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Protestant fragmentation, Orthodox disagreement slow ecumenical progress, says Vatican cardinal

Catholic World News - April 22, 2013

The Vatican has reached agreement with the Lutheran World Federation on a joint statement to be released for the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s theses, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity has disclosed.

The joint document will be released in June, Cardinal Kurt Koch told Austrian interviewers. In a candid exchange, the cardinal also spoke of some of the main obstacles to ecumenical progress. He listed the continued fragmentation of Protestant groups and the failure of Orthodox leaders to reach their own mutual understanding on the question of primacy.

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople is “the most optimistic among all the patriarchs” regarding the prospects for unity, Cardinal Koch said. But the path to a real agreement appears blocked for now because Orthodox leaders have not agreed on any understanding of primacy beyond a “primacy of honor.” The cardinal observed that such an understanding is workable “only in good weather.”

If the Catholic Church had accepted a papacy based solely on “primacy of honor,” Cardinal Koch said, the likely result would have been “the same fate as the Orthodox”—numerous national churches” rather than true and lasting unity.

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  • Posted by: Defender - Apr. 22, 2013 7:45 PM ET USA

    Protestants are fragmented, really? Don't like what a pastor might say his church stands for, go next door and keep going until you find one or create one yourself. Is Protestant reconciliation really possible, so why bother? Likewise, we have so many priests, sisters, bishops and laity that don't believe in what the Church teaches, that perhaps they need to hit the bricks, too, if they can't be reconciled.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Apr. 22, 2013 5:37 PM ET USA

    National churches couldn't get along any more than national governments. Churches must reach across borders in order to be truly universal. I fear we are making two steps backward for every one step we make forward.

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