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Books by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger mentioned in this essay:

he publication of Dominus Iesus, in August 2000, caused worldwide outrage. The document—issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—affirmed the absolute claims of Christianity and the Catholic Church vis-à-vis the other religions. In his book, Truth and Tolerance (German, 2003; American, 2004), Cardinal Ratzinger offered a 284-page answer to the outrage. In the preface, he wrote: "As I looked through my lectures on [Christian belief and world religions] over the past decade, it emerged that these approaches amounted to something like a single whole—quite fragmentary and unfinished, of course, but, as a contribution to a major theme that affects us all, perhaps not entirely unhelpful." These sentiments reveal not only the dominant characteristic of the man—his humility and courage—but the nature of most of his writings.

Ratzinger is acutely conscious of the fragmentary nature of all he has written, but he makes a virtue out of this weakness, which is caused by the simple fact that he was called to sacrifice his preferred life as an academic to serve the Church, first as Archbishop of Munich, then as Prefect for the CDF, and now, of course, as Pope Benedict XVI. As he says in one of his most recent publications, Values in a Time of Upheaval: How to Survive the Challenges of the Future (German & American, 2005), "perhaps the unfinished character of these attempts can help to advance thinking about them." All his writings are contributions to an ongoing debate, first in his own discipline—theology—and later, as he became more a pastor than a scholar, in the public debate about the future of society and the Church's role in it. And despite their fragmentary nature, his writings do "amount to something like a single whole." Joseph Ratzinger is not simply a recognized scholar of the highest quality. He is an original thinker. The result is an inner consistency that marks all his writings, though each piece never fails to surprise with its freshness, originality, and depth.

Augustine or Modernity

From the beginning of his own studies, Ratzinger and his contemporaries in Munich tended to seek an alternative to Neo-Scholasticism, the dominant system of Catholic theology at the time. Neo-Scholasticism was an attempt in the 19th and early 20th centuries to recreate the philosophical and theological "system" of St. Thomas Aquinas. Ratzinger, instead, turned to the great thinkers of the early Church. For his doctoral thesis, he studied the Father of the Western Church—and of Western civilization—St. Augustine. His topic was Augustine's understanding of the Church and thus, by implication, his understanding of the State and the political significance of Christianity. His dissertation, People of God and God's House in Augustine's Doctrine of the Church (German, 1954), is a classic. It is also the root of much of his later theology. 

His postdoctoral dissertation (Habilitationsschrift) was devoted to Thomas Aquinas's contemporary, St. Bonaventure, who was also very much in the Augustinian tradition. It is an analysis of the attempt by the great Franciscan theologian to come to terms with the new understanding of history conceived by the Abbot Joachim of Fiore. Eric Voegelin argued that the speculations of Joachim of Fiore are in large part the source of modernity; they helped replace the Augustinian concept of history that had formed Western Christendom. Ratzinger was not a confirmed Voegelinian—he quotes Voegelin in only one of his early writings—but it is interesting to see how the two men reached similar conclusions from quite different starting points.

In Augustine's view, history is transitory, and empires pass away; only the eternal Civitas Dei (the "citizenry of God," as Ratzinger translates it) lasts forever. Its sacramental expression is the Church, understood as humanity in the process of redemption. By contrast, Joachim proposed a radically new understanding of world history as a divine progression of three distinct eras, the last being the era of the Holy Spirit when all structures (Church and State) would give way to the perfect society of autonomous men moved only from within by the Spirit. This understanding of history amounts to what Voegelin called "the immanentization of the eschaton." It rests on the assumption that the end of history is immanent in history itself—the product of its own inner movement towards ever greater perfection, towards the kingdom of God on earth. This idea is at the root of what we mean today by "progress." It underpins, albeit in different ways, both radical socialism and liberal capitalism. And it has had a profound effect on political life, giving rise to both revolution and secularism. 

Bonaventure, according to Ratzinger, failed in his critique of this progressive theology. But Ratzinger's study of Bonaventure alerted him to the philosophical and theological issues underlying contemporary political life. This is seen, in particular, in his later treatment of the radical forms of liberation theology, based on a Marxist notion of history with its roots in Joachim of Fiore.

Early Writings

It is difficult to give an overview of Ratzinger's publications considering their range, the fragmentary nature of most of them, and their sheer volume—some 86 books, 471 articles and prefaces, and 32 other contributions (according to the latest list compiled in February 2002), averaging about 30 (at times, very brief) entries a year in recent years, not counting official documents issued by his Congregation. What follows must be restricted to some of his more representative scholarly writings.

