Tuesday, April 19, 2005
WHAT THE NEW POPE AND EVANGELICALS HAVE IN COMMON
Ratzinger and Protestants Share Concern about Growing Secularism
By Wolfgang Polzer
Special to ASSIST News Service
VATICAN (ANS) -- Irrespective of basic theological differences evangelicals and the new Pope Benedict XVI also share areas of common concern. On ethical issues such as abortion or homosexuality conservative Protestants are in agreement with former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The 78-year-old German theologian was elected to succeed the late Pope John Paul II., April 19. In the forth ballot more than two thirds of the 115 cardinals in the conclave opted for the former head of the Vatican congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
Ratzinger shares the concern for the effects of spreading secularism in Europe. God is being pushed to the sidelines, he commented in an interview with the German daily “Die Welt” in November.
As one example for the repressive nature of modern secularism Ratzinger mentioned the case of a Pentecostal pastor in Sweden, who was sent to jail because he preached from the Bible about homosexuality. “A society without God will eventually destroy itself”, said Ratzinger.
He also sent greetings to the Ecumenical Confessional Convention, which took place in Freudenstadt, Germany, in October. Ratzinger emphasized the need for Christian cooperation in the face of attempts to marginalize the Christian faith. The convention was organized by evangelical missiologist Prof Peter Beyerhaus, a former University colleague of Ratzinger.
The leader of the mainline Protestant Churches in Germany, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, Berlin, wished the new Pope “God’s blessings in all his decisions, actions and his leadership”. Ratzinger has a clear theological profile and knows the ecumenical dialogue in the land of the reformation well, said Huber.
According to the Bishop the future of Christianity can only be an ecumenical one. Huber also expressed hope for Holy Communion with Protestants. Ratzinger surprised the world when he handed communion to Roger Schutz – the Protestant founder of the Taizé community in France - at the funeral service for Pope John Paul II.
|Wolfgang Polzer (54), is senior news editor of the Evangelical News Agency idea, Wetzlar (Germany), which he joined in 1981. His previous work included four years in the editorial department of the Salvation Army in Germany. In all, he has spent 27 years in Christian media. Wolfgang can be contacted by e-mail at: Wolfgang.Polzer@idea.de.|
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