Augsburg's bishop spoke at the start of bishops' meeting

Bishop Meier: No church has leased the truth for itself

Augsburg - Around 60 bishops of different denominations and nationalities are currently meeting in Augsburg. They want to work more intensively on Christian unity. At the start of the meeting, there were some initial ideas on how this could be achieved.

Published  on 27.02.2024 at 15:16  – 

Bishop Bertram Meier of Augsburg has warned against narrow-mindedness among Christians of different denominations. "No church has leased the truth for itself," said Meier on Tuesday in Augsburg. "Being different is not a danger, but offers the opportunity to learn from one another." Meier was speaking at the start of the 40th Ecumenical Bishops' Meeting of the Focolare Movement. It is taking place in Augsburg until Friday under the motto "Daring Unity". Around 60 bishops from around 30 denominations and 26 nations are attending.

The Focolare spiritual community was founded in 1943 by the Italian teacher Chiara Lubich (1920-2008). It originated within the Catholic Church and has an ecumenical and interreligious orientation. The name comes from a word for hearth fire. According to its own information, the Focolare has around two million members worldwide, or 120,000 members, of which 35,000 members, or 3,500 members, are in Germany.

Meier called on the participants to see the meeting as a "listening school of faith". The meeting is a sign of an "ecumenism of love", as Pope Francis would like it to be. "People meet here in love, without their own house of faith collapsing immediately."

"Ecumenism has made huge progress in the last 100 years"

Focolare President Margaret Karram explained that the "key issue" of the conference was to listen to each other and the Holy Spirit in order to gain new impetus on the path to Christian unity. She spoke about her experiences at the World Synod in Rome: "I can learn with my heart if I keep quiet sometimes."

Brendan Leahy, Catholic bishop from Limerick in Ireland and moderator of hundreds of bishops from all over the world who are close to the Focolare, said: "Ecumenism has made huge progress in the last 100 years. But we all know that a little more is needed." Leahy added that he hoped the meeting would provide an "experience of the Upper Room of Jesus". This experience should then be multiplied with the help of the Holy Spirit. "We are called to experience more deeply how mutual relationships can be a place of experiencing God. We want to let Christ take shape among us."

Charles May, Anglican Bishop from the Highveld in South Africa, emphasised that ecumenism has social benefits. For example, co-operation between the churches in his home country is still contributing to coming to terms with apartheid and to understanding between different ethnic groups. (KNA)