As a professional academic in Freising and Bonn, his early writings were devoted to the basic principles and presuppositions of theology. He stressed the affinity between reason and revelation (and so the Church's appreciation of philosophy as an ally in its enlightened critique of mythological religions). Reason for Ratzinger is our capacity for truth (and so for God). Like language, reason is at the same time both personal and communal, as indeed is revelation, the social dimension of which is found in the Church. His entire theological opus is rooted in Scripture, the ultimate but not the only norm of all theology. Although he judiciously uses the findings of modern critical scholarship, he goes beyond them in the spirit of the Church Fathers, whose interpretation of Scripture is based on the unity of the Old and New Testament (the latter being the fulfillment of the former) and the unfolding of Tradition under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

The early period was greatly influenced by the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath. Ratzinger, a peritus or expert advisor to the Council, published several commentaries on texts issued by the Council as well as personal reflections on it and its aftermath. Dealing with the vexed question of the universal nature of salvation and the particular nature of the Church, which the Council had posed with renewed sharpness, he developed his understanding of salvation in terms of Stellvertretung (representation or substitution): just as the incarnate Word of God gave his life "for the many," so too individual Christians live not for themselves but for others, while the Church exists not for itself but for the rest of humanity. His major writings in this area include Revelation and Tradition (with Karl Rahner, 1965), The New People of God (German, 1969), and the Principles of Catholic Theology (German, 1982; American, 1987), perhaps his most important academic writing. He would later return to these early fundamental theological concerns in such books as The Nature and Mission of Theology (German, 1993; American, 1995) and Called to Communion (German & American, 1991). 

Doctrine of the Faith

In his middle period (at Münster, Tübingen, and Regensburg), Ratzinger produced his most famous book: Introduction to Christianity (German, 1968, revised, 2000; American, 1969), translated into some 19 languages, including Arabic and Chinese. Originally a series of public lectures on the faith, which Ratzinger gave in the summer term of 1967 for students of all faculties of the University of Tübingen, it opens with a masterly attempt to situate the question of belief and its communal expression in the modern world before going on to comment on the contents of the Creed. It is one of his many purely theological tracts, which range in topic from creation to eschatology, from the interpretation of Scripture to the principles of fundamental theology, from ecumenism to catechetics and the subject closest to his heart: the Eucharist and the liturgy. These tracts are not simple affirmations of orthodoxy. He approaches every topic by way of the (often unspoken) questions posed by contemporary culture and the state of contemporary theological scholarship.

The most significant book of this middle period is perhaps his Eschatology—Death and Eternal Life (German, 1977), which is a systematically worked out textbook, the aim of which is to overcome the hijacking of eschatology for political purposes and recover its transcendent and personal dimensions. This period is also marked by his growing concern with developments in catechesis—the handing-on of the faith in schools and colleges—as reflected in a talk he gave in France, which caused quite a storm at the time: Mediating Faith and Sources of Faith (German, 1983). This concern prepared him for the day when, as Cardinal Prefect, he chaired the commission set up by Pope John Paul II to oversee the composition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, one of the most significant achievements of the previous papacy.

As Cardinal Archbishop of Munich and then as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger continued to research and publish in academic journals as a private theologian—quite independent of his position as Prefect. These publications were sometimes part of his own homework in preparation for composing the official documents that carry his signature. His publications during this (his third or later) period included various sermons, reflections, and spiritual exercises. All are marked by a deep spirituality, simplicity of language, and beauty of expression, such as To Look on Christ: Exercises in Faith, Hope and Love (German, 1989; American, 1991). His pastoral concern also produced some of his finest writings on the Eucharist and the liturgy, such as The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000), which he wrote during his vacation in Regensburg in the hope that it would give rise to a liturgical renewal like the one sparked by Romano Guardini's similarly titled book in 1918.

In this final period (before his election as Pope), his theological writings tend to be more and more determined by pastoral concerns and later by the various issues that called for an authoritative response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, such as liberation theology, developments in biotechnology, New Testament attitudes to the Jews, and, most recently, the relationship between Christianity and the world religions, one of the topics he had dealt with in his early formative period as an academic theologian. His mature reflections on the latter topic may be found in Truth and Tolerance, mentioned above.

