Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pope: crisis of faith, a challenge even for Ecumenism

The ecumenical commitment has borne "quite a few good fruit", but runs "the risk of a false irenicism and indifference," that is of becoming, a search for "rules for a praxis capable of improving the world." 

"The center of true ecumenism, however, is the faith in which man finds the truth that is revealed in the word of God" and the unity of Christians is "a means and almost a prerequisite to announce the faith in an increasingly credible manner", especially at this time, in which "the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame without fuel in large parts of the world”.

The meeting this morning with the participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave Benedict XVI the opportunity to return once again to highlighting the timing and problems of the ecumenical journey, just a few days after the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for 'Christian unity. 

A theme that Benedict XVI and his congregation have faced in prospect of the Year of the faith.

"We are facing a deep crisis of faith, - once again said the pope - a loss of religious meaning, which is the biggest challenge for the Church today. The renewal of the faith must be the priority in the commitment of the whole Church. "

"The theme of Christian unity is closely connected with this task." 

"Today, we see quite a few good fruit from ecumenical dialogues, but we must also recognize that the risk of a false irenicism and indifference, quite alien to the mind of Vatican II, which demands our vigilance. This indifference is caused by the increasingly widespread view that the truth is not accessible to man, and therefore there is a need to find rules for a praxis capable of improving the world. So then faith would be replaced by a moralism without any deep foundation. The center of true ecumenism, however, is the faith in which man finds the truth that is revealed in the word of God. Without faith the whole ecumenical movement would be reduced to a form of "social contract" adhered to in a common interest."

"The logic of Vatican II is completely different: the sincere search for full unity of all Christians is a dynamic, animated by the Word of God."

"The crucial issue, which marks all ecumenical dialogue, is the question of the structure of revelation - the relationship between Scripture and tradition alive in the Holy Church and the ministry of the successors of the Apostles as witnesses of the true faith. The discernment between Tradition and traditions is critical. " 

In this regard, the Pope said that "an important step in this discernment" was made in the measures for groups of faithful coming from Anglicanism, who enter the Catholic Church, "while preserving their own spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions which comply the Catholic faith." 

"There is, in fact, a spiritual richness in the various Christian denominations, which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to share."

"Today, then, is one of the fundamental issues raised by the problem of the methods adopted in the various ecumenical dialogues. They too must reflect the priority of faith. Knowing that the truth is the right interlocutor in any real dialogue." 

"In this sense, we must address the controversial issues with courage, always in the spirit of brotherhood and mutual respect."

Study documents also have "great importance", but "they must be recognized in their true significance as contributions to the competent Church Authorities, which alone are called to judge them in a definitive way. Ascribing a binding or conclusive weight to these texts regarding the thorny issues of dialogue, without proper evaluation by the Church, ultimately, would not help the path towards full unity in faith”.

The last issue addressed by Benedict XVI was "the moral issue, which constitutes a new challenge for the ecumenical journey. In dialogue we can not ignore the great moral questions about human life, family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace. It would be important to talk about these issues with one voice, drawing on the basis in Scripture and the living tradition of the Church. This tradition helps us to decipher the language of the Creator in His creation. By defending the fundamental values of the great tradition of the Church, we defend mankind, we defend creation. "