Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Unity of the Church: ".. ecumenism of martyrs..."

ZENIT report, under the title "Ecumenism of Martyrs" presented as path to unity, a presentation by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This presentation. Cardinal Koch was speaking as part of a round table during an interreligious gathering organized by the Catholic lay Sant'Egidio Community. The meeting was held in Munich.
"Given that today all Christian Churches and ecclesial communities have their martyrs, we must speak of a real ecumenism of martyrs, which contains within itself a beautiful promise: Despite the tragedy of the divisions between the Churches, these solid testimonies of faith have shown that God himself maintains, at a more profound level, the communion of faith among the baptized, attested by the supreme sacrifice of their life," Cardinal Koch reflected.....

"The ecumenism of the martyrs does not only constitute the nucleus of ecumenical spirituality, which is necessary today," the cardinal said, "but it is also the best example that the promotion of Christian unity and preferential love for the poor are absolutely inseparable."
The Cardinal's remarks are made in reference to a teaching of Pope John Paul II, contained in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint n.84 (my emphasis added):
In a theocentric vision, we Christians already have a common Martyrology. This also includes the martyrs of our own century, more numerous than one might think, and it shows how, at a profound level, God preserves communion among the baptized in the supreme demand of faith, manifested in the sacrifice of life itself. The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met. I have already remarked, and with deep joy, how an imperfect but real communion is preserved and is growing at many levels of ecclesial life. I now add that this communion is already perfect in what we all consider the highest point of the life of grace, martyria unto death, the truest communion possible with Christ who shed his Blood, and by that sacrifice brings near those who once were far off (cf. Eph 2:13).
One of the interesting implications of this teaching is the possibility, at least in principle, that the Catholic Church might canonise, as a martyr, a person who was not a Roman Catholic.

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