Back in 2001, I got to visit the Centro Pro Unione in Rome, an ecumenical and interfaith research center run by the Garrison-based Society of the Atonement (Graymoor).
I had a nice long chat about the state of Christian unity with Father James F. Puglisi, who runs the center and has since become head of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement.
Earlier today, just a little while ago, in fact, the center hosted Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who gave a lecture for the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
(I got to have a nice talk with Kasper, too, when he visited Graymoor in 2002. He’s a very friendly and warm fellow.)
Among other things, Kasper (that’s him) said today:
In the last hundred years, which we commemorate this year, the ecumenical movement has made great progress. More important than individual results and the extensive production of ecumenical documents has been Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as Pope John Paul II told us Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the rediscovery of brotherhood among the Christians. Undoubtedly, we have not reached the goal of visible unity, we are still divided and sometimes new controversies arise. But what is also important is that a new atmosphere, a new climate, a network of friendship have emerged; the desire for full communion has matured and Christians in many parts of the world and often in the most difficult ones, give common witness not only through their words but through their deeds working for social justice, freedom and peace.
If you want more, here’s a transcript of Kasper’s entire speech:
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Ã¢â‚¬â€œ
Origin and Continuing Inspiration of the Ecumenical Movement
CARDINAL WALTER KASPER
The celebration of the Week of Prayer for the unity of all Christians in this year 2008 has its special momentum. We celebrate this year, so to speak, the 100th birthday of this yearly recurring event. At the same time we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the joint preparation of the materials for the Week of Prayer by the Commission of Faith and Order of the WCC together with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. And because all good things come in three, we also commemorate this year the memorable fact that 25 years ago, precisely during the Week of Prayer, Pope John Paul II beatified the Trappist nun Maria Gabriella of Unity, who sacrificed her whole life to meditation and prayer for the realisation of JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ own prayer Ã¢â‚¬Å“that all may be oneÃ¢â‚¬?.
This threefold anniversary gives me reason to reflect on the history and the binding legacy of the ecumenical movement, especially of the Week of Prayer and of spiritual ecumenism, and to reflect then on what spiritual ecumenism is all about and what is its momentum, particularly in our ecumenical situation which in many aspects is changing and at the beginning of the 21st century is on the threshold of a new phase of its history. Continue reading