Today the 2nd ecumenical church conference (Kirchentag) opened in Munich under the theme “That You Might Have Hope” with 3 simultaneous outdoor worship services. Over 80,000 participated. Pope Benedict read a message and, for the first time, acknowledged sexual abuse in the German church. 125,000 are registered for the conference, and 300,000 are expected for the closing service on Sunday. Sponsored by Catholic and Lutheran lay organizations and church officials, with participation by pastors and bishops and political leaders and societal figures. Sessions on bible, prayer, social justice; concerts, plays, cultural offerings, youth activities. It’s huge.
You might recall that Fr. Gotthold Hasenhüttl got suspended in 2003 for celebrating a common Eucharist with Protestants at the first such ecumenical Kirchentag in Berlin. This time around everyone seems to be respecting the rules, but not without several Protestants noting that the Catholic Church is dragging its feet on intercommunion and still does not officially consider Protestants to constitute a “church.”
Let us keep praying and working for church unity!