Aide: Pope Looking for Ecumenical Honesty

Holy Father not satisfied with "well wishing."
by Zenit | Source:
NEW YORK ( Benedict XVI is looking for a "commitment of honesty" from Christians engaged in ecumenical dialogue, according to a Vatican aide.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this Saturday in comments to the press on the address the Pope gave to ecumenical leaders Friday evening.

The meeting of over 300 religious leaders involved in ecumenical dialogue gathered at St. Joseph's Parish in Manhattan. According to organizers, some 250 represented various Protestant churches, 50 were Orthodox leaders and 50 were Catholics.

Father Lombardi said the Pope wants "to go to the foundations," "to move all Christians of every community to reflect on the importance of seeking the truth together," without being satisfied with "a certain 'well wishing,' let us say, a certain generic goodwill, but to seek out that which is our duty to revealed truth."

What the Pontiff is promoting, he added, is therefore "a commitment of honesty, of honesty and reflection in which the true Christian faith is brought to light [...] by seeking the essential elements of the profession of faith that Scripture and Tradition uphold and on the basis of which, then, we must come together."


In his address, Benedict XVI outlined various challenges facing the globalized community, which he said today is "poised between two poles."

He commented that on one hand "there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and interdependency between peoples even when -- geographically and culturally speaking -- they are far apart," but on the other hand "we cannot deny that the rapid changes occurring in our world also present some disturbing signs of fragmentation and a retreat into individualism."

The Pope added that using new communication technology can often cause greater isolation, and that people are yearning for "more authentic forms of community."

Additionally, the Pontiff highlighted the spread of a secularist ideology that "undermines or even rejects transcendent truth."

"The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore of Christian faith," he added, "is often placed into question by cultural trends widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate."

"For these reasons," the Holy Father urged, "a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the hope that they hold."


Benedict XVI said the division among Christians causes confusion among non-Christians regarding the authentic message of the Gospel, "just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel."

The Pope recalled the "unwavering conviction of the early Christian community that its unity was both caused by, and is reflective of, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This, in turn, suggests that the internal cohesion of believers was based on the sound integrity of their doctrinal confession."

"My dear friends," continued the Holy Father, "the power of the kerygma has lost none of its internal dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that science alone is 'objective,' relegate religion entirely to the subjective sphere of individual feeling.

"Scientific discoveries, and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not mean, however, that the 'knowable' is limited to the empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of 'personal experience.'"

The Pontiff called this line of reasoning "faulty," and that accepting it would lead to more division and a loss of the "importance of doctrinal content for Christian living."

Benedict XVI said that even within the ecumenical movement, some are "reluctant to assert the role of doctrine for fear that it would only exacerbate rather than heal the wounds of division."

"Yet a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching," he asserted, "a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today."

"Only by 'holding fast' to sound teaching," added the Pope, "will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching."

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