Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ecumenical Congress promoted ‘unity’ between Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals

Ecumenical Congress promoted ‘unity’ between Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals

Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, several Orthodox Churches, Protestant denominations and free evangelical denominations (including some Baptists and Pentecostals) debated for 3 days about how to walk towards “encounter, reconciliation and hope in a better future.”

“We want to contribute towards reconciliation of Christians and of Churches. Through our witness of unity and reconciliation we also hope to impact on society as a whole. We want to encourage all people of our time to respond with a decisive and hopeful yes for going ahead together and overcoming barriers among people, nations, social and cultural groups”, the organisers said on their website. Among the speakers were Roman Catholic Cardinal Walter Kasper, Evangelical Protestant Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and German Evangelical Alliance Secretary General Hartmut Steeb. Both Pope Francis and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople sent video messages to the participants of the meeting.

“If it [unity among Christians] was so important for Jesus, who prayed for it intensely, then we should not be apathetic about it”, Secretary General of the German Evangelical Alliance Steeb said during his intervention, according to news agency Idea. But this unity, he added, should not be imposed. President of the Evangelical Church Germany (EKD, Protestant Church) Bedford-Strohm said it was time to speak only of 'Christians', instead of 'Catholics' or 'Evangelicals'. President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Vatican, Kardinal Kurt Koch, said he could not understand that some Christians do not “suffer” when they see the lack of unity among Christians in Europe.

See The Congress finished with an open air rally, under the motto: “500 years of division is enough – unity is possible”. About 5,000 people gathered for this final event. Organiser of “Together 2016 Muhich” and German YMCA leader Gerhard Pross said: “The division amongst Christians in Europe is a wound, but it does not have to be open forever.” Looking ahead to the 2017 commemoration of the Protestant Reformation, he concluded: “500 years are enough.”

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