Much of modern ecumenical engagement among protestant denominations has focused mutual recognition and cooperation between denominations without an expectation of full merger. That’s certainly the basic view of the Episcopal Church’s agreement with the Lutheran and Moravian churches. But according to the newly appointed head of Ecumenism for the Roman Catholic Church, that’s a mistake. We should not look for cooperation. We should insist on unity only and not settle for cooperation.
“Cardinal-elect Kurt Koch, the new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), has accused Protestants of renouncing the original goal of ecumenism. They have succumbed to a relativistic view of ecclesiology based on shared communion between separate Churches, he said this week, and in doing so have abandoned the proper ecumenical aim of genuine unity.
‘It is decisively in this postmodern mentality characterised by pluralistic and relativistic tendencies that is found the great challenge to the search for visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ,’ the Swiss archbishop said on Monday at the opening of the PCPCU plenary assembly in Rome marking the fiftieth anniversary of the pontifical council. In a theologically dense address to his first PCPCU plenary since becoming president last July, he said this mentality was found among not only Protestants but also ‘many Catholics’.
The PCPCU president, who is to be made a cardinal in today’s consistory, said the current crisis of ecumenism boiled down to what he called the two ‘profoundly different mentalities’ that shape the way Catholics and Protestants describe the nature of the Church.
‘The Churches and ecclesial communities born of the Reform have renounced the original objective of ecumenism as visible unity and have substituted it with the concept of mutual recognition as Churches,’ he said.”