Cardinal error

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The Independent Online

The Vatican would not dream of being offensive - absolutely not. It merely wants to suggest that only Catholics can claim to be real-McCoy members of the Christian church. For the 21st century, when ecumenical dialogue has taken hold, it is a sad and baffling line to take. The Pope has achieved much during his two decades in the Vatican. The message contained in yesterday's 30-page document helps to undermine all that has been achieved.

The Vatican would not dream of being offensive - absolutely not. It merely wants to suggest that only Catholics can claim to be real-McCoy members of the Christian church. For the 21st century, when ecumenical dialogue has taken hold, it is a sad and baffling line to take. The Pope has achieved much during his two decades in the Vatican. The message contained in yesterday's 30-page document helps to undermine all that has been achieved.

We are told that it is incorrect to talk of "sister churches", when referring to the Protestant and Orthodox churches. The Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O'Connor, insists that no slight is intended, and that the document is written "principally for Catholic bishops and theologians". But we must hope that he does not, in his heart, subscribe to the unbending beliefs of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, author of the document and a man to whom ecumenism is quite alien. The Archbishop of Canterbury rightly complains that the document does not reflect the "deeper understanding" that has been achieved by dialogue in recent years.

Religion in the 21st century must, above all, be about tolerance and acceptance. Without that, it loses all meaning.

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