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Current Problems in Ecumenical Theology



In the last decades, ecumenism and the ecumenical movement have become commonplace for most Christians. In a situation where the term globalization characterises our condition in all its ambiguity, to the majority of people ecumenism seems self-evident. Nonetheless, after the first rather euphoric phase of the ecumenical movement which followed the Second Vatican Council, the last decade has seen us experiencing signs of tiredness, disillusionment and stagnation. Some speak even of a crisis, and many Christians no longer understand the differences on which the Churches are arguing with each other. Others hold that ecumenism is outmoded and that interreligious dialogue now represents the new agenda. In my opinion, there is a difference but not a competition between the two dialogues, for ultimately to be effective interreligious dialogue presupposes that Christians can speak one and the same language. Indeed, the necessity of interreligious dialogue makes ecumenical dialogue even more urgent.

Today, through the new means of communication and travel, people are closer to each other; nations and people are much more interrelated and they are, so to say, on the same boat for better or for worse. This gives an impulse to the Christian Churches, and they are challenged to reflect upon their divisions and to seek to overcome them. Ecumenism is thus a response to a sign of the times. For the Catholic Church, especially for the present Pope, this is one of the priorities of her pastoral work.[1] It is all the more necessary since the divisions between the Churches are becoming increasingly more shameful and scandalous, preventing them from giving a common witness to life, justice, peace, human dignity and solidarity in a world which urgently needs such a common testimony.

All the more do the questions arise: Where are we? Why this crisis? How do we overcome the current problems? What are these problems? In order to understand our situation we must for a brief moment trace the origins of our difficulties.

I. Impulses

The 20th century, which began with a belief in progress which is quite unthinkable today, turned out in the end to be one of the darkest and bloodiest centuries in the history of mankind, with two world wars, many local wars, civil wars and ethnic conflicts, two humanity-despising totalitarian systems, concentration camps and gulags, genocides, expulsions and waves of refugees. Never before had so many people violently lost their lives in one single century. But in that dark century one bright light also shone: the rise of the ecumenical movement. After the centuries during which the “una sancta ecclesia”, the “One Holy Church” confessed by all Western Churches in a common profession of faith, broke increasingly into separate Churches, a counter movement set in.

All Churches became painfully aware that such a situation contradicted Jesus Christ’s will, and was a sin and a scandal. The separation of the Churches – 1500 years ago with the Ancient Oriental Churches, 1000 years ago with the Orthodox Churches, and almost 500 years ago with reformed Christianity, with a tendency to still new divisions – has seriously prejudiced the credibility of the Christian message. The divisions have brought much harm to mankind, inducing disunity and estrangement even within families, even to this very day.

Characteristically, the new ecumenical awareness developed in connection with the missionary movement. The birth of the ecumenical movement is generally traced to the 1910 World Missionary Conference of Edinburgh. The division of the Churches was recognized as a serious obstacle to world mission. A second impulse came from the war experiences and the national-socialist terror. In the concentration camps, courageous Christians from different Churches discovered that in their resistance against a new pagan totalitarian terror system they had much more in common than what divided them. Thus, the ecumenical movement emerged fully in the second half of the 20th century. The founding of the World Council of Churches in 1948 in Amsterdam was an important milestone on the ecumenical way. With the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) the Catholic Church, too, joined the ecumenical movement. That decision for the ecumenical commitment – as Pope John Paul II constantly stresses – is irrevocable.[2]

Much has been achieved over the last decades. Separated Christians no longer consider one another as strangers, competitors or even enemies, but as brothers and sisters. They have largely removed the former lack of understanding, misunderstanding, prejudice, and indifference; they pray together, they give together witness to their common faith; in many fields they work trustfully together. They have experienced that “what unites us is much greater than what divides us”.[3] Such a change was hardly conceivable only half a century ago; to wish to go back to those times would entail being forsaken not only by all good spirits but also by the Holy Spirit.


II. The foundations

Some new documents, first of all the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, “Dominus Jesus[4], have given rise to doubts about the ecumenical commitment of the Catholic Church. Many people were disappointed, wounded and hurt by the tone and style of the document. Yet, the resulting irritations are no reason for resignation. References to still existing and undeniable differences do not mean the end of dialogue, although they do represent a challenge to dialogue. In any case, that document does not represent any fundamental change in the attitude of the Catholic Church.

