National Catholic Register


‘Salutary Squirming’: Ecumenical Meeting

BY Tom Hoopes

April 27-May 3, 2008 Issue | Posted 4/22/08 at 2:43 PM


According to Father Richard Neuhaus, one address by the Holy Father caused a great deal of “salutary squirming.”

Father Neuhaus was commenting on EWTN after Pope Benedict XVI led an ecumenical prayer service April 18 at St. Joseph’s Church in the Yorkville area of Manhattan.

Participants at the service included 250 national and local Protestant and Orthodox Church leaders.

St. Joseph’s Church was built in the 19th century by the immigrant German community that settled in the area and today serves a diverse population. A Sunday Mass there is still celebrated in German.

At the end of the ceremony, the Pope greeted 10 national and five local ecumenical leaders, three from Orthodox churches, and the rest from Protestant denominations.

“Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself,” said the Pope.

The Holy Father stressed that Churches have to present a united witness in order to be what the Church needs to be in the world.

He called for that “oneness of hope, oneness of faith, and oneness of love that alone will convince the world that Jesus Christ is the one sent by the Father for the salvation of all.”

Benedict has said he “is prepared to do all that is in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism.” He has vigorously reached out to Christians, making remarkable headway with Lutherans and some Orthodox communities.

— Tom Hoopes