Pave Benedikt snakket i går om økumenikken under onsdagsaudiensen, som paven alltid gjør flere ganger i løpet av bønneuken for kristen enhet – mange kristne, mange menigheter, prester og biskoper, ser ut til å ha mye dårligere hukommelse enn paven!
Han snakket om temaet for årets uke og siterte en uttalese fra Vatikankonsilet som sier at “arbeidet for enhet er en oppgave for hele Kirken, både de troende og hyrdene”. Etter innledningen av hans tale (som jeg gjengir her) fortsatte han med å nevne møter med mange kirkesamfunn i løpet av året – flere protestantiske og flere ortodokse.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity closes tomorrow, which this year had as its theme the words of Mark’s Gospel “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (Mark 7:37). We could also repeat these words, which express the wonder of the people who witnessed the healing of the man who could not hear or speak, on seeing the wonderful flowering of the commitment for the re-establishment of Christian unity. On reviewing the journey of the last forty years, we marvel at how the Lord has awakened us from the lethargy of self-sufficiency and indifference; how he makes us ever more able to “listen to one another” and not just “hear ourselves”; how he has loosened our tongue so that the prayer we raise to him has greater force of conviction for the world.
Yes, it is true, the Lord has granted me many graces and, in the light of the Spirit, has illuminated many testimonies. They have demonstrated that everything can be attained by praying, when we are able to obey with trust and humility to the divine commandment of love and to adhere to Christ’s longing for the unity of all his disciples.
“The attainment of union is the concern of the whole Church, faithful and shepherds alike,” affirms the Second Vatican Council. “This concern extends to everyone, according to his talent, whether it be exercised in his daily Christian life or in his theological and historical search” (“Unitatis Redintegratio,” 5).
The first common duty is prayer. By praying, and praying together, Christians acquire a greater awareness of their condition of brothers, even if they are still divided; and by praying we learn better to listen to the Lord, as we can only find the path to unity by listening to the Lord and following his voice.
Ecumenism is certainly a slow process, at times perhaps even discouraging when one gives in to the temptation to “hear” and not to “listen,” to say half-truths, instead of having the courage to proclaim them. It is not easy to emerge from “comfortable deafness,” as if the unaltered Gospel did not have the capacity to re-flower, reaffirming itself as providential leaven of conversion and spiritual renewal for each one of us.
Ecumenism, as I was saying, is a slow process; it is a gradual journey of ascent, as are all journeys of repentance. However, it is a journey that, after the initial difficulties and in fact in them, presents also great moments of joy, refreshing pauses, and allows one to breathe fully the very pure air of full communion.
The experience of these decades, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, shows that the search for Christian unity is realized at different levels and in innumerable circumstances: in parishes, in hospitals, in contacts between people, in collaboration between local communities in all parts of the world, and especially in areas where to carry out a gesture of good will in favor of a brother calls for great effort and also for a purification of the memory.