Despite great progress, ecumenical dialogue still stalled, says Cardinal Kasper

.- At the same time that he acknowledged “very encouraging progress” in the area of ecumenism- especially in dialogue with the Orthodox Churches - the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, said this week in Barcelona that “dialogue has stalled in some way,” as “we have now arrived at the firm core of our ecclesiological differences.”

The cardinal made his comments during the inauguration of an ecumenical celebration organized by the Archdiocese of Barcelona and Opus Dei, as part of the preparations for the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly which will take place in Romania in September.

Cardinal Kasper stressed that during the last four decades, “ecumenical dialogue has made great strides” and has allowed for “substantial coming together on various issues, and in some cases, the reaching of a consensus.”  He cited as recent examples Pope Benedict XVI’s visit with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and the visit to Rome by the Archbishop of Athens.

“Despite this encouraging progress,” he said, “we cannot deny that, beyond the unique and normal difficulties that are a part of life, dialogue has in some way become stalled, although talks and meetings, visits and correspondence have not ceased.”

In referring to the causes of this situation, Cardinal Kasper said, “After having overcome many misunderstandings and having reached a fundamental consensus,” now “we have now arrived at the hard core of our ecclesiological differences.”

The primary purpose of ecumenical dialogue, he went on, “is not to induce others to convert to our Church, but rather the conversion of all to Christ,” and therefore, “the transition has been made from arguing to dialogue.”

Cardinal Kasper encouraged the seeking of not only an “institutional” but a “spiritual” ecumenism, centered not on theological dialogues but on “common ecumenical prayer, personal conversion and institutional reform, penance and the striving for personal sanctification.”

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