation Between the Eucharist and Ecclesial Communion: An Ecumenical View” at the International Theology Symposium in Maynooth. The symposium preceded the June 10 opening of the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
In his address, Cardinal Koch described the relationship between the Eucharist and the church as very important from the ecumenical perspective.
“When we speak about the Eucharist, the ecumenical dimension is always present,” he said.
Speaking afterward to reporters, he said the view of the relationship between the ecclesial and eucharistic communion is very different in the other churches.
“It is very important to clarify the position of the Catholic Church and the position of the other churches and deepen the discussion on this for the future,” he said.
The cardinal told delegates that it was important to understand why Catholics sought the restoration of ecclesial communion in the first instance and not “so-called inter-Communion.”
Quoting Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, Germany, he said the shared supper belonged “at the end and not at the beginning of ecumenical endeavors.”
Cardinal Koch told Catholic News Service that the ecumenical dialogue with Anglicans was “very important” and that the Vatican would seek to “deepen this dialogue” with the Anglican Communion.
The Swiss prelate said the fundamental challenge to those involved in ecumenical dialogue was “what is the call of the ecumenical movement” and finding a new consensus on the goal of ecumenism.
Cardinal Koch refused to comment on claims by the head of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, that talks with the Vatican demonstrated that “Rome no longer makes total acceptance” of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council a condition for his traditionalist group’s full reconciliation with the church.
The cardinal said discussions with the society were ongoing.
“During these discussions I will not speak about them,” he said. “At the end of the discussions, the Holy Father will decide.”
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops