Cardinal Kasper preaches at St Martin-in-the-Fields

 Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, preached last night at a healing service at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, on 'Healing and Christian Unity'. The Vicar of St Martins, Reverend Nicholas Holtam suggested it was the first time a member of the curia had addressed a congregation in an Anglican church in England. The Cardinal brought greetings and blessings from Pope John Paul II, who, has vivid memories of his visit to England in 1982, he said. Many years ago, the Cardinal had enjoyed his travels in his Volkswagen van from the south of England to Scotland, and at that time he recognised how much the churches shared the same Christian traditions and common heritage. Cardinal Kasper said that Jesus wanted all his disciples to be as one, and for Christians to be united as one people of God. The challenge of our time is the striving for peace. God wants peace and Christians should be peacemakers. God sent Jesus Christ to heal the wounds of our division so that Christians may be signs of peace and reconciliation. However, the Cardinal said, there is a "different reality", with injustices in the world, conflicts in our lives and tensions and divisions between churches. The divisions between Christian churches are a "scandal on the face of the world." The Cardinal said: "Christianity cannot be proud of its image." The Cardinal stressed the importance of "healing the wounds of our own divisions so that we can heal the divisions of the world." He urged: "let us no longer be suspicious of each other, and work for reconciliation." He praised the work of the ecumenical movement, which he said had been a 'sliver of light in the 20th century." He acknowledged the way Pope John Paul II tirelessly underlines the importance of ecumenicalism, and stressed that much has been achieved over the last thirty-five years, particularly the emergence of a new spirit between churches. Divided churches look at each other not as enemies but as friends. In a "reconciled diversity" he saw encouraging signs for the future, including the World Day For Peace held in 2002, where religious leaders came together for a common purpose. He praised connections made at grassroots level where people work and pray together. Something, he said, that would have been unheard of a few decades ago.

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