Cardinal Walter Kasper's response

Vatican City, Dec.05, 2007 (CINS /Chiesa) – Eight days before it was published on the last day of November, Benedict XVI had announced the release of the encyclical on hope, "Spe Salvi," to the cardinals gathered in Rome from all over the world, at the meeting that opened the consistory.

For many of them, the announcement came as a surprise.

But the topic at the center of the discussion was not that of the encyclical, but the current state of ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the other Christian confessions.

The cardinals' meeting with the pope took up the entire day of Friday, November 23. Benedict XVI entrusted the task of introducing the discussion to cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the pontifical council for Christian unity.

17 other cardinals spoke after Kasper's address. The meeting was held behind closed doors, but the Holy See press office, in a concise summary, related that some of the speakers indicated the implementation of the Church's social doctrine and the defense of life and the family as some of the more promising areas for ecumenism. Others proposed continuing with the "purification of memory." Still others asked for greater attention in using "forms of communication more attentive to not wounding the sensibility of other Christians."

This last request was also presented in Kasper's address. Referring to the "Five responses" published last July by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, the cardinal had noted that these "have raised perplexity and have occasioned a certain discontent" in some Christian confessions, especially among the Protestants. And he added:

"It is to be hoped that the form, language, and public presentation of such declarations could be reviewed."

After the midday break, another 16 cardinals spoke that afternoon.

Some expanded the attention to relations with the Jews and with Islam. There was talk about the "encouraging sign" represented by the letter of the 138 Muslim personalities, and by the visit of the king of Saudi Arabia to the Holy Father.

And in this regard, a few days later a letter was made public from the cardinal secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, to Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, with the announcement of a future audience between the pope and the prince, together with some of the signatories of the letter of the 138, and of an agenda of dialogue "on effective respect for the dignity of every human person, on objective knowledge of the religion of the other, on the sharing of religious experience and, finally, on common commitment to promoting mutual respect and acceptance among the younger generation".

A brief response from Cardinal Kasper on a few particular points and a speech by the pope concluded the day.

The Holy See press office has not put Kasper's address online, nor can it be found on the Vatican website. But it was printed in "L'Osservatore Romano" the following day.

In any case, it makes for very interesting reading. Because it clearly describes – on the part of someone with authority on the subject – the current state of ecumenical relations, in this order:

– with the pre-Chalcedonian Eastern Churches;
– with the Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine, Syrian, and Slavic traditions;
– with the ecclesial Communities born of the Protestant Reformation;
– with the "evangelical" Communities;
– with the Charismatic and Pentecostal Communities.

Kasper accompanies this diagnosis with indications on how to continue this journey fruitfully.

"Pray for Us. Pray for Iraq" - Cardinal Delly

Vatican City, Nov 28, 2007 (CINS /CNA).- At a Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica on Saturday elevating twenty-three clerics to the cardinalate, Pope Benedict XVI created the first Iraqi cardinal, VOA News reports.

The Pope expressed special concern for all Iraqis in his sermon. He said that by calling the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church Emmanuel Delly to the College of Cardinal s he wanted to express his spiritual closeness and affection for the Iraqi people. He called for the Church to reaffirm her solidarity with Iraqi Christians and asked God to bring peace and reconciliation to all Iraqis.

After the Mass, Cardinal Delly told well-wishers in Saint Peter's Square that it was a very happy day for him and "for all people, especially for Iraq." He repeated the Pope's call for prayer, saying "pray for us, pray for Iraq and for [the] population of Iraq."

The Chaldeans, who have one of the most ancient rites of the Church, are Iraq's largest Christian group but their numbers are in decline. Many Iraqi Christians have fled the country since the war began in 2003 to escape the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Several Iraqi churches have been bombed and priests have been among those kidnapped and killed.

Cardinal DiNardo: Annapolis summit, an opportunity that can't be missed

- The recently created Cardinal Daniel N.DiNardo has said in an interview that both the Israelis and the Palestinians need to treat tomorrow's Annapolis peace summit as an “opportunity that cannot be missed”.

In an interview to be published in tomorrow's daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who was made a cardinal this past Saturday, said that the Church in the US is responding to the Pope’s call to pray for the fruits of the Annapolis summit. The conference will bring together Jews, Palestinians and Syrians for peace talks.

DiNardo related that, “parish communities as well as individual Catholics are praying, at the request of the bishops, so that the summit will become a concrete opportunity for peace between the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.”

Cardinal DiNardo said that prayer “has a great value, especially for the future. We have been called to persevere in prayer, trusting in God our hope for peace to come in the next weeks and months.  We hope that the conference of Annapolis may promote further fruitful dialogues for peace in the region.”

During the interview, Cardinal DiNardo also said that his appointment as cardinal was received “with gratitude, stun and surprise. For Texas it has been a great joy, which crowns the explosive growth of the local Church in the last 20 years.”

