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THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD Missionary code of conduct agreed

Tom Heneghan In Paris

THREE ORGANISATIONSrepresenting more than 90 per cent of the world’s Christians have agreed on a code of conduct for mis- sionary work intended to limit competition among themselves and ease tensions with other faiths that feel targeted by their evan- gelisation efforts. The Catholic Church, the World Council

of Churches (WCC) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) announced the pioneering pact in Geneva on 28 June after five years of discussions. The code is voluntary but signa- tories urged their member Churches to use it to prepare “their own guidelines for their wit- ness and mission among those of different religions”. Missionary work has created increasing tensions over the past half century as decoloni- sation boosted resentment of “imported” Western customs and globalisation brought growing contact among world religions. The growth of evangelical Protestantism in the United States in recent decades has also pro- duced new waves of missionaries eager to preach the Gospel in “unchurched” regions such as the Muslim world, or among Christians in areas such as traditionally Catholic Latin America. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said at the presentation of the code in Geneva

Scola to head Milan diocese

CARDINAL Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice since 2002, has been named Archbishop of Milan, Italy’s largest and most important diocese. The appointment was

predicted in The Tablet on 18 June, and the Vatican made the formal announcement on Tuesday. Cardinal Scola, 69, was ordained in 1970 for the ecclesial movement Comunione e Liberazione. A former rector of the Lateran University, his main task will be to counter social changes opposed by the Vatican that Milan’s new centre-left mayor, elected last month, is expected to promote.

28 | THE TABLET | 2 July 2011

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Photo: CNS

that Christians “must never forgo a sense of boldness in proclaiming the Gospel”. But he added: “A lack of prudence and

respect for others, leading to inappropriate means of proclamation of the Good News, unavoidably brings religious tensions, even violence and the loss of human life … The sit- uation is requiring Christian communities to consider, in a new way, how best to proclaim the Christian faith.” WEA Secretary General Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe said that “in some places, dynamic public witness to Jesus Christ has been accompanied by misunderstanding and tension”, adding that evangelicals everywhere should see how they can best apply the code. The guidelines, entitled “Christian Witness

in a Multi-Religious World”, said that while evangelisation was a religious right, Christians “are called to conduct themselves with integrity, charity, compassion and humility”. This meant they should “denounce and refrain from offering all forms of allurements,

including financial incentives and rewards, in their acts of service”. Christians who use “deception and coercive means” to win con- verts betrayed the Gospel, the guidelines said. The World Council of Churches, which represents most Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican Churches, has expressed concerns about tensions surrounding missionary work since the early 1950s. After the Second Vatican Council, it began discussions with the Catholic Church that agreed proselytism or “sheep- stealing” was “a corruption of witness” of the Christian faith. After the fall of Soviet Union in 1991, Orthodox Christian Churches re- emerging from decades of communist repression felt under siege by energetic evan- gelicals who treated countries such as Russia as missionary territory. “In these countries, the Gospel has already been preached for many centuries,” prelates from traditionally Orthodox countries protested at a 1992 Istanbul summit, denouncing this proselytism. New Christian missionaries in Muslim countries, many of which punish apostasy with jail or death, have upset the sensitive balance local Christians have found with the majority. Muslim groups have attacked churches in protest against evangelisation. Cardinal Tauran said Muslim scholars and

Orthodox leaders had been consulted during the process, but none were present at the Geneva news conference. (To read the code of conduct, visit

Eucharist ‘is an antidote to Western selfishness’

POPE BENEDICT XVI has reminded Catholics that the cel- ebration and adoration of the Eucharist is not a private devo- tion, but the necessary means for forming a community of service to others and ensuring that God is at the centre of human life, writes Robert Mickens. “In a culture becoming increas- ingly individualistic – such as that in which we are immersed in Western societies, and which is spreading throughout the entire world – the Eucharist constitutes a sort of ‘antidote’, which ... con- tinually generates in [believers] the logic of communion, service, sharing and, in essence, the logic of the Gospel,” the Pope said on Sunday, which was the Feast of

Corpus Christi in Rome and most of the world’s dioceses. “Without the Eucharist the

Church would not exist,” he told people gathered in St Peter’s Square for the midday Angelus. “Whoever recognises Jesus in the sacred host, recognises him in the brother or sister that suf- fers, is hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick or in prison,” the Pope said the previous Thursday, when the Vatican marked the feast. Celebrating the Corpus Christi Mass at Rome’s Cathedral Basilica of St John Lateran, he said the Eucharist obliged believers to build a just and fraternal society. “Especially in our day, when globalisation makes us more and more dependent on each other,

Christianity can and must see that this unity is not constructed with- out God, that is without true love, which would only give way to con- fusion, individualism and people trying to oppress each other,” the Pope said. After the Mass, Pope Benedict boarded a canopy-cov- ered flatbed truck and knelt before a monstrance as part of a traditional Eucharistic procession from the Lateran to the nearby Basilica of St Mary Major. “There is nothing magic in

Christianity,” he said before embarking on the three-quarters- of-a-mile journey. “There are no shortcuts, but everything must pass through the humble and patient logic of the grain of wheat that is broken to give life.”

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