Is this possible?
A Vatican official has floated the idea of a shared “ecumenical catechism” as one of the potential fruits of 40 years of dialogue among Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches.
“We have affirmed our common foundation in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity as expressed in our common creed and in the doctrine of the first ecumenical councils,” Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told representatives of the churches.
Opening a three-day symposium at the Vatican to brainstorm on the future of ecumenism, Cardinal Kasper said it is essential “to keep alive the memory of our achievements” in dialogue, educate the faithful about how much has been accomplished and prepare a new generation to carry on the work.
He said the members of his council “proposed an ecumenical catechism that would be written in consultation with our partners,” but “we do not yet have any idea how such a catechism could be structured and written.”
One thing for sure, he said, is that there is a need for “an ecumenism of basics that identifies, reinforces and deepens the common foundation” of faith in Christ and belief in the tenets of the creed. The churches may hold those positions officially, but if their members do not hold firmly to the basics of Christian faith, the dialogue cannot move forward, the cardinal said.
Before you answer, consider: Isn’t there such a thing as what C. S. Lewis calls “mere Christianity” that all strains of Christianity agree on? What about the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed, which all of these groups, I believe, say they affirm? Couldn’t there be a catechism based on those?
I think what is most problematic in this proposal is that the mainline Protestant groups that have forged agreement with Rome in their very stance towards doctrine would be unwilling to accept a catechism of any kind.
I would argue that there IS an ecumenical catechism already: Luther’s Small Catechism. Seriously. It bridges what it most precious in both the Catholic and the Protestant traditions.
I would love to hear a review of that Catechism from you non-Lutherans. Read it–it isn’t long–and post your thoughts.
HT: Paul McCain