Pope urges 23 new Cardinals to be “servants” of love

Vatican City, Nov.24,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church has 23 new Cardinal s.  A suggestive ceremony, comprising over 100 crimson robed cardinals and hundreds of bishops, to the tones of Latin formulae and song marked there entrance into what was once referred to as the Roman clergy and what today represents the universality of the Church.  Love, dedication, loyalty, service: these are the virtues which the Pope said must characterise the works of those whose very vestments symbolise the commitment to serving the Gospel “to the spilling of blood”, as is recited in the Latin formula which they all swear.

This vocation was made all the more poignant by both Benedict XVI and newly elected cardinal Leonardo Sandri in their addresses, when they evoked the sufferance of Christians across the world but especially in Iraq, the violation of religious freedom and the offences against human dignity.

A solemn ceremony held in St Peter’s basilica marked Benedict XVI’s second Public Ordinary Consistory for the creation of cardinals – as it is officially referred to.  A rite during which the Pope “creates” a new cardinal and bestows on him the biretta, that is the cardinals hat as well as his “title” or titular Church which is found in Rome.  Thus they formally become part of the Roman Clergy whose duty it is to elect the pope.  Tomorrow, during the mass which the newly created cardinals will celebrate together with Benedict XVI, they will be given their cardinal’s ring.

Today as the Pope noted, “times have changed and the great family of Christ’s disciples are spread throughout the continents”.  “The diversity of the members of the College of Cardinal s – he continued – by their geographic and cultural origin highlight this while at the same time they underline the changing pastoral demands to which the Pope must respond.  The universality, the Catholicity of the Church is well mirrored in the College of Cardinal s”.  In fact, with the new appointments it is composed of 201 members, 120 of whom, having yet to turn 80, could take part in conclave to elect a new pope.  Of the 201 cardinals, 104 are European, 20 North American, 34 South American, 18 African, 21 Asian, and 4 from Oceania.  The Asian come from India (6), Philippines (3), Vietnam (2), Korea (2).  Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Syria, China, Taiwan, Lebanon and Iraq have one each.  Two of the new cardinals are from Asia, Oswald Gracias and Iraqi Emmanuel III Delly.

In reference to the latter, the Pope spoke of “Iraq’s dear Christian communities”. “These brothers and sisters in the faith – he continued –are feeling with their own flesh the dramatic consequences of an enduring conflict.  By calling the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church to enter into the College of Cardinal s – he added – I intend to my spiritual closeness and affection for that population.  Let us together reaffirm the solidarity of the whole Church with the Christians of that beloved land and invoke from the merciful God the coming of longed-for reconciliation and peace for all the peoples involved”. Shortly before, Card. Sandri had also evoked the “tears and blood” and the “painful exodus of the many Christians from which Abraham once departed”.

Benedict XVI reminded all of the newly created cardinals that “every true disciple of Christ may aspire to one thing only: the sharing of Christ’s passion, without any claim to recompense. The Christian is called to assume the condition of the servant, following in the footsteps of Jesus that is, freely and disinterestedly spending his whole life for others. It is not the quest for power and success, but the humble gift of self for the good of the Church that must characterise all our actions and every one of our words. True Christian greatness consists not in domination, but in service”.

“Dear brothers –he then said- in becoming part of the College of Cardinal s, God asks of you and entrusts you the service of love: love for God, for His Church, for your brothers and sisters with the maximum dedication, usque ad sanguinis effusionem, as the formula for the imposition of the biretta reads and as the crimson colour of your vestments show.  You are the Apostles of God who is Love and witnesses of evangelical hope: this is what the Christian community expects from you”.



Cardinal Walter Kasper on Ravenna Final Document

The Vatican’s Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity will issue the final document from the October Ravenna meeting of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, entitled: “The Ecclesiological and Canonical consequences of the Sacramental nature of the Church”.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican Council who led the Catholic delegation at the meeting spoke to us about the main issues contained in the document. Countering recent speculation that it deals with the question of primacy, he described recent advances in Orthodox Catholic relations as a first step in a long road:

“Now the real breakthrough is that for the first time the orthodox were ready to speak about the universal level of the church and also on the universal level we have synodality of course, but also an authority – it means a primate which is of course according to the old order- the taxis of the ancient church, the bishop of Rome”.

But continued the Cardinal “we must be clear this is only a first step, this is only a basis, it does not solve all of the problems which are between the orthodox and the Catholic Church, we have to go on to clarify the details, we will speak next time about the role of the bishop of Rome, in the first millennium, then we have to go on to the second millennium where we have the first and second Vatican Council”. “This” – concludes Cardinal Kasper – “will not be an easy dialogue and then we can see where we will be after these steps…and this will be a long probably humanly speaking, a long and also a difficult way but not to exaggerate what we have achieved now its important a first step a basis not more and we hope with god’s help and prayers of many faithful we can go on this ecumenical pilgrimage with the orthodox churches”.

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