(AP) The Roman Catholic Church must figure out what it is doing wrong in the battle for souls, because so many Catholics are leaving the church to join Pentecostal and other evangelical movements, a top Vatican cardinal said Friday.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Vatican’s office for relations with other Christians, told a meeting of the world’s cardinals that the church must undergo a “self-critical pastoral examination of conscience” to confront the “exponential” rise of Pentecostal movements.
Kasper opened his remarks by updating the cardinals and cardinal-designates on an important new document approved by a Vatican-Orthodox theological commission that has been working to heal the 1,000-year schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
In the document, Catholic and Orthodox representatives both agreed that the pope has primacy over all bishops – although they disagreed over just what authority that primacy gives him.
The development is significant since the Great Schism of 1054 – which split the Catholic and Orthodox churches – was precipitated largely by disagreements over the primacy of the pope.
Kasper told the cardinals that the document was an “important turning point,” since it marked the first time that Orthodox churches had agreed there is a universal level of the church, that it has a primate, and that according to ancient church practice, that primate is the bishop of Rome – the pope. Kasper said that the Vatican’s relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, in particular, had become “significantly smoother” in recent years.
“We can say there’s no longer a freeze but a thaw,” Kasper said.