Because of the many misunderstandings this text aroused, I would like before entering into the present and the future of ecumenism to make a few – necessarily fragmentary – observations on the theological foundations of ecumenism, as outlined in the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council “Unitatis redintegratio” and in the ecumenical encyclical “Ut unum sint” (1995). From the Catholic perspective, these two documents represent the Magna Carta of the ecumenical commitment.

The decisive element of the Second Vatican Council’s ecumenical approach is the fact that the Council no longer identifies the Church of Jesus Christ simply with the Roman Catholic Church, as had Pope Pius XII as lately as in the Encyclical “Mystici corporis” (1943). The Council replaced “est” (the Catholic Church “is” Jesus Christ’s Church) with “subsisti”: the Church of Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, which means that the Church of Jesus Christ is made concretely real in the Catholic Church; in her she is historically and concretely present and can be met.[5] This does not exclude that also outside the visible structure of the Catholic Church there are not only individual Christians but also elements of the Church, and with them an “ecclesial reality”. “It is not that beyond the boundaries of the Catholic community there is an ecclesial vacuum”.[6]

The Council speaks of “elementa ecclesiae” outside the Catholic Church, which, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.[7] The concept “elementa” or “vestigia” comes from Calvin.[8] Obviously, the Council – unlike Calvin – understands the elementa not as sad remains but as dynamic reality, and it says expressly that the Spirit of God uses these elementa as means of salvation for non-Catholic Christians.[9] Consequently, there is no idea of an arrogant claim to a monopoly on salvation. On the contrary, both the Council and the ecumenical Encyclical acknowledge explicitly that the Holy Spirit is at work in the other Churches in which they even discover examples of holiness up to martyrdom.[10]

Similar declarations are made by the non-Catholic Churches. The Orthodox Churches claim even more “harshly” to be the Church of Jesus Christ.[11] The confessional texts of the Reformation also affirm that the true Church is present in them; they deliberately and critically made a point of striking themselves off from the then “Pope’s Church”, and the Reformed Churches continue to do so still today. No Church can speak of several duplicates or branches of the one Church of Jesus Christ all having equal rights, without renouncing the claim of being truthful. Every Church that takes itself seriously, must start from the fact that – for all human weaknesses – the true Church of Jesus Christ is present in it. The Catholic Church takes the other Churches seriously precisely in that she does not even out the differences nor does she consider these differences as being of “equal value”, but she respects the other Churches in the otherness which they claim for themselves. In that sense she speaks with them “par cum pari”, on a parity level, “on an equal footing”.[12]

Besides, the Council is aware of the sinfulness of the members of its own Church, and of sinful structures existing in the Church itself;[13] and it knows about the need of reforming the shape of the Church. The Constitution on the Church and the Decree on Ecumenism state expressly that the Church is a pilgrim Church, an ecclesia “semper purificanda”, which must constantly take the way of penance and renewal.[14] Thus, the ecumenical dialogue fulfils the task of an examination of conscience.[15] Ecumenism is not possible without conversion and renewal.[16]

The Catholic Church too is wounded by the divisions of Christianity. Her wounds include the impossibility of concretely realizing fully her own Catholicity in the situation of division.[17] Several aspects of being Church are better realized in the other Churches. Therefore, ecumenism is no one-way street, but a reciprocal learning process, or – as stated in the ecumenical Encyclical “Ut unum sint” – an exchange of gifts.[18]

All this shows that the divisions did not reach down to the roots, nor do they reach up to heaven. The Council distinguishes full communion from imperfect communion.[19] The aim of ecumenical work is the full communion and the fullness of unity, which cannot be a unitary Church, but a unity in diversity.[20] The way to it is therefore not the return of the others into the fold of the Catholic Church, nor the conversion of individuals to the Catholic Church (even if this must obviously be mutually acknowledged when it is based on reasons of conscience).[21]

In the ecumenical movement the question is the conversion of all to Jesus Christ. As we move nearer to Jesus Christ, in him we move nearer to one another. Therefore, it is not a question of Church political debates and compromises, not of some kind of union, but of a reciprocal spiritual exchange and a mutual enrichment. The oikoumene is a spiritual process, in which the question is not about a way backwards but about a way forwards.[22] Such unity is ultimately a gift of God’s Spirit and of his guidance. Therefore, the oikoumene is neither a mere academic nor only a diplomatic matter; its soul is spiritual ecumenism.[23]


III. Ecumenism with the Ancient Oriental and Orthodox Churches

In what follows I shall proceed from the fundamental declarations to the concrete ecumenical situation. In doing so I shall not limit myself to Protestant-Catholic relations. In the oikoumene we must overcome a unilateral “Western-oriented” ecumenical theology and include the Oriental Churches, especially because the diaspora of these Churches has meant that they have their home also in the Western world.

