Keeping up with Pope Benedict can be a difficult task, even for the strong; the pope does so much work in given week that most people would wilt. However, because he has such an excellent staff, much is possible. Key to understanding Benedict’s ecumenical work is his openess to collaborating with the Spirit and with others Chrisians for full visible communion desired by Christ and the Church, particularly since Vatican II. Additionally, his insistence on spiritual ecumenism is always noteworthy because without prayer none of ecumenical diagolue work makes a bit of sense. Plus, the pope raises the all-important matter of harvesting the fruit already done by the churches. So often we work hard on some document or event but fail to assess the fruit of the document or event to see what fruit there is and how it’s maturing. The lack of critical and honest engagement with the issues and the prudential enactment of the dialogue is fraustrating to lots of people. It is likely that many people have missed the news of of the Pope’s recent meeting with a delegation from the Evangelical Luthern Church in America (ELCA) on Wednesday, 10 February 2010, where he said (emphasis added):


“Since the beginning of my Pontificate, I have been encouraged that relations between Catholics and Lutherans have continued to grow, especially at the level of practical collaboration in the service of the Gospel. In his Encyclical Letter Ut Unuum Sint, my beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II described our relationship as “brotherhood rediscovered” (n. 41). I deeply hope that the continuing Lutheran-Catholic dialogue both in the United States of America and at the international level will help to build upon the agreements reached so far. An important remaining task will be to harvest the results of the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue that so promisingly started after the Second Vatican Council. To build on what has been achieved together since that time, a spiritual ecumenism should be grounded in ardent prayer and in conversion to Christ, the source of grace and truth. May the Lord help us to treasure what has been accomplished so far, to guard it with care, and to foster its development.


I conclude by renewing the wish expressed by my Predecessor, during whose Pontificate so much was accomplished on the road to full visible unity among Christians, when he said to a similar delegation from the Lutheran Church in America: “You are most welcome here. Let us rejoice that an encounter such as this can take place. Let us resolve to be open to the Lord so that he can use this meeting for his purposes, to bring about the unity that he desires. Thank you for the efforts you are making for full unity in faith and charity” (Address to the Bishops of the Lutheran Church in America, 26 September 1985; L’Osservatore Romano English Edition, 7 October 1985, p. 6).


Upon you and all those entrusted to your pastoral care, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.