Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 7, 2002
Renew spiritual ecumenism
Understand Mary's relationship to the Church first, says bishop from Rome
By RENATO GANDIA
"Only us together, with you, can make your dream come true."
- rabbi talking to John Paul
"The transmission of the faith is more fundamental."
The notion of koinonia or communion is the key concept in the ecumenical dialogue, the bishop said.
"Within the communion, we should move towards the renewal of spiritual ecumenism," he said.
When asked about the role of women in the ecumenical movement, Ouellet said, "It seems to me that we need to listen to the experience of women in the transmission of faith."
He underlined women have a significant role in ecumenism and "(they) have strong influence, but not in all prominent ways."
Ouellet cited the examples of contemporary women like Mother Teresa, Chiara Lubich (founder of Focolare movement) and Mother Teclah to support this statement.
During the public talk, Ouellet related his personal experiences in the ecumenical world.
He shared how he was involved in the preparation for the summit of world religious leaders in Assisi in January.
Various pontifical congregations, together with Pope John Paul, wanted to do an ecumenical gesture related to Sept. 11. They planned to invite world religious leaders to Rome.
The pope replied, "Rome is not the place because it is too identified to Catholicism.
"Let's go to Assisi, the city of peace."
Despite their concerns about the pope's health and the weather conditions in winter, their pleadings were over ridden.
Ouellet said, "The holy father was right, not only because he was the holy father. "He simply was right."
They made sure Assisi was about world peace and avoided syncretism - the view that all religions are essentially the same.
During the summit, Ouellet remembered being tense when one rabbi stood up while someone was almost at the end of a presentation. He expected the rabbi to walk out.
To everybody's surprise, the Jewish leader did not walk out, but instead addressed the pope, saying, "Only you John Paul II can bring us all together. But only us together, with you, can make your dream come true."
Ouellet said, "It was a great moment for me and all others who prepared for this event."
On another occasion, Ouellet witnessed how the Orthodox people were crying "Unity!" during the pope's first official visit. Such witnessing remained deep in his heart.
Edified by the sense of veneration of some visiting Greek Orthodox officials, Ouellet also recalled how reverent they were when they venerated the relics at the Vatican.
At first, he wanted to disappear.
He knew the Crusaders brought those relics to the Vatican from Constantinople in the 13th century.
So the bishop was relieved when he was told by one of the Greek Orthodox officials, "God draws straight in crooked lines. The only remaining relics are these ones because the rest were destroyed by the Ottomans."
He also cited how Protestant churches support the Catholic Church on issues such as the way secular media play up stories surrounding scandals in the U.S. "These are small signs that the Spirit is working," Ouellet said.
Certainly there is growth in the communion within the Christian community, he noted.
"If we need motivation for unity, let's look at the children of mixed-marriages. This is one sign that we need to expedite Christian unity, but we also need to be cautious and careful."
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