The Oriental Churches include not only the Orthodox Churches, but also the Ancient Oriental Churches which separated from the then imperial Church as early as the 4th and 5th centuries, or had never even belonged to it (Eastern and Western Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian and Thomas Christians). To us Westerners they make an archaic impression; but they are lively Churches, deeply rooted in the life of their respective peoples. By joining the ecumenical movement they were able to overcome their secular isolation and resume their place within the whole of Christianity.

The reasons underlying their separation, besides political motives, lay in the dispute about the Christological formula of the Council of Chalcedon (451): Jesus Christ true God and true man in one person, that is one person in two natures. In the meantime, after intensive preparatory work involving historical research on dogmas[24] and discussion mediated by the “Pro Oriente” Foundation in Vienna,[25] these controversies have been settled through the bilateral declarations of the Pope and the respective Patriarchs.[26] It was recognized that when speaking of one person and two natures, the starting point was a different philosophical conception, but with the same meaning as far as the matter itself is concerned. This understanding has enabled maintaining the common faith in Jesus Christ as true God and true man, without imposing on the other one’s own respective formula; thus, the formulations of the Council of Chalcedon were not forced upon the Ancient Oriental Churches. The ultimate outcome has been unity in the diversity of ways of expression.

In the coming months, after an interval, we shall undertake a second phase of dialogue, this time with all the Ancient Oriental Churches together. We hope that concrete steps can successively be taken and that perspectives of a hopefully possible full communion can be developed in the future.

No such official agreement has yet been reached with the Orthodox Churches of Byzantine and Slavic tradition. However, at the end of the Council the excommunication of 1054, the symbolic date of the separation between East and West, was cancelled “from the conscience of the Church”. Of course, the year 1954 is rather a symbolic date. The actual breach occurred only with the conquest, looting and destruction of Constantinople in 1204 in connection with the 4th crusade. But that had long antecedents. East and West had received differently the message of the Gospel and they had developed different traditions,[27] moreover, different forms of cultures and mentalities developed in the Eastern and in the Western spheres. Yet despite these differences, all were living in the one Church. But already in the first millennium, East and West grew increasingly apart, understanding each other less and less. This estrangement was the actual reason of the separation.[28]

So we see even today in every meeting with the Orthodox churches that while we are very close to one another in the faith, we have difficulties in understanding each other culturally and mentally. In the East, we encounter a highly developed culture, but one with neither the Western separation between Church and State nor the modern Enlightenment in its background, and one perhaps marked most of all by 50 or so years of Communist oppression. After the changes closing the last century, these churches are now free for the first time – free from the Byzantine emperors, free from the Ottomans, free from the Tsars and free from the totalitarian Communist system; they see themselves facing an entirely transformed world, in which they must first find their way. This takes time and requires patience.

The three documents produced by the “Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue” between 1980 and 1990 show a deep community in the understanding of faith, church and sacraments.[29] The positive results of the North-American dialogues have also been a valid contribution. Along this line, important elements of the ancient church communion with both the Orthodox and the Ancient Oriental Sister Churches could be renewed: reciprocal visits and regular correspondence between the Pope and the Patriarchs, frequent contacts at the local church level and – importantly for the strongly monastic Oriental Churches – at the level of the monasteries. Our estrangement has persisted over so many centuries, and a long process will be needed to live together again.

The only seriously debated theological issue[30] between us and the Orthodox Church, besides the "Filioque"-clause in the Creed, which is still a motive of separation for most Orthodox, is the question of Roman primacy. As Popes Paul VI and John Paul II have often said, this issue is for non-Catholic Christians the most serious stumbling block.[31] In this perspective, John Paul II in his ecumenical Encyclical “Ut unum sint” (1995) extended an invitation to a fraternal dialogue on the future exercise of the primacy.[32] A quite revolutionary step for a Pope! The resonance was great; yet, unlike most Churches of the Reformed tradition, the Oriental Churches have unfortunately hardly taken up this invitation. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has collected the reactions to this initiative and has sent this data to all the churches and ecclesial groupings involved. We hope in this way to have initiated a second phase of the dialogue. The outcome of the first phase – as to be expected – was by far not yet a consensus; but there seems to be a new atmosphere, a new interest and a new openness.

