CEC, Germany, Constantinople

CEC: theologians engaged in “unity and identity” Four theologians, an Anglican, a Catholic, a Lutheran and an Orthodox, convened in Geneva on February 22nd for a scholarly project on Church Unity promoted by the Commission for “Church in dialogue” of the Conferences of European Churches (CEC). In a communiqué CEC points out that “the purpose of the project is to probe into the concept of Church unity related to the concept of identity”. The four theologians participating in the project are Paul M. Collins, Anglican, from Chichester University in England; Myriam Wijlens, Catholic, from Erfurt University in Germany; Minna Hietamaki from Helsinki, member of the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Finland, and Viorel Ionita, Romanian Orthodox, member of CEC’s Dialogue Commission. The project was conceived in the framework of the plenary “Faith and Constitution” Committee of the World Council of Churches, held past October in Crete. The project envisages an analysis of the theme not only at theoretical and theological level but also at the “level of lived experience” in churches. The project is ongoing until September 2012. “We hope – said Viorel Ionita – that other theological traditions will be included in the future, such as those from free church environments”.Germany: Margot Käßmann resignedThe president of the German Evangelical Church (EKD), Lutheran bishop Margot Käßmann, offered her resignations. The decision was announced during a press conference in Hannover. The reason for her suffered decision is “a serious mistake” which she said she deeply regrets. Last Saturday the police in Hanover stopped the bishop after she ran red light. The result of the alcohol test was three times higher than the legal limit (0.5%). She was asked to hand over her driving licence and reported for drunk driving. Margot Käßmann immediately said she would surrender to the legal consequences of her conduct. “I know how dangerous drink driving is”. The support of 14 EKD Council members was to no avail. “My ministry and my authority as bishop and EKD president are damaged”, she wrote in a statement reported by the online daily “Die Welt”. “In the future I will no longer have the freedom to identify and assess ethical challenges as I have done until now, for reasons related not only to my ministry but also to my self-respect and coherence. My heart tells me very clearly I can’t stay in office with the necessary authority”. “I will step down from all positions effective immediately. I devoted 10 years to the Episcopal office. I will continue serving as pastor of the Lutheran Church in Hanover”. The German Catholic Church conveyed feelings of sympathy to the bishop. In a press release issued by the Bishops’ Conference (DBK) Msgr. Robert Zollitsch writes, “I deplore the resignations of EKD president, Margot Käßmann, with whom I recently started cooperating for common objectives. I have known Msgr. Käßmann for a long time as a person who accepts responsibility, so I can understand her decision. May God bless her in this difficult moment”. Theology scholar Margot Käßmann, 51, was elected first EKD chairwoman past October and the youngest president ever in the history of Germany’s Evangelical Church. Since 1999 and for ten years running she served as bishop of Hanover, the largest regional Church in Germany, with some 3 million church members. Ordained in 1985, she was a committed assistant of the Ecumenical Council of Churches (CEC). She is divorced mother of four girls. Constantinople: the “good wishes” of card. KasperIn a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, who will turn 70 next February 29, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity conveyed his “heartfelt” appreciation for the “apostolic commitment” of the Patriarch over the years. “I have grateful recollection of the many fraternal meetings we have had over the last ten years. The friendship, mutual trust and sincerity which has always characterized our conversations are a great gift and a sign of progress in relations between our Churches. My hope is that Your Holiness may continue to show tireless commitment in contributing to ever deeper knowledge and more fruitful collaboration between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches so as to offer the world a common witness of our faith in our One Lord Jesus Christ”. Born on the island on Imbro, Turkey, on February 29 1940, with the name Dimitrios Archontonis, on October 22 1991, after the death of patriarch Demetrio, he was elected to the Holy Synod as archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, he took office on November 2.

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