The Vatican has approved the designation of the Cathedral of Saint Paul (located in Saint Paul, Minnesota -- and yes, the official name of the City spells out "Saint") as a national shrine: It will be the first national shrine to St. Paul in the country. The designation seems, to my wishful-thinking mind, to be most apt. For years, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis has enjoyed warm ecumenical relationships with Protestants (relations that seemed to have cooled from lack of attention under the current archbishop) -- especially the Lutherans. It seems more than appropriate to have a shrine to the mutually respected St. Paul set by Roman Catholics smack in the heart of Lutheran-land, with our almost hawkish (I want to say "marianist-like") devotion to the missionary-teacher-preacher (or at least to its interpretation of the guy).
The Cathedral is an impressive building and the history of its placement and construction is fascinating. For example, it sits high on a hill overlooking the City of Saint Paul (and naturally a rather ritzy neighborhood grew up around it); it sits higher than the nearby (and also beautiful) State Capitol building and boasts a dome larger than the Capitol's. Dating to 1917, I think, the Cathedral is on the National Register. It is also a popular place for concerts.
Apparently, the point of a shrine is to provide a destination for pilgrims on a journey with "a pious purpose." Perhaps such a purpose should be the reunification of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. In this Jubilee Year of Paul, I hope that this designation will encourage Lutherans (especially) and other separated brethren to make their pilgrimage to the shrine to pray for the fulfillment of Saint Paul's (the man's) urging that there is one Body of Christ and, if that body is fractured, sin is to blame and the members better attend to business, to listen to the Spirit's counsel for unity, and to get over their bitter differences f0r the sake of the Gospel.
Curiously or coincidentally (or perhaps so only in my mind), I have just returned from the annual conference of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology (which met just off the grounds of Catholic University in DC, home to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception), where we explored the continuing relevance and questions of Vatican II for the life of the churches and of the ecumenical movement. The keynote presenter, Dr. George Lindbeck (who may be the only living official observer of the entire Vatican II Council in the States), quoted from a colleague that "In a divided Church, the Eucharist tastes bitter." It's a phenomenally powerful statement of truth and mission.
Congratulations to the people of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis (it may be "of Saint Paul and Minneapolis"). As a Lutheran (which I think by definition makes me an evangelical catholic Christian), I now claim an interest in the Archbishop's home church, if not in yet in his cathedra.