World News and Trends: Ecumenism bridges a major gap: The Virgin Mary

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Ecumenism bridges a major gap: The Virgin Mary

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Some Anglicans are now beginning to accept the Roman Catholic devotion to the Virgin Mary. Wrote Stephen Bates, the religious affairs correspondent of The Times: "After nearly 500 years of intense division, Anglicans and Roman Catholic theologians yesterday decided that one of the two faiths' most fundamental differences—the position of Mary, the mother of Christ—should no longer divide them."

A new document titled "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ" was recently published in Seattle. It says: "We don't consider the practice of asking Mary and the saints to pray for us as communion dividing . . . We believe that there is no continuing theological reason for ecclesiastical division on these matters." The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission produced this document.

Historically, Protestants have normally had difficulty with the Catholic belief embodied in the idea of an Immaculate Conception, in essence meaning Mary was free from the stain of what theologians call original sin. Another stumbling block has been the Roman Catholic belief of her assumption into heaven, body and soul. Most Protestants have generally contended that there is no biblical basis for this religious belief.

Now at least one or two branches of Protestanism appear to be putting the goal of ecumenism before these and other differences—and perhaps gradually coming around to the Catholic way of thinking. To understand whether or not Mary is really in heaven, please request our free booklet Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? (Source: The Guardian [London].)