Archbishop Koch pledges unity with Pope as he assumes new Vatican post

Archbishop Koch pledges unity with Pope as he assumes new Vatican post

Archbishop Kurt Koch
Archbishop Kurt Koch

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The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is not an entity independent from the Pope, its new president confirmed on Wednesday. Archbishop Kurt Koch spoke with L'Osservatore Romano newspaper about some of the highlights from his meetings with the Pope this past week.

Archbishop Koch told L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) on Wednesday that the meeting of the Pope's former theology students was "a concrete, lively and positive experience." He said that the participants' conclusion after examining the reform of the Second Vatican Council over the weekend was that "(l)oyalty to tradition, openness to the future: is the most correct interpretation of Vatican II, which remains the magna carta of the Church also in the third millennium."

As a result of the "interesting and rich" debate, he explained to LOR, the members were able to see "how the spiritual dimension is fundamental in every aspect of Christian life. “And this is true," said the archbishop, "from my point of view, also in the ecumenical dialogue that constitutes the field of work most directly before me."

At the end of June, Archbishop Koch received the call from Rome to move from his place as auxiliary bishop of Basel, Switzerland to lead the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Although he shared few details of his audience with Benedict XVI on Monday morning, the archbishop did tell LOR that he and the Pope spoke about his "new ecumenical challenge because the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is not independent (from the Pontiff) but it has a mandate from the Pope to see how dialogue may develop in the future."

Exiting the presidency of the council earlier this summer, Cardinal Walter Kasper said looked to the future of dialogue "with hope, which is not human optimism, but Christian hope. The "torch" of unity, he added, passes on to a new generation that "will surely look at the dialogues undertaken with new eyes."

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