Unfortunately, after the 1989/90 political changes in Middle and Eastern Europe, relations with the Orthodox churches have become more difficult. In Ukraine and Romania the Oriental churches in union with Rome, which had been violently oppressed and persecuted by Stalin, have come out of the catacombs and returned to public life. Old hostilities in turn re–emerged, and have since then made the dialogue more difficult, especially with the major Orthodox church, the Russian-Orthodox Church. At the last plenary meeting of the “Joint International Commission” in Baltimore, 2001, we could unfortunately make no progress. It has become clear that the issue regarding the Oriental Churches in union with Rome cannot be discussed without taking up the main cause of separation and of union, namely the question of communion with Rome.

That question cannot be considered in isolation; it concerns the relationship between primacy and synodical structure (we would say: collegiality).[33] Joseph Ratzinger – at the time in his academic role –laid the basis for that discussion in his well-known address in 1976 in Graz, by stating “that what was possible during a whole millennium can Christianly not be impossible today”. “On the doctrine of the primacy, Rome must not require more from the East than what was formulated and lived out during the first millennium”.[34] Known as the “Ratzinger Formula”, this idea has become fundamental for the discussion; it has also been touched upon in the Encyclical “Ut unum sint”.[35] We hope to have soon the possibility to take up the issue during a symposium.


IV. Oikoumene with the Churches of the Reformed tradition

It is necessary to go into more depth in relation to the ecumenical discussion with the Oriental Churches, for I am convinced that such a discussion is essential also in order to overcome the divisions within Western Christianity. Upon its separation from the East, Latin Christianity has developed unilaterally; it has, so to say, breathed with one lung only and is impoverished. This impoverishment was one cause, among others, of the serious crisis in the Church in the late Middle Ages, which led to the tragic division of the 16th century. My following remarks will limit themselves to the dialogue with the Lutherans which, together with the dialogue with the Anglican Communion, is the most developed one.

In the meantime much has been accomplished in many bilateral and multilateral dialogues at the international, regional and local level.[36] Based on considerable preparatory work,[37] the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” was solemnly signed in 1999.[38] This – as the Pope rightly expressed it – was a milestone, that is an important step but not yet the end of the journey. The result allows us to give common witness to the essence of the Gospel. Of course, there are a number of further yet unresolved issues. However, the Churches do not have to agree point by point on all theological issues. If there is substantial agreement, differences are not necessarily church divisive. A differentiated agreement, a reconciled diversity, or whatever we name it, is sufficient.[39]

The actual “inner core” which remains and was hidden in a footnote of the “Joint Declaration”,[40] is the question of the Church and its inherent question of the ministry. It is now on the agenda. In the process of the Reformation – with or without the intention of the Reformers – a new type of church has in fact come into being.[41]

In the reformatory sense, the Church is “creatura verbi”;[42] she is understood primarily through the proclamation of the Word and the answer in the faith; she is the assembly of the believers, in which the Gospel is preached in its purity and the sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.[43] Hence, the centre of gravity is no longer in the Church – a blind and vague word, according to Luther[44] – but in the community as the “central reference point of the basic reformatory insights and mental structures”.[45] For that reason the constitution of the Churches of the Reformed tradition is not episcopal but community-synodical and presbyterial; theologically, the episcopate is a pastorate with the function of church leadership,[46] a comprehension which is even more strongly marked in the Reformed Churches than in the Lutheran Churches.[47]

However, in the two last decades there has been some shift. The Lima documents on “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” (1982), in which the apostolic succession in the episcopate is considered “as a sign, though not a guarantee, of the continuity and unity of the Church”,[48] play an important role. Meanwhile, in the dialogue with the Anglican Churches, which hold ecumenically an important intermediary position,[49] the Scandinavian and the US-American Lutheran Churches have taken up the issue of the historical episcopate.[50] The continental European Lutheran Churches of the Leuenberg Community have a different stand; they understand the episcopal and synodical-presbyterial order as legitimate plurality.[51]

