Ten years ago it might have seemed odd to place side by side two men like Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), the former considered a ‘modern church father’ of the Reformation and the latter an implacable foe of that tradition in its fledgling state. What is significant however is that their essential spiritual thrust took such similar directions. It is the similarity in essentials that first drew this writer to begin comparing the thought of the two men, but more than a similarity is involved here. An examination of the attitudes of the two towards Christian proclamation and communication provides striking ecumenical possibilities, and allows Roman Catholics and Protestants to see how close their traditions are in so many cases, if only a careful effort is made to understand the other's language. Loyola himself, at the outset of his spiritual manual, offers us a pattern for sensitivity in theological discussion:
To assure better cooperation between the one who is giving the Exercises and the exercitant, and more beneficial results for both, it is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another's statement than to condemn it as false. If an orthodox construction cannot be put on a proposition, the one who made it should be asked how he understands it. If he is in error, he should be corrected with all kindness. If this does not suffice, all appropriate means should be used to bring him to a correct interpretation, and so defend the proposition from error.