It's hard not to notice when the Pope shows up. And you can sometimes say the same when he doesn't. Last fall, Pope Benedict XVI was a notable no-show at a September ceremony to mark 20 years since John Paul II had hosted a groundbreaking gathering of world religious leaders in Assisi, Italy. Some viewed the Pope's absence as a slap to those working for inter-faith dialogue, both inside and outside the Catholic Church,. On Sunday, however, Benedict will be center stage at the most lavish, and well-attended inter-religious ceremony of his papacy, organized by the same Sant'Egidio community that helped launch Assisi. What has changed? Why is Benedict marking 21 years since "the spirit of Assisi" was uncorked, after skipping out on the 20th anniversary?Read the rest here.
(Hat tip to T-19)
On a practical level I understand why he is doing this. But I really do wish he wouldn't. Unfortunately I have read too much about the history of Islam and the way it works to entertain any serious hope for an understanding. My feeling is that we should extend to them the same level of tolerance that they extend to Christians in predominantly Muslim countries, except for the killing them part. I do draw the line there. Beyond that I think they should stay in their part of the world until they learn to play and get along well with others.
With respect to discussions within Christendom, I think my feeling is what is the point? Protestants are Protestants and are not gong to change. The only exception might at one time have been the Anglicans but they reached a fork in the road back in the 70's. Their choice was go Catholic or Protestant. They have clearly made that choice, and they are realistically way past the point of no return. The dream of Anglican-Catholic reunion is dead (with the possible and intriguing exception of the TAC). The sooner Rome grasps this, the better for all concerned. Among Christians the only ones Rome really has any business holding serious talks with are the Orthodox.
The Christian world is fast dividing into two camps, the apostolic churches on one hand and the theological flavor of the moment groups on the other. Sorry if that offends some readers. But from the Roman / Orthodox perspective that’s really what it comes down to. I am perfectly OK with talking to other groups in order to promote improved understanding and mutual tolerance (which I do think is extremely important). But ecumenism for the sake of getting that cheap warm fuzzy is not a good idea. There has been enough dilution of truth. I have something less than zero use for groups like the NCC and the WCC. My profound albeit respectful theological disagreements with the Roman Church notwithstanding I think B-16 is the best thing to hit their side of the Tiber in a LONNNGGG time. The man calls it like he sees it. I may not agree with him all the time. But I have never failed to respect him. Truth is NOT relative.