Theology and Politics

Ratzinger's reflections on morality go back to his middle period (see, e.g., Principles of Moral Theology, German 1975), while his theology of politics can be traced back to his earliest research—his doctoral and post-doctoral theses—and to his first writings as an independent author, such as Christian Brotherhood (German, 1960) and The Unity of the Nations: A Vision of the Fathers of the Church (German, 1971). The latter is fascinating, among other things, for its insights into nationalism's potential evil when it becomes an absolute and its threat to the Church, as first perceived by Origen of Alexandria, the third-century founder of speculative theology. As Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger's pastoral concerns gave rise to his mature theology of politics, early intimations of which can be found, for example, in the twelve sermons published under the title, Christian Faith and Europe (German, 1981).

A representative selection of his writings on the theology of politics (including an important essay on liberation theology) may be found in Church, Ecumenism, and Politics: New Essays in Ecclesiology (German, 1987; the English translation, 1988, is rather poor and there is even a large passage missing). He describes this collection as "essays in ecclesiology"—politics, like ecumenism, being but an aspect of his theology of the Church. His theology of politics combines a critique of modernity (understood as the attempt to create a perfect society by social engineering as justified by one or another political ideology) with an attempt to delineate the contribution of Christianity to a humane society and to modern democracy. Here conscience or personal moral responsibility plays a key role, as does the recognition (already found in the New Testament) that there is no place for a "political theology" (like liberation theology) and, related to this, that there is no unchanging template for politics (and so no justification for political ideology). Politics is the "art of the possible," the arena of practical reason (of prudence and justice), and so of compromise—albeit within moral parameters that are, in principle, non-negotiable (though today they are hardly recognized as such due to the dominance of rationalism and utilitarianism). Also significant for an appreciation of his political thought is the collection of talks published under the title Turning Point for Europe? (German, 1991; American, 1994) and, above all, Truth, Values, Power: Litmus Tests for a Pluralist Society (German, 1993), which contains his most important contribution to moral theology, namely his understanding of conscience.

In Values in a Time of Upheaval, Ratzinger discusses ways of recovering, in a world roiled by globalization and multiculturalism, a moral consensus that is both objective and universal. In it, he returns to the question of the relationship between faith and reason that was the subject of his inaugural lecture in Bonn in 1959 as a fledgling theologian. Now the topic emerges as an aspect of the challenges posed by the undermining of traditional means of orientation within all societies. Faith and reason, revelation and enlightenment, need each other in order to liberate the potential in each to confront, and help overcome, the dangers that threaten humanity.

Politics and Ethics

Ratzinger's contribution to political and ethical thought is less well known, despite the fact that he was made a member associé étranger in the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques of the Institut de France in 1992 in recognition of his writings and perhaps his public stances in these areas—he replaced the Soviet dissident nuclear physicist, Andrei Sakharov. For more than 40 years, Ratzinger has written extensively in response to social and political developments in Europe and the world. His latest book, The Europe of Benedict in the Crisis of Culture (Italian, 2005), is made up of three papers he read on various occasions dealing with this crisis. 

A brief discussion of a chapter in Church, Ecumenism, Politics might suffice for a taste of Ratzinger's theology of politics. It is a classic expression of his thought in this area (despite the inadequate translation), and is entitled, "A Christian Orientation in a Pluralist Democracy?" The question mark is important.

Ratzinger is acutely aware that modern democracy cannot stand on its own but needs other moral resources to maintain itself. He looks at the pluralist democracies of Europe and notes their many weaknesses, particularly their tendency to expect too much from society. This attempt to create a new world that will finally, definitively, be a better world is the greatest threat to democracy itself. Behind this threat is the persistence of the Gnostic dream of establishing the Kingdom of God within history once and for all. "The longing for the absolute in history is the enemy of the good within it." The myth of the creation of a perfect society here on earth engenders revulsion against the imperfections of existing society and can engender anarchy, in the irrational hope that once the present corrupt society has been destroyed, a new and better world will emerge. This is the seedbed of most political terrorism.

