are indications that the
theme of future ecumenical
will be ecclesiology: what
the nature of the church, how can diverse
structures be reconciled,
should the apparently intractable
between the churches be
approached? In such discussion,
will be given to the Virgin Mary, model of the Church, member
the Communion of Saints, the
and wholly unique
of the Church." (Vatican II) For
this reason, two recent ecumenical dialogues merit careful study: the
Dialogue VIII in the
United States (from 1983 to 1990,
to the study of the One Mediator,
Saints, and Mary and the Report of
Group de Dombes, published in
1997 and 1998, Marie dans le dessein
de Dieu et la communion des saints.
documents affirm that the Virgin
was present in the early church
also in the life and preaching of the
reformers. It was only in the
period that a silence
Mary enveloped the Protestant Churches. Both documents concur
identifying the principal challenges
agreement regarding Mary: the
of 1854 and 1950; the notion
Mary's cooperation with Christ in the
of redemption, and the invocation
is a major difference in the two documents.
A standard feature of all the documents of the Groupe de Dombes
"the call to conversion," that is, a call
the churches to reexamine their positions
in the light of Scripture, church
history and their own traditions. In
this spirit, Catholics are encouraged
continue the reforms of Marian devotion as outlined in Lumen gentium and
cultus, and Protestants are
to break their silence
the role of the Virgin Mary
to return to the position of the
It is unfortunate that no similar feature - "a call to conversion"
-exists in the Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogue.
of the two documents indicates a major difference in the way Scripture is
interpreted. The Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogue begins with
historical-critical exegesis, and then attempts to formulate a statement of
belief. The Group de Dombes proposes as starting point for the interpretation of
Scripture the faith of the Church as expressed in the Creeds.
The Creeds provide a Trinitarian, Christological, and ecclesial matrix
for interpreting the Scripture.
--Thomas A. Thompson, S.M.
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