Preparations for Una Sancta

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Enforced political restraint induced Metzger to return to ecumenical work. He launched the series of books “Scriptural School of Life” to support Bible study in 1935and hosted international Congresses of Christ the King in St. Gallen, Posen and Ljubljana between 1935 and 1939.

Metzger grew aware that war was imminent in Europe following the occupation of Czechoslovakia. He returned to Germany nonetheless. On a trip to South America in the summer of 1938, he managed to establish an outpost with local clergy in Chile.

Metzger had contact with ecumenically minded theologians since Lausanne in 1927. His idea of a “united brotherhood” of the externally divided disciples of Christ matured at the end of 1938. They would become more aware of the unity of all of them in Christ, already provided by one baptism. (M. Möhring, Täter, 111).

During several weeks of imprisonment in December of 1939, Metzger –implicated in Georg Elser’s (1903–1945) attempt to assassinate Hitler – described his sorrow over Europe’s Christian nations’ war against one another in a letter to Pius XII. He appealed to the pope: The misery of the age – through which God speaks to us – makes it absolutely imperative to overcome the Christian Church’s inner strife to allow Christ’s reign of peace to take effect. Metzger’s vision entailed turning away from the paths of self-righteousness, blindness and pride to Christ, the Prince of Peace, the King of Love. The self-righteous Catholic Church fixated on offices would have to would have to display a far greater measure of humility and love than in the past (Für Frieden, 47). As a preliminary stage to a general council, a united council of twelve Catholic and non-Catholic clergy apiece was intended to smooth the way to Una Sancta.

Since Metzger’s missive of May of 1939 to Protestant pastors about Una Sancta had met with approval, he published an appeal for prayer to unify Christians together with Joachim Ungnad (1873–1942), the retired Superintendent of Strausberg, at New Year’s of 1940. Metzger promoted his idea with a multitude of lectures nationwide. He ran into difficulties in the Dioceses of Berlin, Freiburg and Breslau wand was even banned from lecturing in Breslau where Archbishop Gröber declared that Metzger had a penchant for things extreme and things odd (H. Möhring, Täter, 121).

Metzger had success with two conferences in Meitingen over several days in 1939 and in July of 1940 at which the topic of “Church” was discussed beyond denominational boundaries. The second meeting was repeated in Berlin in November of 1940. The Gestapo kept a suspicious eye on these conferences as well as on the meetings of the Una Sancta groups.

Source / title

  • Max Josef Metzger: Um die Einheit der Kirche (Missionsbrief 20). Meitingen 1939, p. 2f.

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