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Spiritual Ecumenism Remedy for Ailing World

Cardinal Kasper: Spiritual Unity Promotes Reconciliation

WINNIPEG, Canada, 24 July 2003 – Spiritual ecumenism is the answer to healing the wounds of the world, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) Walter Cardinal Kasper told participants in the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

In his official greeting to the Assembly being held here, Kasper asserted that "without spirituality, the ecumenical movement becomes merely an academic affair, where "normal" Christians cannot follow, where they feel excluded and finally frustrated; or it becomes a soulless activism, the business of an endless series of conferences, symposiums, gatherings, meetings and ever-new documents which nobody can read."

He underscored the need for spirituality of unity and communion, which culminate in a spirituality of prayer, forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual acceptance of each other.

Citing the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed between the LWF and Roman Catholic Church in Augsburg, Germany, 1999, the PCPCU president said this unity was necessary to heal the world’s wounds of suffering, as expressed in the LWF Tenth Assembly theme, "For the Healing of the World."

"The Joint Declaration must not remain a dead letter and must not become the secret of specialists and experts; it must come to life in our respective communities and overall, in our hearts," he noted.

Kasper reiterated that as the delegates gathered under the theme, it was time to look forward and map out final directions and goals for the LWF Tenth Assembly. He said the theme had set answers as to where the organization was headed; toward promoting healing from scars of injustice, war and terrorism, divisions, lack of truth and confidence, loneliness and hopelessness.

"To all these bleeding wounds, the Christians’ answer is nothing other than the message of justification," he added.

He observed that the cooperation between Lutherans and Roman Catholics was evidence of growing in communion and healing of divisions, which lead to a spirit of reconciliation.

He was addressing over 820 participants in the Assembly, among them observers from ecumenical partnerships and members of the press.

The Assembly, held every six years, commenced on July 21 and closes on July 31. The last one took place in 1997 in Hong Kong, China, the first ever in Asia and focused on the theme "In Christ Called to Witness."

The Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place 21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth Assembly including 380 delegates from the 133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets annually, and by its Executive Committee.

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