For centuries the ancient Church was as successful in Africa and Asia as in Europe.… Why then has not Christianity become the religion of the East?

One of the deepest experiences of modern Christendom is the awareness of a common destiny of the Christian churches. They all are confronted today with the same theological questions (the Church and its unity, Church and ministry, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the inspiration and authority of Holy Scripture, Word and sacrament) and with the same practical problems (how to preach the Gospel to modern man, the structures of the Church, ministry and laity, liturgy, the relationship among the Christian denominations). Almost all themes of the Second Vatican Council are on the agendas of our synods. This solidarity was experienced in the most convincing way when Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic priests, Lutheran and Baptist pastors met in the prisons and concentration camps of this enlightened age of ours and faced the same execution squads.

The time has definitely gone when a church could believe that the fall and defeat of another church would present her with a great opportunity for conquest and victory. The decay of the national churches in Europe will not mean that now Rome or Protestant free churches take over there, nor will the decay of Roman Catholicism in Latin America lead the people into the Protestant folds. Certainly, individual conversions to another church will always take place. But the indifferent masses will find other alternatives. This is what Rome has learned during the past thirty years and what has created Roman ecumenism, as one of the deepest roots of the ecumenical movement of this century is the growing awareness of a common destiny of all Christendom. ...

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