Before adding new members to the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict held a meeting with its current members on the topic of ecumenism. With all of the cardinals gathered, the Pope introduced the theme he had chosen for the day's discussion, "ecumenical dialogue in the light of prayer and of the Lord's command: 'Ut unum sint' (That they may be one)."
Cardinal Walter Kasper then took the floor and provided a brief outline of the state of ecumenical relations dividing them into three main areas: “relations with the ancient Churches of the East; relations with the ecclesial communities that came into being in the wake of the Reformation; and lastly relations with the charismatic and Pentecostal movements that developed above all during last century."
Cardinal Kasper, who is the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also presented "the results achieved in each of these fields, describing progress made to date and problems still outstanding."
After the results of recent ecumenical efforts were presented, the cardinals held an open discussion about the numerous situations that they have encountered and took care to discuss problems that they have run up against. Among these difficulties were: “the joint ecumenical commitment of Christians in the social and charitable fields,” and the defense of “moral values in the transformation of modern societies.”
The most promising area of progress, the cardinals noted, is “the Church's social doctrine and its implementation”. Other areas that received support were the commitment to continue the 'purification of memory' and the use of forms of communication that “do not wound” the sensibility of other Christians.
"It was suggested that profound consideration be given to the possibilities for ecumenical development," in which context "recent and highly significant events were mentioned, such as the ecumenical assembly of Sibiu, Romania, the ecumenical and inter-religious meeting of Naples, Italy, the journey to Paris of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow, and the great ecumenical gatherings of ecclesial movements at Stuttgart, Germany."
Finally, "in the wider context, attention turned to relations with Judaism and to inter-religious dialogue."
"On the theme of ecumenism, further attention was given to questions such as collaboration among Christians of different confessions for the defense of the family in society and in legislative systems, and the importance of spiritual ecumenism and of personal relations with the faithful and with authorities of other Christian confessions.
"A number of the contributions touched on relations with the Jews and with Islam. Mention was made of the encouraging sign represented by the letter from 138 Muslim leaders and by the visit of the king of Saudi Arabia to the Pope."
"Following a brief reply from Cardinal Kasper on a number of specific points, the Holy Father delivered a concluding address, summing up what had been discussed. He thanked the cardinals for their participation and contributions and announced the forthcoming publication of his new Encyclical dedicated to the subject of hope, in response to the deepest expectations of our contemporaries."