Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ut Unum Sint

One of the things that drew me to the Catholic Church was reading and rereading Christ’s prayer in the Garden (John 17). While I was mulling over His prayer that all Christians be one and that our unity be a sign to unbelievers, Pope John Paul II promulgated his wonderful encyclical Ut Unum Sint.

This morning I listened to and read along with Benedict XVI’s Address at the Ecumenical Prayer Service at St. Joseph’s Parish (Manhatten) from two evenings ago. Wow. It is clearly pastoral, and clearly heartfelt, but he minces no words. He does not outright call our divisions a scandal to the name of Christ, but he firmly finds fault with variance from what is truly Catholic, what has been believed everywhere, everywhen. Here is the paragraph that caught my ear:

Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called "prophetic actions" that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of "local options". Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia - communion with the Church in every age - is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).
Go read the rest. And feel free to watch & listen (wmv) as well (link from this site; I'd happily post better streams).

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