DURHAM, England (CNS): While many of the doctrinal differences that divided Christians for centuries are close to being resolved, different approaches to modern ethical questions are making Christian unity appear as distant as ever, said Cardinal Walter Kasper.
“I am very sad we are not able to speak with one voice on these issues to a world that needs to hear,” the cardinal said on January 13 at an international ecumenical conference at Ushaw College, a Catholic seminary in Durham, England.
The cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, received an honorary doctorate on January 12 from the University of Durham and delivered the keynote address on January 13 at the opening of an ecumenical conference organised by the university to discuss steps the Catholic Church and its dialogue partners should take at a time when full Church unity seems distant.
Cardinal Kasper told conference participants that believing Christians cannot give up hope for Christian unity because Church division is “a sin before God and a scandal before the world”.
However, he acknowledged a sense that, after 40 years of what appeared to be major progress toward unity, ecumenical dialogue has come up against serious, unforeseen obstacles.
Differences among Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants over issues such as homosexual activity, abortion, euthanasia and other moral questions “are not on the top of the hierarchy of truths” – like the belief in Jesus as saviour is – “but they are very emotional and, therefore, very divisive”, the cardinal said.
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