07/25/2006, 00.00
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Seoul: Cardinal Kasper meets President Roh after ecumenism seminar

The cardinal delivered the condolences of Benedict XVI to the head of state for victims of a recent flood disaster. He said he was "hopeful" about a peaceful and near reunification of the peninsula. From India, a call to Christian unity has been "welcomed".

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, yesterday met the Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun, and delivered the pope's condolences for victims of floods that recently struck the country. "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI wishes peace to Korean citizens and growth of Korean churches in Christian faith," Cardinal Kasper said.

The German cardinal said he "understood the painful division on the Korean Peninsula" and expressed "sincere hope that the country would enjoy unification in the years to come". President Roh expressed thanks "for the pope's kind words".

Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, the current archbishop of Seoul, and Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, archbishop emeritus, were also at the meeting together with C. Mbang, chairperson of the World Methodist Council.

The meeting came at the end of a seminar on ecumenism that wound up on 21 July in the capital of South Korea, based on the theme: "The Search for Christian Unity: Where We Stand Today". When the event came to a close, the Methodists adhered to the Joint Declaration on Justification agreed between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, which, in practice, eliminated the main theological element of division between Catholics and Lutherans and now the Methodists too.

At the end of the seminar, Fr Tom Michel, secretary of the Office of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, appealed to churches in Asia to consider joining the National Council of Churches (NCC) in their respective countries so as "to promote Christian unity".

From India, D.K. Sahu, secretary-general of the local NCCI – which coordinates Protestant and Orthodox Churches – told our correspondent: "India is many steps ahead in this and is a leading country in the ecumenism sector. We already have a National United Christian Forum comprising the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, the Evangelical Fellowship of India and the NCCI. We also have a working committee that meets quarterly, and we have taken a joint stand on many issues. The Dalit Christian issue, for example, is one matter we are addressing together."

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