Cardinal Keeler assures NCC General Assembly of Pope Benedict's commitment to ecumenism
Nov 18, 2005
Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore welcomed the annual General Assembly of the National Council of Churches USA to his archdiocese Tuesday and reassured delegates that the Roman Catholic Church -- and the Pope -- are firmly ecumenical.
Hunt Valley, Md. (ncccusa.org, Nov. 9, 2005) -- Appearing at the Assembly's opening session, the Cardinal engaged in a lively banter with Dr. Michael Kinnamon, professor of Mission and Peace at Eden Seminary, and Dr. Eileen Lindner, deputy general secretary of the NCC.
When Kinnamon asked about Dominus Iesus, the Vatican declaration drafted in part by Pope Benedict XVI when he was a cardinal and interpreted by some as anti-ecumenical, Keeler laughed. "I'll talk about Dominus Iesus not because I want to but because you brought it up," he said. "It got misunderstood from the beginning. We are still working very much ecumenically."
The Pope shares this view, Keeler told the delegates. "I've known him for 22 years and I know his commitment to work for unity within the church of Jesus Christ is a sincere one."
The NCC's General Assembly, composed of some 300 representatives from the Council's member communions, will meet in Hunt Valley, Md., until Thursday (Nov. 10).
Lindner asked Keeler to reflect on his role in the recent papal election.
It was immediately clear how much Pope John Paul II prepared the way for the election of his successor, Keeler said.
"John Paul pulled us cardinals together a number of times so we knew each other," he said. The familiarity made deliberations easier.
But there were still moments of awe, Keeler said. "In the Sistine Chapel there are all the frescoes, and Rosini's fresco of Jesus giving the keys to the kingdom to St. Peter -- that's a very invocative one."
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's member faith groups -- representing a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.