(Cardinal Kurt Koch in a 2010 photo, courtesy of CNS.)
The President of the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, was recently interviewed by the
German Catholic news agency KNA.
What follows is an English translation of selected questions and answers
from that interview.
Your Eminence, the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity is the occasion
for an ecumenical assessment.
Where do we stand today?
Cardinal Koch: I hope that we are not standing but
rather walking, and that we can take further steps in all the dialogues that we
are promoting. And in fact the
dialogues are continuing. There
are no new major points to mention.
Ecumenism today requires a lot of patience.
In Egypt the new Coptic Patriarch Tawadros has been installed in
office. How are relations between
Rome and this, the largest ancient Eastern Church?
Cdl. Koch: Very
positive. I was present at the
enthronement of the Patriarch and had the privilege of conveying to him a
message, a greeting from the Holy Father, as well as a wonderful gift, a
chalice. This made the new Coptic
Pope very happy, and in my opinion contributed substantially to the possibility
of deepening relations [between our Churches].
KNA: In Egypt now they are about to found a national
council of Churches.
Cdl. Koch: The
Christians in Egypt find themselves at the moment in a difficult
situation. Collaborating with all
of them has to be a concern. I
find it very positive that they are seeking common ways [to proceed].
In 2017 the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is coming
up. What is the status of the
joint declaration that you have drafted for the occasion with the Lutheran
Cdl. Koch: The
Declaration should be published soon;
right now the translations are being prepared. The document will be entitled “From Conflict to Communion”.
Against the background of history it depicts the conflict, but then too
everything that the ecumenical dialogue has accomplished in the past fifty
years toward greater communion:
Where we have been able to ascertain unity, where we have reached agreements
and where the obstacles still remain.
KNA: What about the fresh start in the
Catholic-Orthodox dialogue? What
are you talking about?
Cdl. Koch: The
question about the primacy continues to be in the foreground of this ecumenical
dialogueof course in a larger context:
How, for instance, could the relation between the synodal character of
the Church and the primacy be lived out if ecclesial and Eucharistic “fellowship”
or communion existed. This is a
long process, in which one also encounters stumbling blocks again and
again. I hope that by the end of
2013 or at latest in early 2014 we can organize another plenary assembly and
take a substantial step further at it.
What effects does the Arab Spring have for the situation of the
Christians in the regionand also for ecumenism?
Cdl. Koch: I
have problems with talking about an Arab Spring; often I get the impression
instead that it is an Islamist Winter.
In many countries, for instance in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and also in
Turkey, one can observe a re-Islamization that causes the local Christians
great concern. They fear that in
the future their situation could become even more difficult. This situation calls for more attention
and solidarity from Christians worldwide.
We must listen very sympathetically to our brethren in these regions and
should not project our own ideas onto their situation.
German by Michael J. Miller.]