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LAMBETH: Rome warns Canterbury of "Spiritual Alzheimers"

LAMBETH: Rome warns Canterbury of "Spiritual Alzheimers"

By Hans Zeiger in Canterbury
July 23, 2008

CANTERBURY-In a plenary address to Anglican bishops gathered at the decennial Lambeth Conference Tuesday evening, Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Roman Catholic Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, warned that "when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer's." Cardinal Dias also reminded Anglicans of the exclusivity of the Christian faith, saying that relativism "is contrary to the permanent tenets of the Gospel."

Cardinal Dias was invited to speak at Lambeth as part of the conference's focus on evangelism and ecumenical dialogue. His appearance follows the 2007 agreement of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission that the two churches share a common mission. Cardinal Dias called for "a unity which binds [the churches] together in the apostolic faith."

In addition to his warning about "spiritual Alzheimer's," the Cardinal said that "when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson's."

Cardinal Dias began his remarks with an overview of the Scriptural mandate to preach the Gospel, which is "as true today as it was two thousand years ago, even if some scholars have naively declared God to be dead, forgetting that they are dealing with a God who found His way out of the grave; and notwithstanding the opinions of some theologians who blush at proclaiming the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the universality of His salvation, mindless of his stern warning that, if anyone denies Him here before men, He will deny him before His Father in heaven (Mt 10:33)."

At this line, a minority of the congregation in the blue Big Top tent applauded.

Cardinal Dias reminded Anglicans that evangelization must take place in the midst of an ongoing "spiritual combat." "If this context is ignored in favour of a myopic world-vision," he said, "Christ's salvation will be conveniently dismissed as irrelevant."

"The world today needs Christian apologists, not apologisers," the Cardinal said, using the examples of John Henry Cardinal Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and C.S. Lewis. Apologists should live in the world, but they should not be of the world. "Any Christian is free to share his neighbour's table," he said, quoting from the second century Letter to Diognetus, "but never his marriage bed."

While Cardinal Dias did not refer specifically to the Anglican Communion's divisions over homosexuality, he did decry the "culture of death" exemplified by abortion, divorce, and "materialism and moral aberrations (which suffocate the joy of living and lead often to profound psychic depression)."

The full text of Cardinal Dias's remarks is available here:

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