Home > Queensland Synod News > Pope Benedict hails dialogue with Reformed churches

Pope Benedict hails dialogue with Reformed churches

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI has praised dialogue with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), saying the dialogue is helping to surmount "tragic divisions" between Christians going back to the 16th century Protestant Reformation.

The Pope was speaking at the Vatican on 7 January to a delegation of the Geneva-based alliance led by its president, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

"I pray that our meeting today will itself bear fruit in a renewed commitment to work for the unity of all Christians," said Benedict, echoing remarks after his election in April when he pledged that promoting Christian unity would be his "primary task".

WARC groups more than 200 Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches, whose roots go back to the 16th-century Reformation which broke with the Roman Catholic Church and whose leaders included John Calvin, the Geneva-based theologian, among others.

Kirkpatrick, in his address at the meeting with Pope Benedict, said he hoped for further steps on the path to unity.

"There is still much to be done to move beyond our past condemnations of one another, to truly respect one another as parts of the one body of Jesus Christ, serve God together without worrying about inhibitions in our nations and to come together at the table of our Lord," Kirkpatrick said.

He also urged joint action on issues of social justice.

"We are eager during our visit here at the Vatican to pursue with you how Catholic and Reformed Christians might be partners together for God’s justice in a world wracked by poverty, war, ecological destruction, and the denial of human freedom," Kirkpatrick noted.

Pope Benedict hailed the Catholic-Reformed dialogue as helping to overcome differences.

The dialogue had "made an important contribution to the demanding work of theological reflection and historical investigation indispensable for surmounting the tragic divisions which arose among Christians in the sixteenth century", he said.

The Pope also spoke of the need for "a purification of memory", noting his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had given a "powerful impulse" to this endeavour.

"I am pleased to learn that several of the Reformed Churches which are members of the World Alliance have undertaken similar initiatives," Benedict added.

WARC general secretary the Rev. Setri Nyomi said after the meeting: "This visit was an important symbol of WARC’s commitment to Christian unity as well as to working with other Christian world communions in transforming the world into more just communities."

Photo : Pope Benedict XVI