Internationale Kirchliche Zeitschrift



Conclusion of the dialogue between the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Ecumenical collaboration brings churches closer together. This also applies to the relationship between the Old Catholic Churches and the Mar Thoma Church. High-ranking representatives of both churches met within the framework of the World Council of Churches and prompted their churches to seek theological discussions with each other in the early 2010s. After several meetings and interim reports, the results were summarized by the Commission for the Dialogue in the "Common Joint Statement". They were received by the relevant bodies in both churches: by the synods of each Old Catholic church and the International Bishops' Conference on the one hand and by the Sabha Prathinidhi Mandalam of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church on September 1, 2023 in Thiruvalla (Kerala) on the other. An overview of the developments is given in this issue of the IKZ by Adrian Suter, followed by the text of the "Common Joint Statement". The official signing of an agreement will take place on February 10, 2024.

In a miscellaneous, Mattijs Ploeger reflects on the importance of the two theologians Josef Ratzinger and Ioannis Zizioulas, who died shortly after each other in 2022/23; He also describes their significance for Old Catholic theology.

From the Editorial Board of the IKZ, there are the following changes: Professor Frederic Vobbe (Heidelberg) left the Editiorial Board at the beginning of 2023. We would like to thank him for his contribution and commitment during the past years! Bishop Professor Dr theol. habil. Dr h. c. Wiktor Wysoczański, long-standing member of the editorial committee and honorary doctor of the Faculty of Old Catholic Theology at the University of Bern, passed away on April 27, 2023. An obituary can be found in this issue of the IKZ in the Church Chronicle (p. on p. 116-7). R. I. P.!

Angela Berlis, editor-in-chief



In this volume we are introducing a few innovations. "Miszellen" (“miscellaneous) are short contributions on research finds or comments on current issues. In this issue you will find a contribution on a mourning card that Erika Moser found while working on her doctoral dissertation on necrographs in Swiss Old Catholicism. The Dutch “bidprentje” did not fit in there. Therefore, the story it tells, is published here as a miscellaneous.

In the "Bibliography" section you will find a contribution by Genji Yasuhira, visiting researcher from Japan at the University of Utrecht, on recently published literature on the prehistory of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands. The author gives an overview of recent research on the schism between Rome and Utrecht. In 2023, the circumstances that led to the conflict between Dutch Catholics and Rome will be reflected upon in the Netherlands.

The other contributions in this issue provide insight into ongoing research in ecumenical theology and in Swiss church history. Georgiana Huian looks at the phenomenon of human vulnerability by reading "Christian Perspectives on Theological Anthropology", a publication by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (2005). Michael Bangert examines the reception of the work and person of the Swiss hermit, ascetic and mystic Niklaus von Flüe (1417-1487) by the Swiss Old Catholic bishop Eduard Herzog (1841-1924).

As a new member of the editorial board of our journal we welcome Dr Andrzej Gontarek, lecturer in Practical theology and Dogmatics at the Old Catholic Section of the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw (Poland).

Angela Berlis

Editorial: Current issues of politics of religion and society

For the first time in the history of the Union of Utrecht, an international forum has approached the issue of abuse, which has been more and more present in the media in recent years. In August 2019, the 46th International Conference of Old Catholic Theologians addressed "Proximity, Distance and Power. Church and Pastoral Care in the #MeToo Age" in Wislikofen (Switzerland). For in recent years it has become apparent that the abuse of power, transgressions of boundaries and sexualised violence do not stop at the doors of Old Catholic churches and parsonages. With its diverse reflections on power, violence and (pastoral and sexual) abuse, the conference saw itself as a landmark on a longer path, which the Old Catholic Churches also have to face: exposing and abolishing mental and structural forms of exercising power in church contexts, which violate people's dignity and assault their integrity.

In late autumn 2018, the 5th conference on "Interreligious Relations and Ecumenical Issues" (IREI) in Bern dealt with current challenges in the field of religious policy, focusing on the relationship between state and religion. Under the title "Secular Society and Religious Presence: Religion-State Relations in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives", international and cantonal experts discussed with each other. They explored both the possibilities of religious plurality (for example, through an appropriately designed multi-religious military chaplaincy in Switzerland) and its threats and limitations, which have been perceptible for some years, for example, in new forms of anti-Semitism in Europe. Some of the conference papers have already been published in Studies in Interreligious Dialogue 30 (2020) issue 2..

Angela Berlis

Apostolic succession as ecumenical inspiration

Some have it; others do not have it and perhaps do not want it. Apostolic succession – understood as the transmission of ministry through the laying on of hands and prayer – often appears in ecumenical dialogues as an obstacle to the coming together of churches. Old Catholic theology has always attached importance to understanding apostolic succession not as a “golden channel” of the laying on of hands but, rather, by foregrounding the apostolic tradition of the whole Church, within which apostolic succession has a more-than-symbolic significance. The just-published issue of the IKZ contains contributions by theologians who reflect on the significance of apostolic succession for their own ecclesial tradition and the interweaving of this question with broader theological issues: Henk Bakker (Baptist), Heide Zitting (Evangelical Lutheran), Katerina Pekridou (Orthodox) and Mattijs Ploeger (Old Catholic). The issue was produced under the leadership of Prof. Peter-Ben Smit, member of the IKZ editorial board.

Angela Berlis

Table of content IKZ 111 (2021) issue 1-2: Ecumenical Contributions on apostolic succession