Skip to main content

Pope's Address to Ecumenical Meeting in Cologne

Remembers "Great Pioneer of Unity, Brother Roger"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 28, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is the translation of a transcription made during Benedict XVI's address to representatives of various Christian confessions with whom he met in the archbishop's palace in Cologne. The meeting came during his visit for World Youth Day.

* * *

Friday, Aug. 19, 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Permit me to remain seated after such a strenuous day. This does not mean I wish to speak "ex cathedra."

Also, excuse me for being late. Unfortunately, Vespers took longer than foreseen and the traffic was slower moving than could be imagined.

I would like now to express the joy I feel on the occasion of my visit to Germany, in being able to meet you and offer a warm greeting to you, the representatives of the other churches and ecclesial communities.

As a native of this country, I am quite aware of the painful situation which the rupture of unity in the profession of the faith has entailed for so many individuals and families. This was one of the reasons why, immediately following my election as Bishop of Rome, I declared, as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, my firm commitment to making the recovery of full and visible Christian unity a priority of my pontificate.

In doing so, I wished consciously to follow in the footsteps of two of my great Predecessors: Pope Paul VI, who over 40 years ago signed the conciliar decree on ecumenism "Unitatis Redintegratio," and Pope John Paul II, who made that document the inspiration for his activity.

In ecumenical dialogue Germany has, without a doubt, a place of particular importance. We are the country where the Reformation began; however, Germany is also one of the countries where the ecumenical movement of the 20th century originated.

With the successive waves of immigration in the last century, Christians from the Orthodox Churches and the ancient Churches of the East also found a new homeland in this Country. This certainly favored greater contact and exchanges so that now there is a dialogue between the three of us.

Together we can rejoice in the fact that, with the passage of time, that dialogue has brought about a renewed sense of our brotherhood and has created a more open and trusting climate between Christians belonging to the various churches and ecclesial communities. In his Encyclical "Ut Unum Sint" (1995), my venerable Predecessor saw this as an especially significant fruit of dialogue (cf. Nos. 41ff.; 64).

I feel the fact that we consider one another brothers and sisters, that we love one another, that together we are witnesses of Jesus Christ, should not be taken so much for granted. I believe that this brotherhood is in itself a very important fruit of dialogue that we must rejoice in, continue to foster and to practice.

Among Christians, fraternity is not just a vague sentiment, or a sign of indifference to truth. As you just said, Bishop, it is grounded in the supernatural reality of the one baptism which makes us all members of the one Body of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 2:12).

Together we confess that Jesus Christ is God and Lord; together we acknowledge him as the one mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5), and we emphasize that together we are members of his Body (cf. "Unitatis Redintegratio," No. 22; "Ut Unum Sint," No. 42).

Based on this essential foundation of baptism, a reality comes from him which is a way of being, then of professing, believing and acting. Based on this crucial foundation, dialogue has borne its fruits and will continue to do so.

I would like to mention the re-examination of the mutual condemnations, called for by John Paul II during his first Visit to Germany. I recall with some nostalgia that first visit. I was able to be present when we were together at Mainz in a fairly small and authentic fraternal circle. Some questions were put to the Pope and he described a broad theological vision in which reciprocity was amply treated.

That colloquium gave rise to an episcopal, that is, a Church commission, under ecclesial responsibility. Finally, with the contribution of theologians it led to the important Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1999) and to an agreement on basic issues that had been a subject of controversy since the 16th century.

We should also acknowledge with gratitude the results of our common stand on important matters, such as the fundamental questions involving the defense of life and the promotion of justice and peace.

I am well aware that many Christians in Germany, and not only in this Country, expect further concrete steps to bring us closer together. I myself have the same expectation.

It is the Lord's commandment, but also the ...

1 | 2 | 3  Next Page

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article


Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 4:1-11
This made Jonah very indignant; he fell into a rage. He prayed ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10
take pity on me, Lord, for to you I cry all the day. Fill your ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:1-4
Now it happened that he was in a certain place praying, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 7 Saint of the Day

St. Artaldus
October 7: Artaldus (also called Arthaud) was born in the castle of ... Read More