There is still need for clarification on ecclesiological issues, especially on the ordained ministry, both ecumenically and within the Protestant world itself. We receive currently different signals from our partners, and it is not easy for us at this time to distinguish in what direction they are moving in ecclesiological terms. The Joint International Dialogue Commission is now working on these issues. The “Faith and Order” Commission has also initiated a consultation process on “The Nature and the Purpose of the Church”[52] which –we hope – will constructively build further on the Lima documents on “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” (1982). Thus, in the dialogue with the Churches of the Reformed tradition, after the clarification on the Doctrine of Justification, the issues still pending are pre-eminently those dealing with ecclesiology. In the Catholic as well as in the Orthodox understanding, these issues represent the key to moving forward on the question of Eucharistic communion.


V. The fundamental problem from a theological point of view

The following objection is often made: it cannot be that just because of the question of church ministry – priesthood, episcopate, Petrine ministry – we should live in separate churches and not participate together in the Lord’s Table. And yet it is so! Theologians of the Orthodox Churches and of the Reformed tradition point out that on the issue of ministry a deeper difference is becoming clear. We shall progress in the ecumenical dialogue only if we succeed in defining more precisely that deeper difference, not in order to cement the diversity but to be able to overcome it in a better way.

For authoritative Orthodox theologians, especially those of the neo-Palamitic School, the basic difference involves the argument about the "Filioque", the Latin addition to the common Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of the old Church.[53] At first sight, this seems a somewhat odd thesis, although it is at least still comprehensible. Yet, in the view not only of many Orthodox theologians, but recently also of Reformatory theologians, the "Filioque" has concrete consequences for the understanding of the Church. For them, it seems to link the efficiency of the Holy Spirit fully to the person and work of Jesus Christ, leaving no room for the freedom of the Spirit, who blows where it chooses (Jn 3:8). According to that reading of the "Filioque", the Holy Spirit is so to say entirely chained up to the institutions established by Christ. For these theologians, this perceived tendency represents the roots of the Catholic submission of charisma to the institution, of individual freedom to the authority of the Church, of the prophetic to the juridical, of the mysticism to the scholasticism, of the common priesthood to the hierarchical priesthood, and finally of the episcopal collegiality to the Roman primacy.

We find similar arguments based on other premises on the Protestant side. The Reformatory Churches are no doubt in the Latin tradition and they generally keep the "Filioque"; against the rebels they affirm with energy that the Spirit is Jesus Christ’s Spirit and is tied to Word and Sacrament. But for them, too, it is a question of the sovereignty of God’s Word in and above the Church, and with it of the Christian human being’s free will, as against a – real or supposed – unilateral juridical-institutional view of the Church.[54]

[1]Unitatis redintegratio(UR)1; Ut unum sint (UUS) 99.

[2]UUS 3; Osservatore Romano 18/19th September 2000.

[3]UUS 3. To the “Fruits of Dialogue”: UUS 41-49.

[4]Cf. the “Declaration Dominus Jesus. On the Uniqueness and the Saving Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church”, August 6, 2000.

[5]Lumen gentium (LG) 8.The exact interpretation of “subsistit” is still a desiderata. Cf. A. Grillmeier’s comments in: LThK Vat.II, vol. 1 p. 174 s; 200-205, and G. Philips’ L’Église et son mystère au Deuxième Concile du Vatican, Paris 1976, 119. Important are the different interpretations given by Cardinal J. Willebrands, “Subsistit in”, Vatican’s Ecclesiology of Communion (1987), in: Information Service 1999/II-III, 143-149, and by Cardinal J. Ratzinger, L’ecclesiologia della Costituzione “Lumen gentium”, in: Il Concilio Vaticano II. Ricezione e attualità alla luce del Giubileo. Ed. R. Fisichella, Milano 2000, 78-80.My interpretation: cf. Art.Kirche III, in: LThK vol. 5 (1996) 1469.On the recent discussion, which goes often beyond the Council’s declaration, P. Lüning. The ecclesiological problem of the “subsistit in” (LG 8) in today’s ecumenical conversations, in: Catholica (1998) 1-23. The interpretation of the “subsistit” by “Dominus Jesus” should be expressly explored. Cf. to that L. Boff, Was wollte das Konzil?, in: Orientierung 64 (2000) 262-264 (with an extensive literary survey); considerably more balanced M. Kehl, Die eine Kirche und die vielen Kirchen, in: StdZ 219 (2001) 3-16.

