From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Innsbruck Symposium: Role Of Papacy In
08 Apr 2000 02:10:08
April 8, 2000
Adventist Press Service (APD)
Christian B. Schaeffler, Editor-in-chief
Fax +41-61-261 61 18
CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland
Innsbruck Symposium On Papacy:
Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Discuss Role
in Modern World
Innsbruck/Austria. The Pope often has the duty
to be "a voice crying out in the desert,"
according to Bishop Alois Kothgasser of Innsbruck.
He was speaking at a symposium on the meaning of
the Papacy in today's world at the Faculty of
Theology of the University of Innsbruck, reports
the Catholic News Agency ZENIT in Rome. The
symposium, entitled "Papacy: Hope, Opportunity,
Offence," was held on March 23-24, 2000.
"In a time and a world where everything that can
be done is done, the office of Peter is needed as
an advocate of life, especially for the poor, for
human dignity, for freedom from globalising
pressures and the misuse of science and power,"
explained the Bishop. In the ethical realm, the
Pope is one of the only voices that "protects man
Roman Catholic Bishop Kothgasser explained, that
the Pope also protects the position of the Church
in society. "The service of Peter is necessary to
guarantee the freedom of the Church in all its
manifestations, especially when worldly power
tried to limit the Church." He called the Papacy a
"sign and tool" for the unity of the Church
founded by Jesus Christ. "When the office of Peter
is understood in this way, it is not dominion, but
rather often a very tiring service."
In the discussion after the Bishop's talk,
representatives of other Christian churches in
Austria recognised the role of Pope John Paul II
as "spokesman" of Christianity, though each
presented his own valuation of the Papacy in
Looking back on the Pope's prayer for pardon on
March 12, Austrian Old Catholic Bishop Bernhard
Heitz spoke of a historic "turning point." He said
that his church would gladly take up the Pope's
invitation to dialogue, despite the years of
resentment that have built up. He feels that there
is already a "new vision" of the controversial
dogma of Papal infallibility of 1870 among Old
Catholic theologians. Bishop Heitz said, that
after examining the history of the first
millennium of Christianity, he is ready for a
"historical primacy in closer co-operation with
collegiality," and looking forward to an
Ecumenical World Council under the guidance of
Bishop Herwig Sturm of the Evangelical-Lutheran
Church called Christian unity a "great value," but
at the same time a "toilsome chore." He envisions
the role of the Pope as "Chairman in Truth and
Love." He repeated calls of the German Lutherans
for a shared celebration of the Lord's Supper,
which is not yet possible since the Lutherans do
not accept the doctrine of the real presence of
Christ in the consecrated forms.
Superintendent Helmut Nausner of the United
Methodist Church in Austria said that his church
is "open to everything" with respect to the
Papacy. However, he questioned whether this office
has any ecumenical future. His preference leaned
toward a synodal model of Church government, like
that of the Orthodox today.
The Greek Orthodox theologian Grigorios
Larentzakis (Graz) said that he had no misgivings
about the creation of new Patriarchies within the
Roman Catholic Church.
Former President of the Polish Council of
Ministers, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, spoke on the person
of Pope John Paul II, as a personal friend. He
judged that only with the hindsight of history
will we be able to truly judge the greatness of
Pope Wojtyla. He also spoke about the Pope's role
in the Balkan conflict, in which his efforts went
"to the extreme."
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