This is a splendid article, @JonNC. Thank you for sharing it.
I think, in Europe, it is a bit more positive and optimistic, however, than how this American author sees it, as I think was demonstrated by out joint commemoration of the Reformation on this side of the Atlantic.
As for lay Catholic Apologists being out of the loop – well, thanks be to God, the Pope, the world’s bishops, the theological community as well as the ecumenists are not out of the loop! THAT is what really matters.
Since 1983, we have joined Pope Saint John Paul II in proclaiming Martin Luther as Witness of the Gospel and as Witness of Jesus Christ.
Those of us who saw, with our own eyes, Pope Benedict in his pilgrimage to Erfurt…where he went to pay tribute to Martin Luther, both by speech and by this visit knew – and know – that we were seeing the expression of the Church today about our relations with those who are Evangelical Catholics, as they properly term themselves here in Europe…all of this in the aftermath of Vatican II.
We are liberated from a very dark past that we have moved beyond – thanks be to God! – together with out Lutheran Sisters and Brothers.
For me, most importantly, given the level at which this is happening, the fact that there are laity who do not know – or refuse to accept it and conform themselves to Vatican directives – simply means that they are trying to swim against an inevitable tight that they cannot win. This is the Will of God. This is, as the Council Fathers knew, a divine imperative.
When both soon-to-be Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II begged forgiveness before the World Council of Churches for the past transgressions of the Roman Church and of their predecessors, here was the Church at her finest hour.
As Pope Benedict said, we as Catholics can learn so much from the Lutherans.
My great regret is that the work of Cardinal Bea – of such blessed memory – is so little known outside a relatively limited circle. A greater debt is owed to him than can be expressed for where we stand today.