[6]UUS 13.

[7]LG 8; UR 3.

[8]Johannes Calvin, Unterricht in der christlichen Religion. Istitutio christianae religionis(1539). IV, 2, 11s. Translated and developed by Weber.Neukirchen 1955, 712 s.

[9]LG 15; UR 3; UUS 48; “Dominus Jesus” 17.

[10]UR 4; UUS 12; 15.

[11]J. Meyendorff, The Orthodox Church. New York 1981, 225: “As opposed to Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Church claims to be the true Church of Christ from which Western Christians have separated. Its claims are as exclusive and categorical as those of Rome”. Cf. D. Staniloae, Orthodox Dogmatik, vol. 2.Zurich-Gütersloh 1990, 223 s.

[12]UR 9.

[13]UUS 34.

[14]LG 8; UR 4; 6-8; UUS 15-17.

[15]UUS 34.

[16]UR 4; UUS 15 s; 34 s; 82-85.

[17]UR 4; “Dominus Jesus” 17.

[18]UUS 28.

[19]UR 3; UUS 11.When “Dominus Jesus”, 16, says that only in the Catholic Church is the Church of Jesus Christ fully realized, what is meant can be only the sacramental-institutional dimension of the Church. So understood, such a declaration implies that in other Churches and Church communities the Church of Christ is realized under the sacramental-institutional aspect, not fully but imperfectly.

[20]UR 4; UUS 14.

[21]UR 4 underscores clearly the difference and the non-contradictoriness between individual conversion and ecumenical work.

[22]Thus J. Ratzinger, Gott und die Welt. Glauben und Leben in unserer Zeit. Stuttgart-Munich 2000, 3-88 s.

[23]UR 7 s; UUS 21.

[24]Important works by A. Grillmeier, A. de Halleux, L. Abramowski, etc.

[25]Cf. Wort und Wahrheit, Ed./vol. 1/5, 1974/1989; Chalzedon und die Folgen (FS Bischof Mesrob Kikorian (Pro Oriente, vol. 14), Innsbruck/Vienna 1992.To that: D. Wendebourg, Die eine Christenheit auf Erden. Tübingen 2000, 116/146.

[26]Cf. Dokumente wachsender Übereinstimmung.Published by H. Meyer, H.J. Urban, L. Visher.Vol. 1. Paderborn-Frankfurt a.M. 1983.529-531; 533 s; 541 s (with the Copts); vol. 2 (1992) 571 s (with the Syrians); 575 (with the Copts); 578 s (with the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church); Growth in Agreement. Ed. J. Gros, H. Meyer, W. Rush. Vol. 2, Geneva 2000, 707-708 (with the Armenian-Apostolic Church); 711-712 (with the Assyrian Church of the East).

[27]UR 14; 16.

[28]Cf. Y. Congar, Zerrissene Christenheit. Wo trennten sich Ost und West? Freiburg i.Br. 1959.

[29]To the international dialogue: Documents on increasing agreement, vol. 2, 531-541; 542-553; 556-567; the Balamand document, in: Growth in Agreement, a.a.O. 680-685. Bilateral Dialogue: Orthodoxy in Dialogue. Ed. by Bremer-J. Oeldemann-D. Stoltmann. Trier 1999. Important North-American Dialogue: The Quest for Unity, Ed. J.Borelli and J.H: Erickson, Crestwood-Washington, 1996.

[30]To the issue on the question of the "Filioque" cf. Erklärung des Päpstlichen Einheitsrates, s„ Les traditions grecque et latine concernant la procession du Saint-Esprit, Vatican City 1996.

[31]Paul VI, Address to the World Council of Churches in Geneva (12 June 1984) in: Insegnamenti VII, 1 (1984), 1686; John Paul II, Address to the Plenary of the PCPCU, in: Information Service, No. 98 (1998) 118 ss; UUS 88.

[32]UUS 95.

[33]On this matter, the Orthodox refer always to Canon 34 of the Apostolic Canons, in: Les Constitutions apostoliques, vol. 3, Book 8, 47 (Sources chrétiennes, 336), Paris 1987, 274 s.

