Ökumenisches Tauwetter zwischen Zürich und Einsiedeln: Freundschaftliche Beziehungen zwischen Einsiedler Mönchen und Zürcher Theologen im ausgehenden 18. Jahrhundert
Keywords:Einsiedeln Abbey, Schwyz, Ecumenical Movement, Enlightenment, Reunion, Monastery, Johann Caspar Lavater, Johannes Schreiber, Marian Müller
In the second half of the 18th century, a close friendship developed between some Catholic Benedictine monks of Einsiedeln Abbey and Protestant Zurich theologians, which resulted in a fruitful exchange of their views on questions of faith. The Enlightenment’s emphasis on tolerance not only made them lay aside any denominational quarrels and prejudices but also made them wish to reunite the two churches as their ultimate goal. Other reasons for these contacts, reflected in a lively correspondence, were as follows: curiosity, an intellectual interest in the theological positions of the opposing views as well as a desire to use the opportunity to express their own convictions without any polemics. Likewise, they saw the need to counteract anti-revelation and anti-ecclesiastical movements generated by the tenets of the Enlightenment. They realized that as a united body they would be much more powerful, and this may have led both sides to this rapprochement. In all of this, however, the monks were firmly convinced that they were on the side of the truth. Therefore, they were careful not to deviate from the Roman path of salvation while building friendships with some Protestants. For the monks, a reunion of the churches was only conceivable if and when the Reformed theologians returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church under the primacy of the Pope. In the course of history, as from 1789, the monks cancelled their recently formed ties with the Protestants, mainly because of the monks’ rejection of the anti-ecclesiastical forces of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, which again was directed against everything non-Catholic. With the rise of Ultramontanism in the 19th century, they deliberately set out to forget these relationships. After a few decades, the remarkable ecumenical relaxation was replaced by cooler mutual relations.