Posted April 30, 2003
Washington Theological Consortium
EcuNotes #17 (March 2003)
MARY IN THE PLAN OF GOD AND IN THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS. By Alain Blancy and Maurice Jourjon and the Dombes Group. New York/Mah.wah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2002.
Le Groupe des Dombes is an ecumenical association that brings together twenty Roman Catholic and twenty Lutheran or Reformed theologians for an annual discussion of church-dividing topics. The first part of this book provides an historical overview of Marian theology and devotion; next is a survey of Scripture and Confessions of Faith that thematically portray Mary as creature, mother of Jesus Christ, and member of the Church. The second part of the book tackles disputed questions: Mary's "cooperation" in the work of salvation; her perpetual virginity in light of the scriptural "brothers and sisters of Jesus"; the Roman Catho.lic dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption; and Marian prayers and devotions. After examining many sources, the Groupe concluded that "theological and prac.tical divergences" about Mary are not "irreducible incompatibilities." Although not everyone will agree with the group's conclusion that full communion is possible without the acceptance of the Marian dogmas, nonetheless this book succeeds in correct.ing many mutual misunderstandings and in promoting ecumenical understanding about the role of "Mary in the Plan of God."
BLESSED ONE: PROTESTANT PERSPECTIVES ON MARY. Edited by Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Cynthia L. Rigby. Louisville.London: West.minster John Knox Press, 2002.
The eleven essays in this collection provide three perspectives about Mary: (1) four essays provide insightful vignettes about Mary in each of the Gospels; (2) two essays about the role of Mary look at her Motherhood and Chris.tian vocation, while two others consider Mary from African American and Mexican American per.spectives; (3) two essays then consider Mary as a woman of faith and an exemplar of divine goodness, while the final essay creatively considers Mary in terms of the "Artistry of God." Although further discussion seems desirable about some opinions expressed in this collection, on the whole, it is a welcome addition to ecumenical-theological dialogue.
WAY OF THE CROSS: THE PASSION OF CHRIST IN THE AMERICAS. Edited by Virgil Elizondo. Lanham.Boulder.New York.Ox.ford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
On Good Friday in Jerusalem, thousands of pilgrims process along the Via Dolorosa the route that Jesus presumably followed to Calvary; the "Way of the Cross" is marked by fourteen traditional "stations" or places where pilgrims stop for prayer. The present book, originally pub.lished on the quincentennial of Columbus' "dis.covery" of the Americas, provides a doubly innovative adaptation of the customary Way of the Cross: first, the stations are chosen from New Testament accounts of the final hours of Jesus' life and so are sometimes different from the traditional stations; second, the fourteen meditations and prayers .. written by leading theologians like Leonardo Boff, Enrique Dus.sel, Jon Sobrino, Elsa Tamez .. reflect on the sufferings of the peoples of the "New World" in parallel to the sufferings of Jesus. Prefaced by the editor's reflections plus an "opening mediation" by Gustavo Gutiérrez and concluding with a short meditation by Dom Helder Camara, these meditations, illus.trated with evocative wood.cuts, vividly re.enact the Way of the Cross as experienced by the poor and op.pressed in today's world.
The recent issue [110: 2002/III] of the INFORMATION SERVICE of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity includes:  texts related to the "Day of Prayer for Peace in the World" at Assisi on 24 January 2002;  the "Common Declaration on Environmental Ethics" issued by Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on 10 June 2002;  Cardinal Kasper's reflections on the 75th anniversary of the First World Conference on Faith and Order;  a set of brief status-reports on ecumenical conversations between the Roman Catholic Church and Adventists, Anglicans, Disciples of Christ, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Reformed, World Council of Churches.
Rabbi David Dalin's lecture on "John Paul II and the Jews" at Catholic University on Thursday, March 27, characterized John Paul II as the pope who has done the most to improve Jewish-Catholic relations. Dalin traced the pope's favorable attitude back to his boyhood in Wadowice (Poland) where Jerzy Kluger, a Jewish school-mate, was one of his best friends and later his guest at the Vatican. Among the actions symbolizing the pope's favorable attitude towards the Jewish community have been his visit to the Jewish synagogue in Rome, his prayers at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the Vatican's diplomatic recognition of the state of Israel.