NEW YORK (ABP) — The National Council of Churches welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that Christian unity will be his central goal and urged the new pope to follow the ecumenical legacies of both John Paul II and the last Pope Benedict.
“We pray that in the years of Benedict's papacy, we in the United States will find deeper and richer ways to live out our common commitment to Christ's own prayer that we 'may all be one,'” said Thomas Hoyt, president of the NCC, which is composed of 36 Anglican, Orthodox, Protestant and historic African-American communions in the U.S.
Hoyt praised Benedict as a scholarly theologian whose close relationship with the late Pope John Paul II suggests “he will follow in the broad lines of the most recent pontificate, taking vigorous leadership in applying the teachings of the Second Vatican Council,” the 1960s conclave that sparked Catholic ecumenism.
The new pope's decision to take the name Benedict suggests an affinity with the last pope of that name, Benedict XV, Hoyt said. Benedict XV opposed war and fostered positive relations with the Eastern Orthodox churches and Muslim-majority countries of the eastern Mediterranean.