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WITTENBERG, Germany (RNS/ENI) The Vatican official responsible for links with other churches has rejected suggestions of a “standstill” in the search for Christian unity.
“There has already been a lot of movement,” said Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. “I hope that there can be even more movement for the unity of the church, the cohesion of Christianity, and for common witness.”
In Wittenberg, the spiritual birthplace of the Protestant Reformation, Kasper attended a ceremony seeking closer ties between Catholics and other Christians.
“We have learned a lot in the last 50 years,” noted Kasper, a former professor of theology in Germany. “At the university I spent a lot of time teaching about Martin Luther, and I have learned from that experience too.”
Kasper was asked about comments by Bishop Wolfgang Huber, who retired at the end of October as Germany’s senior Protestant bishop, in which he said the Vatican had created “difficulties” for ecumenical dialogue in the past decade.
“Well, we caused each other difficulties,” said Kasper, laughing.
“Difficulties are sometimes from the one side and sometimes from the other, one should not overrate them. The basics, the direction is right and we should jointly continue the course.”
The Wittenberg event followed celebrations in Augsburg the previous day to mark the 10th anniversary of the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church signing an agreement about the doctrine of justification, a central point of contention at the time of the 16th-century Reformation.
At the 10th anniversary celebrations in Augsburg, Kasper had described the joint declaration as a sign of the workings of the Holy Spirit. “We cannot be thankful enough for that and for many, many other steps that have been possible since,” he said in a sermon at Augsburg Cathedral, the city where the declaration had been signed 10 years earlier. In 2006, the Methodist World Council also affirmed the joint declaration.
“The godless complain about the supposed standstill in the ecumenical movement and the miserable moan about what has not yet been achieved, forgetting all that has been given us in the last few years, all that is sheer ingratitude,” said the cardinal.
By Anli Serfontein
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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