Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, explained last week that the entrance of Anglicans into the Catholic Church is the fruit of authentic ecumenism inspired by the Second Vatican Council.
On the eve of a scheduled meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Cardinal Kasper commented on the openness of the Catholic Church to Anglicans who asked to be admitted into full communion.
Ecumenism is not an “option” that the Church can accept or reject but is rather “a sacred duty,” he said.
“Ecumenism is not an appendix of our pastoral obligations or a luxury. The principles of the Vatican II decree ‘Unitatis redintegratio,’ that is, ecumenism in truth and love, are also valid for the future. This decree is the magna carta of our ecumenical journey towards the future,” the cardinal said.
The decree "Unitatis redintegratio” states that “promoting the restoration of unity between all Christians is one of the main ends proposed by the sacrosanct Vatican Council II,” he added.
Cardinal Kasper added that the effort to reach out to Anglicans is in complete conformity with the decree, “which distinguishes between conversions and ecumenism as dialogue with the other churches for the purpose of full communion.”
He reiterated that the decree does not represent “a new ecumenism,” but rather the fruit of the ecumenical dialogue of recent decades, “a strong drive to move ahead in our ecumenical commitment.”