Ratzinger distinguishes three interrelated aspects of the threat to democracy. The first is the assumption that perfect justice can be achieved simply by changing the economic, social, and legal structures of society. A "perfect society" of the future would supposedly be a society liberated from all kinds of exploitation and injustice by new structures (in other words, social engineering). In fact, it would "free" the members of society from the continual moral effort needed to achieve justice in society. Such a "liberation" would in effect amount to nothing less than the abdication of personal responsibility and personal freedom. It presupposes perfect tyranny. But "neither reason nor faith ever promises us that there will be a perfect world." To toy with the idea is to encourage a false "enthusiasm bent on anarchy." Today's pluralist democracy, for all its imperfections, allows a certain measure of justice to be achieved within clear limits, and some improvement is always possible. For democracy to continue to develop, it is urgently necessary to acquire again "the courage to accept imperfection"—and to learn to appreciate that human affairs are constantly endangered and so call for constant vigilance. Any moral appeal based on the promise of a perfect society in the future is in fact profoundly immoral—it encourages a flight from morality, from free, human, prudential decisions, toward some form of utopia.

The attempt to make morality with all its shortcomings superfluous by promoting the creation of a perfect society has another root. This is the one-sided concept of reason characteristic of modernity, what Vaclav Havel likewise calls impersonal reason. Anything that cannot be quantified, calculated, or verified by "scientific experimentation" is regarded as irrational, illogical. This amounts to the abolition of morality as such. Human decision-making is reduced to an attempt to balance the foreseen advantages or disadvantages of a proposed course of action. Morality becomes personal preference—and so "law has the ground cut from under its feet." If there is no such thing as objective morality, then the law can no longer be conceived as giving legal protection to that which is intrinsically good and forbidding what is intrinsically wrong; it becomes a mere means for preventing opposing interests from clashing with one another. When moral reason is conceived as basically irrational—merely a matter of subjective preference—law can no longer be referred to as a fundamental image of justice but becomes the mirror of the predominant view of the experts or majority opinion. Since views and opinions in society are subject to constant change—and indeed can be profoundly unjust—it is obvious that justice cannot be achieved in this way. Society and the state can only survive if we succeed in re-establishing a fundamental moral consensus in society.

The third threat to modern democracy embraces and extends the previous two. If people are convinced that all there is to life is what we experience here and now, discontentment and boredom can only increase, with the result that more and more people will look for some kind of escape in a search for "real life" elsewhere. Escapism and various forms of "dropping out" become endemic. "The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia," Ratzinger states categorically. "I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes." One such illusory hope is the construction of a perfect society in the future, which Marx claimed could only come about if people first abandoned God.

Tendencies of Christianity

The modern state is an imperfect society, not only in the sense that its structures will necessarily be as imperfect as its members, but also in the sense that it needs a source outside itself in order to be able to survive and thrive. The question is: what source? Before recommending Christianity, Ratzinger engages in a self-criticism of Christianity as a historical entity and a political force. As a human phenomenon, Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican) is also subject to the ambiguity of the human condition. In the course of its history, it too has given rise to movements and social tendencies that have unhealthy implications for political life and that cannot be ignored. Ratzinger considers three such tendencies.

The first is to misunderstand Christian hope in either purely otherworldly terms or as something to be looked forward to here on earth. The first error encourages Christians to neglect life in society for the sake of the world beyond. The second is the Gnostic temptation to create the kingdom of God on earth. True Christian hope is the mean between these two extremes. It is the theological virtue that enables Christians to endure injustice patiently and to work unceasingly for justice in this world in anticipation of the Final Judgment beyond: "What you did to the least of these little ones," the Eternal Judge will tell us at the end of time, "you did to me." 

The second unhappy Christian tendency is the rejection of justification based on human effort ("merit"), which means that human endeavor is considered to be of little consequence for salvation. The resulting notion of holiness based on grace alone, which is only granted to the "saved," permits no accommodation with those who are not "justified" or "saved." This in turn promotes a black-and-white picture of human society and rules out any compromise, with disastrous results. Since politics is the art of the possible, compromise is essential for political life.

The third tendency is really a danger inherent in the very nature of Christian monotheism, namely the Christian claim to truth, which has more than once led to political intolerance. There is but one God, who revealed himself in Christ. Consequently, Christianity could not fit into the Roman concept of tolerance based on polytheism. The Romans considered the various cults in the empire as religious clubs, each free to organize its own private laws and follow its own gods. But Christianity could not accept such a place in society, because it would reduce Christ to one god among many. Christian belief implied a claim to public recognition comparable to the State's. It also denied the State's claim to absolute obedience. Christianity has from its origins been the adversary of all forms of State totalitarianism. But the claim to ultimate truth can result—and has in the past resulted—in political intolerance once the Church itself becomes a political force. Theocracy is an inherent danger, meaning not simply rule by priests (that has been extremely rare), but the attempt to rule society according to explicit religious beliefs, as today in the case of Islam. Theocracy is thus inimical to the basic understanding of political life found in the New Testament. But it is an ever-present temptation.

