“Once, at an ecumenical reception, I remarked that perhaps much of our ecumenical reconciliation within Christianity has to do with the fact that we were deprived of our power. No longer are we seventeenth-century Protestant and Catholic states that went to war with each other, nor does the pope rule over an ecclesiastical state that wages wars. We live in secular countries. As far as issues of power are concerned, we are marginalized, which is probably also a blessing.
We must remember that Christians have often been persecuted, and still are today. It’s interesting that historically our opponents made no distinctions among the various confessions. Christians helped one another in the concentration camps and the gulag; they were all simply Christians. We had to become powerless to surrender ourselves to Christ’s power and put our trust in him – not in weaponry, not in political power, but “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” as Paul says (1 Cor 2). The lovely thing is that we recognize one another anew, not from the standpoint of our confessions, but with a view to Christ, Whenever I encounter a brother or sister and I see that they really love the Lord, then there is an immediate basis for communication.
Of course, there are still enormous differences between confessions – in how we worship, for instance – but we know that the center is the same, the center is Christ. As Pope Benedict XVI told us, “What is meant by ecumenicism? Simply this: that we listen to one another and learn from one another what it means to be a Christian today.”Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, OP, interviewed by Kim Comer in “Why Inheritance Matters” in Plough, No. 26, pages 46-47.