[34]Reprinted unchanged in: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Theologische Prinzipienlehre. Steine zur Fundamentaltheologie, Munich 1982, 209.Later, J. Ratzinger has not withdrawn his position, but has defined it against any misunderstanding by clarifying that one should not deduct from it the return to the first millennium and therefore a return oikoumene.Cf. J. Ratzinger, Kirche, Ökumene, Politik, Einsiedeln 1987, 76 s; 81 s.

[35]UUS 61.

[36]We shall mention only the international documents: With the Lutherans: The Gospel and the Church (“Malta Report”) (1972); The Eucharist (1978); Ways to Community (1980); All Under One Christ (1980); The Ministry in the Church (1981); Martin Luther – Witness to Jesus Christ (1983); Facing Unity (1984); Church and Justification (1994). With the Reformed: The Presence of Christ in Church and World (1977). Multilateral dialogues: Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry, Convergence Declarations of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (1982); Confessing one Faith Together. An ecumenical Interpretation of the Apostolic Credo as Known in the Profession of Faith of Nicea-Constantinople (381).

[37]Cf. especially: Justification by Faith.Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII, Minneapolis 1985; Lehrverurteilungen – Kirchentrennend? Ed. by K. Lehmann and W. Pannenberg, Freiburg i.Br.-Göttingen 1986.

[38]Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Official statement and Annex.Frankfurt a.M.-Paderborn 1999.

[39]Cf. H. Meyer, Einheit in versöhnter Verschiedenheit“, in: the same, Versöhnte Verschiedenheit. Aufsätze zur ökumenische Theologie, vol. 1, Frankfurt a.M.-Paderborn 1998, 101-119; K. Lehmann, Was für ein Konsens wurde erreicht? In: StdZ 124 (1999) 740-745; Einheit – aber wie? Zur Tragfähigkeit der ökumenischen Formel von „differenzierten Konsens“, ed. by H. Wagner (Quaestiones disputatae, vol. 184). Freiburg i.Br. 2000.

[40]See above 9. Note 9 calls the attention to the different use of the word “Church” and to the unresolved ecclesiological question connected to it.

[41]I say deliberately: a new type of church and I prefer this formula of Cardinal J. Willebrands (The Notion of “Typos” within the one Church [1970], reprinted in : Information Service 1999/II-III, 130-140) to that of “Dominus Jesus” 17, which says that what is meant is not a church in the true sense. That formulation has to be understood in the sense of the scholastic doctrine of analogy. In that sense, it does not say that the churches issued from the Reformation are non-churches or fictitious churches; it does not exclude, or it rather includes that in comparison with the Catholic understanding of the Church they are churches in an analogous sense.

[42]M. Luther, De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae praeludium (1520), in: WA 6, 561,

[43]CA Art. 7 and 8 (BSELK 61 s); Schmalkaldische Artikel III, 10: Von den Kirchen (BSELK 459 s); Grosser Katechismus Art. 3 (BSELK 653-658); Heidelberger Katechismus, 54.Question (Confessional texts and Church orders, ed.W. Niesel, 43 s); Barmener Erklärung, Art. 3 (ibid. 335 s).

[44]M. Luther. Von Konziliis und Kirchen (1539), in: WA 50, 625.

[45]G. Gloege, Art. Gemeinde, in: RGG vol. 2, 3.Edition 1958, 1329.

[46]Fundamental CA 28 (BSELK 120-134).

[47]Cf. John Calvin, ibid. 714-724, in which Calvin excludes the episcopate from his doctrine on ministries.

[48]Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry,38. Frankfurt-Paderborn 1982, 44.

[49]Important above all the last document of ARCIC: The Gift of Authority- Authority in the Church III, London-Toronto-New York 1999.

[50]The Porvoo Common Statement (1992) (The Council for Christian Unity of the General Synod of the Church of England. Occasional Paper 3); A Formula of Agreement, USA 1997.

[51]Die Kirche Jesu Christi. Der reformatorische Beitrag zum ökumenischen Dialog über die kirchliche Einheit (Leuenberg Texts, 1), Frankfurt a.M. 1995, 34; 56-59.

[52]The Nature and the Purpose of the Church. A Stage on the Way to a Common Statement. Faith and Order Paper 181 (1998).

[53]Cf. on what follows my contribution The Holy Spirit and Christian Unity (not yet published).

[54]Cf. R. Frieling, Amt, Laie – Pfarrer – Priester – Bischof – Papst, Göttingen 2002, 213 s.