The Central Question

The central question, as Ratzinger sees it, is: "How can Christianity become a positive force for the political world without [itself] being turned into a political instrument and without on the other hand grabbing the political world for itself?" His answer again is threefold.

First, from its origins in the life of Christ, Christianity on the whole has refused to see itself as a political entity. One of the three temptations faced by Christ at the beginning of his public ministry was to transform the kingdom of God into a political program. "My kingdom is not of this world," Jesus affirmed. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." Caesar represents the State, the realm of political life, which is the realm of practical reason and human responsibility. According to Ratzinger, the New Testament recognizes an ethos or sphere of political responsibility but rejects a political theology, i.e., a political program to change the world on the basis of revelation. Thus all attempts to establish a perfect society (the kingdom of God on earth) are rejected by the New Testament. The New Testament rejection of justification by one's own effort is likewise a rejection of political theology, which would claim that a perfect society based on justice could be established by human effort alone. Perfect justice is, rather, the work of God in the hearts of those who respond to his love (grace). Justice in society cannot be achieved simply by changing the structures of society. It is, instead, the temporary result of continued imperfect efforts on the part of society's members. To accept this is to acknowledge the imperfection that characterizes our human condition and to accept the need to persevere in one's own moral effort. Such endurance in trying to do what is right, to find the right solution to the practical difficulties that arise from daily life in common, is made possible by grace and the promise of everlasting life and ultimate victory in Christ. "The courage to be reasonable, which is the courage to be imperfect, needs the Christian promise [i.e., the theological virtue of hope] to hold its own ground, to persevere."

Second, Christian faith awakens conscience and thus provides a necessary foundation for the ethos of society. Faith gives practical content and direction to practical reason. It provides the necessary coordinates for practical decision-making. The core of the crisis of modern civilization is the implosion of the profound moral consensus that once marked all the great traditions of humanity, despite their superficial differences. If there is nothing intrinsically right or wrong, conscience can be relegated to the private sphere and law can no longer be regulated by morality. Accordingly, the most urgent task for modern society is to recover morality's meaning and its centrality for society, which is constantly in need of inner renewal. A State can only survive and flourish to the extent that the greater number of its citizens are themselves trying to do what is right and avoid what is wrong—insofar as they are truly trying to act in accordance with their conscience and striving to become virtuous. Thus genuine moral formation, by which one learns how to exercise one's freedom, is essential for the possibility of establishing justice, peace, and order in society. Moreover, it is important to remember that the basic morals of modern Western society are the morals of Christianity, with its roots in Judaism and classical Greek thought. It is the residue of these that, filtered through the Enlightenment, gives modern democracy its internal ethical framework. When the Christian foundations are removed entirely, nothing holds together any more. Reason needs revelation, if it is to remain reasonable—if it is to recognize those limits which define us as human beings.

The final point touches on a most sensitive aspect of the interconnection between Christianity and modern pluralist democracy. Today few will deny Christianity the right to develop its values and way of life alongside other social groups. But this would confine Christianity to the private sphere, just one value system among other, equally valid ones. Not only does this contradict the Christian claim to truth and universal validity, it robs Christianity of its real value to the State, which is that it represents the truth that transcends the State and for that very reason enables the State to function as a human society guided by the conscience of its members. 

Thus we have the dilemma. If the Church gives up its claim to universal truth and transcendence, it is unable to give to the State what it needs: the strength of perseverance in the search for what is good and just—as well as the source of its ultimate values. On the other hand, if the State embraces the Christian claim to truth, it can no longer remain pluralist, with the danger that the State loses its own specific identity and autonomy. Achieving a balance between the two sides of this dilemma is the prerequisite for the freedom of the Church and the freedom of the State. Whenever the balance is upset and one side dominates the other, both Church and State suffer the consequences. Christianity is the soil from which the modern State cannot be uprooted without decomposing. The State, Ratzinger insists, must accept that there is a stock of truth, which is not subject to a consensus but rather precedes every consensus and makes it possible for society to govern itself. 

The State ought to show its indebtedness in various ways, including the recognition of the validity of the public symbols of Christianity—public feast days, church buildings and public processions, the Crucifix in schools, etc. Yet such public recognition can only be expected, adds Ratzinger, when Christians themselves are convinced of their faith's indispensability, because they are convinced of its ultimate truth. 




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.