Oracle of Delphi
Atila S. Guimarães - February 28, 2001
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In the years preceding the Millennium, there was much talk of how John Paul II would convoke an important pan-religious meeting that would be decisive for the future of the Catholic Church. Some, like Archbishop John Quinn, were calling for an ecumenical council for the year 2000 with the aim of changing the Papacy to propitiate a swift union of all the religions. I realized that all this in effect was preparing for an important meeting, eventually a council, which would be one of the fundamental marks that would characterize the preparations for and passing of the Millennium. My book Quo Vadis, Petre? (1999) delved more deeply into this matter.|
The Millennium has ended, and in October 1999 Rome was the scene of a re-enactment of the pan-religious journey of Assisi, but it was not the awaited decisive meeting that would change everything. Why the delay in the plan? I have received strong critiques - "exaggerated"! - for having questioned the Pope about where he was heading with the aforementioned initiative, along with others. I continued to wait calmly for some indication that could explain the change in plans. Recently a light appeared at the end of the tunnel.
An interfaith conference in Rome ends in failure
Inside the Vatican, November 1999
The topic was addressed in an interview by Mr. Andrea Riccardi, president of the Society of Sant'Egidio, with the magazine Actualité des Religions (Paris, January 2001, pp.8-9). The Italian Catholic Society of Sant'Egidio is the most famous lay center in the world that spreads ecumenism. Much of what the directors of that society say about ecumenism is taken as words from the "oracle of Delphi," that is to say, a sure interpretation for the mysteries of the present and a penetrating discernment of events for the future.
In the interview, Riccardi tried to immunize his readers against those who "are pessimistic about the future of ecumenism." Attempting to bolster the hope of his followers, he offered these weak arguments: "We have not exhausted the dialogue among us ["Christians"]. Numerous problems persist, born from concrete situations. For example, the problem of the Uniates [the Ukrainian Catholics of the Eastern rite who are not obeying the ecumenical orientation of Rome, are converting many Schismatics to the Catholic Faith and are re-claiming the Russian Schismatic churches], the tensions between the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church, and also between Moscow and Constantinople. On this level I fear a theological dialogue that could be transformed into technical diplomacy. In a contrary sense, I am convinced of the need for a 'dialogue of charity.' A dialogue that does not exclude the dimension of love."
The practical conclusion: Ecumenism is once again beached, left high and dry.
Sant'Egidio admits problems with dialogue
Riccardi, as one who knows the subject well, explained the intentions of the Pope:
"In Tertio Millennio Adveniente , John Paul II expressed a dream: 'We present ourselves on the occasion of the Grand Jubilee, if not totally united, at least much closer to overcoming the divisions of the Second Millennium.' He was hoping for a 'significant pan-Christian meeting' in Rome …. This meeting would have been a very important sign. He could not realize it in the year 2000. But in the near future it will be an obligatory step." Throughout the interview, the president of Sant'Egidio complained about the difficulties encountered by ecumenism. He ended by affirming that "pessimism is in fashion today."
Yet one more high-level confirmation of the failure of ecumenism and an indirect explanation of the reason why the planned pan-religious meeting did not take place in 1999 or 2000.
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