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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2007 (VIS) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, today held a briefing for journalists on the current state of ecumenism. The event was timed to coincide with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, being held from January 18 to 25.

  The meeting, held in the Holy See Press Office, was also attended by Bishop Brian Farrell L.C. and Msgr, Eleuterio F. Fortino, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

  Cardinal Kasper affirmed that last year had been particularly fruitful in ecumenical terms, with the Pope's trip to Turkey, during which he signed a joint declaration with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople; and the resumption of work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox.

  Currently, one of the main themes is the primacy of Peter, with all the theological, canonical and even emotional problems it brings. "It is necessary to continue to pray and be patient to ensure progress in this area," said the cardinal. "For now, replies have been received from various Churches, and these are being analyzed and discussed."

  On the subject of a possible meeting between Benedict XVI and Alexis II, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, Cardinal Kasper indicated that "for the moment nothing concrete has been decided." Relations with the Russian Orthodox Church are improving, close collaboration also exists with various dicasteries of the Roman Curia and various dioceses.

  The president of the pontifical council denied that the Holy See has abandoned relations with Protestant communities, describing such rumors as "groundless insinuations." Various ecumenical delegations have been received by the Holy Father and have participated in the Wednesday general audiences.

  As for forthcoming ecumenical events, the cardinal mentioned the European ecumenical meeting, due to be held at Sibiu, Romania in September; the plenary of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, due to be held in Ravenna, Italy in 2007, at which it is possible the Pope may be present; and the second ecumenical congress of communities and movements, "Together for Europe," to be held in Stuttgart, Germany.

  At the end of his press briefing, Cardinal Kasper presented his new book entitled "A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism, guidelines for its implementation," which has just been published in Italian, English and French. It contains practical and pastoral suggestions to strengthen spiritual ecumenism, "which is," the introduction reads, "the soul of the entire ecumenical movement." The book is addressed to everyone involved in ecumenical activities in various dioceses and parishes, although each and every member of the Church is called to make their own contribution, above all through prayer.
OP/ECUMENISM/KASPER                        VIS 20070123 (460)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2007 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father, via Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., to Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, for the death on Monday at the age of 94, of Abbe Pierre, founder of the Community of Emmaus.

  "Informed of the death of Abbe Pierre, the Holy Father gives thanks for his activity in favor of the poorest, by which he bore witness to the charity that comes from Christ. Entrusting to divine mercy this priest whose whole life was dedicated to fighting poverty, he asks the Lord to welcome him into the peace of His kingdom. By way of comfort and hope, His Holiness sends you a heartfelt apostolic blessing, which he extends to the family of the departed, to members of the communities of Emmaus, and to everyone gathering for the funeral."
TGR/DEATH ABBE PIERRE/RICARD                VIS 20070123 (160)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2007 (VIS) - On Friday, January 19, at the Prince Charles Palace in Munich, Germany, the signing ceremony took place of an additional protocol to the Concordat with Bavaria of March 29, 1924. The new protocol regulates a number of questions concerning the teaching of theology at faculties of Catholic theology in State universities and in other educational centers in Bavaria.

  Signing on the part of the Holy See, as plenipotentiary, was Archbishop Erwin Josef Ender, apostolic nuncio to Germany and, for the Free State of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, minister president.

  According to a communique, the protocol "lays down new norms for faculties of Catholic theology in the Universities of Bamberg and Passau; for 15 years after the signing of the current accord, those norms will remain quiescent, and during that period both institutions will continue to exist as institutes of Catholic theology."

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