Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Christ's Church is to be found only in the Catholic Church": Cardinal Kasper

ASIA Cardinal Kasper Reiterates Catholic Church's Unique Place In Ecumenism

July 20, 2006

UIWANG, Korea (UCAN) -- The head of the Vatican organization in charge of ecumenism has reminded bishops of Asia that the Second Vatican Council taught Christ's Church is to be found only in the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, acknowledged that the Second Vatican Council left room for dialogue, but "it also wants to maintain that the Church of Christ has its concrete location in the Catholic Church. It is there that it is found."

He presented his remarks to 35 bishops, priests, Religious and lay persons attending a seminar July 18-20 in Uiwang, 25 kilometers south of Seoul.

Cardinal Kaspar's council jointly organized the seminar, The Search for Christian Unity: Where We Stand Today, with the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC). The participants, representing eight national episcopal conferences in Asia, came from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

When he addressed the participants on July 18, the cardinal noted that "oneness" and "unity" are key terms in the New Testament and the Creed, where "we confess our belief in the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church."

Even so, he said, divisions have arisen all through Church history, such as the division of the pre-Chalcedonian Churches in the fifth century, the separation of the Eastern and the Western Churches in the second millennium, and the Reformation led by Martin Luther in the 16th century.

Questions about where the true Church can be found, he said, are answered in the Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium ("Dogmatic Constitution on the Church"), which states that the "Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."

Church unity, he said, is not an accidental reality but at the very center of God's will and the Catholic faith. Conversely, he asserted, division in the Church is against God's will and Christ's intention, so it is a sin.

He stressed that full communion as the goal of ecumenical efforts must not be understood as the simple "return" of separated Christians and Churches to the bosom of the mother Catholic Church. Rather, he insisted, "The ecumenical movement is a common pilgrimage to the fullness of catholicity (that) Jesus Christ wants for his Church. The closer we come to Christ in this way, the closer we come to each other in order, ultimately, to be fully one in Christ."

"What we need primarily is a spirituality of communion," he said. He also pointed out that the Second Vatican Council deepened the concept of ecumenism by using the term communio (communion) and fostering the ecclesiology of communion. Unless everyone follows this spiritual path, the German prelate said, external structures of communion would serve very little purpose.

Responding to Cardinal Kasper, Carmelite Bishop Herman Joseph Sahadat Pandoyoputro of Malang, Indonesia, said that though he agrees with the spirit of ecumenism, evangelical Churches in his diocese have caused much harm to the faith life of his Catholics. "Some evangelical Churches are inclined to apply a kind of superstition culture," the bishop reported, "so some of our parish priests refuse to promote dialogue and ecumenism with them."

Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, Philippines, chairperson of the FABC Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, reminded the seminar that his office has been promoting dialogue with the Christian Conference of Asia. He said that Catholics need not view Pentecostal, Evangelical and Charismatic Churches only as "separated brothers" but also as "dialogue partners."

Before the seminar began, Cardinal Kasper told a press conference in Seoul that on July 23 he would witness the Methodist Churches signing the agreement on the doctrine of justification that the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church had signed in 1999. The signing will be in Seoul, where the World Methodist Conference of the World Methodist Council meets July 20-24.

"It will be a historic moment for me to testify to the ceremony here in Seoul on the pope's behalf," the cardinal commented. The 73-year-old cardinal also noted that, ever since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Catholic Church has promoted ecumenism by establishing 16 official dialogues with different Christian Churches, including the Lutheran Church.

According to traditional Catholic teaching, as reconfirmed in the Tridentine Council, two conditions are necessary for human salvation: God's grace and good deeds. However, Martin Luther taught that only God's grace is needed. The Catholic-Lutheran agreement reconciles those views by saying human salvation is possible with God's grace, while God's grace asks people to do good deeds.
Reproduced by
Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN (

No comments: