Cardinal Kaspar seeks to reassure Protestants

 Following the backlash from Orthodox and Protestant groups to the Vatican's document on other denominations, issued on Tuesday, Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Holy See's spokesperson on Christian Unity said that there was no "objective reason" to feel harshly treated. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Kasper sought to reassure other denominations that the Catholic Church remains committed to dialogue with other Christian denominations. The Cardinal said the document contained nothing new and that there was no "objective reason for indignation or motive to feel themselves harshly treated." In the document Pope Benedict reasserted the primacy and authenticity of the Roman Catholic Church as being founded by Jesus Christ, who named Saint Peter as the first Pope. He pointed out that those Christian communities that had broken away from Papal authority, particularly during the Reformation, were not part of the Roman Catholic Church. The statement brought swift criticism from many Protestant leaders. "It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity," said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries. "It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the reformed family and other families of the church," the group said. Thomas Wipf, president of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, said the original characteristics of the church of Christ are preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments. "That - and no more - is needed to be able to be seen as an authentic expression of the one church of Christ," he said. "The Gospel, and not apostolic succession in the sacrament of ordination, constitutes the church," he said. "We recognize the Roman Catholic Church as a church. It is and remains regrettable that this is not made possible the other way around." In an interview with Interfax news agency, The Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Russian Orthodox office for ecumenical dialogue, commentedt: "the document s an honest statement. It is much better than the so-called 'church diplomacy.' It shows how close or, on the contrary, how divided we are." Cardinal Kaspar said a careful reading would show that the Vatican does not deny that Protestant churches are churches, but only stated that the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church is one that is traceable through its bishops to Christ's original apostles. "Without doubt at the basis of dialogue is not what divides us but what unites us, and that is larger than what divides us," Kasper said. Source: Vatican Radio

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