Pre-consistory Meeting to Focus on Ecumenism

Cardinals' Day of Reflection Follows "1st Step" With Orthodox

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- As cardinals from around the world arrive to Rome to welcome 23 new members to their college, the day before Saturday's consistory will be marked by prayer and reflection on ecumenism.

The Vatican press office released a communiqué today announcing the details of the special meeting that will begin with prayer and then a greeting from Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will deliver a report titled "Information, Reflections and Evaluation Concerning the Current Moment in Ecumenical Dialogue." Other cardinals will also make contributions on the theme of ecumenism.

The cardinals' meeting comes just a few days after the release of the final document from the Oct. 8-14 plenary assembly of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

The conclusion of that assembly was what Cardinal Kasper referred to as a "modest first step," noting that "for the first time the Orthodox Churches have said yes, this universal level of the Church exists and also at the universal level there is conciliarity, synodality and authority; this means that there is also a primate; according to the practice of the ancient Church, the first bishop is the Bishop of Rome."

The College of Cardinals will later turn attention to the life of the Church in general, with a free exchange of ideas Friday evening. The day of prayer and reflection will conclude with an address by the Holy Father.

Cardinal Araujo Sales, retired archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, told ZENIT that "these meetings of the College of Cardinals help a lot in preventing anything that could damage the unity of the Church and the role of the Pope. They help to confront the challenges of today's world, according to Christ's command: 'That they may be one.'"