EASING THE WAY TO
will seek common ground
WHILE one could not expect the Church to compromise on doctrinal matters in order to make reunion easier, one could expect compromises in the spheres of liturgy, organisation, and discipline.
This statement was made by Cardinal Bea, S.J., the President of the General Council's Advisory Board or Secretariat in a recent interview granted to the Italian Jesuit periodical Civilta Cattolica.
"There is already, within the Catholic Church, a diversity of rites, of languages, of organisation, and of discipline, and there are therefore possibilities of concessions on these points." said the Cardinal.
" But these are matters which need to be examined in each particular case, to be studied with much level-headedness and prudence, leaving the -decision to the jurisdiction of higher authorities.
This secretariat, besides the immediate aim of helping nonCatholic Christians to follow the Council's activities, has the wider and more general aim of helping non-Catholic Christians to discover unity with the Roman Catholic Church: to establish, for example, what the situation is in different countries and communities, that is to say, what they have in common with the Roman Catholic Church with regard to doctrine, discipline, and worship, and to settle in what things they diverge from it; to see, also, what are the wishes of different communities concerning reunion and to see in what way one could make the road towards reunion easier for them, etc."
Asked whether, in view of the magnitude of these tasks, the secretariat would also be concerned with relations with the Orthodox, Cardinal Bea replied:
"The matter has not yet been decided. However, it seems improbable, since the Congregation for the Oriental Church is already busy in this sphere, at least in principle. Nevertheless, one must allow for collaboration between the new secretariat and the Congregation for the Oriental Church on several questions, for example on those concerning the relations between the Orthodox and the Protestants and between the Orthodox and the World Council of Churches. etc."
Discussing the obstacles, the prospects, and the hopes on the Continued on page 7, col. 2
from P. I
road to unity, the Cardinal said that the wish for reunion, and movements aimed at reunion, were much stronger in the " old world" -England, France. Germany, and Switzerland than in the United States, which was where he was interviewed.
In European countries this wish t for reunion derived for the most part from Biblical studies, and he quoted the example of the "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament edited by Q. Kittle] and G. Friedrioh which "has shown how the original doctrinal positions of the Protestants do not correspond on several points with the teaching of the New Testament "as was, for example, the case with
the famous (and, for Luther,
fundamental) doctrine of justification by faith alone.
In England, on the other hand, it was mainly historical research on the Fathers and the early Councils which encouraged the movement towards reunion.
" As far as the ' new world ' is concerned." continued the Cardinal, " the fact that Protestants are divided into a very large number of groups and denominations creates special difficulties and obstacles. These denominations
have not split off directly from the true Church (as was the case, at least in part, in the old world) but from communities which had already separated from the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope John himself. in his letter to the clergy of Venetia in May, 1959, had not said that he was expecting reunion at once but first a drawing closer together, then contact, and finally complete reunion of so many brethren separated from their former common mother.
" If he was speaking only of reunion with the Orthodox, this is because this corresponds to the actual state of affairs. in the sense that the Orthodox are much closer to the Roman Catholic Church than any Protestant denomination. Basically it is only the doctrine of the primacy and the infallibility of the Sovereign Pontiff that divides them from the Catholics.
"On the other hand, to consider matters from a supernatural point of view, one can-and one must-be optimistic, despite all the obstacles, as is the Holy Father himself. The possibilities of the Spirit of God. the Spirit of Unity, are infinitely superior to the possibilities of men: they must not be measured by our poor standards."