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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

German bishop prepares for funeral of ecumenism

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The Regensburg Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller has accused representatives of the German Protestant Church of driving "a wedge" into the Catholic Church. In the interview with PNP, the Bishop responsible for the ecumenical movement within the German Bishops' Conference attacked "controversial statements" during the Pope's visit to Germany and put Catholic-Protestant ecumenism as a whole in question.

Muller was particularly critical of the Berlin Protestant bishop Markus Dröge, who had written that Benedict XVI had "no concept of ecumenism". Such statements are "just to be dismissed as totally without basis," said the Regensburg Bishop, stating: "If one continues on this line, this would be the death of ecumenism."

Even at the Synod of the Protestant Church in Germany over the weekend there had been criticism of the Pope's visit. The Regensburg Bishop dismissed remarks that Benedict XVI had made appreciative comments in Erfurt about the reformer Martin Luther privately, but not in his sermon. "That would also have been quite unlutheran" says Müller: "In a sermon interpreting John 17, the content must be about Christ and the unity of the disciples, but not a historical-theological evaluation of Martin Luther." In the preceding discussion, however, "the Pope singled out a point that is also ecumenically fruitful: Luther's radical God-centeredness". Mueller explained that prior to the Pope's visit "a treacherous game with high expectations" was played: "Not only that the Pope should make a dramatic ecumenical step - he should water down Catholic doctrine. '" After the Pope's visit there was now "scattered" attempts from the Protestant side, to place a "bacterium (literally a fungus which eventually splits a tree trunk)" into the Catholic Church "in which places the Pope and bishops against the alleged majority of the Catholic population." Müller: "They want to pull a part of the Catholic faithful onto their own side or alternatively to protestantise the Catholic Church."
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