Joyce Donahue Catechetical Associate Diocese of JolietReligious Education Office
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism We began as one Church of the Apostles “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.” (Decree on Ecumenism 1) Any person baptized in the name of the Trinity is our fellow Christian
Scripture It is Jesus’s desire that we be ONE. At the Last Supper, he said: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)
First Division East-West Schism – culture clash, disagreement over Crusades and doctrine, especially the wording of the Creed (“filioque”) – 1054 AD
Second Division Protestant Reformation in West further split the Roman Church – started as disagreement about doctrine and perceived “abuses” in the Church
Ecumenism Not the same as Inter-Faith From the Greek word oikoumene) meaning the whole inhabited earth. It is used by Christians to designate universal, or the whole Christian community worldwide, thus ecumenical councils.
Visible, but imperfect unity All Christians are still one worldwide “family” – unified by baptism and belief in Christ We just don’t all come to the same table – it’s a bit like a family feud, but we are still family
What is our goal? Long-term goal is full, visible unity and communion Short-term goal is acceptance, understanding, a dialogue of love and truth We do not need to compromise on our differences, but to understand them We do not need to make everyone Roman Catholic (Non-Catholic Christians don’t need to “convert” – they are already Christians)
Why is unity important? Christians need to speak with one voice to the culture. Our evangelization would be more effective. “The more we keep apart from each other as Christians of different confessions, the ‘less convincing’ will the face of a renewed humanity seem to our contemporaries.“ (Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Oct. 2012 Intervention at the Synod of Bishops, Rome)
Responsibility of all "The concern for restoring unity involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone, according to the talent of each...” (Decree on Ecumenism)
AttitudesWhat do we call “them”? NOT “separated brethren” NOT even “non-Catholics”BUT “Fellow Christians” (John Paul II) “Christians of other Churches”
Pope John Paul II & Archbishop ofCanterbury sign Joint Declaration
Pope Benedict XVI with PatriarchBartholomew of Constantinople
Pope Francis & PatriarchBartholomew of Constantinople
Dialogues – how unity is fostered Respectful listening Exploration of points of agreement Seeking to understand areas of disagreement but not avoiding them
Joint Agreement on the Doctrine ofJustification (1999) All believers are justified (freed from sin and death) by faith alone Good works are our necessary response to salvation (we do not do good works to “earn” our salvation – that is Pelagianism – a heresy that says humans save themselves by their own efforts)Significance: misunderstanding of this – on both sides – was one of the key causes of the Lutheran Reformation
Documents to Know About Decree on Ecumenism – Unitatis Redintegratio (1964) Directory on Ecumenism (1967, 1970) Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (1993), Ut Unum Sint (1995) John Paul II The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of Pastoral Workers (1998).
Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC 811-822 “The Church is One”
Prayer, worship & hospitality It is always appropriate to pray and to share Christian service or advocacy for justice with fellow Christians It is appropriate to make them feel welcome at weddings, funerals and other Catholic events We should be sensitive about helping them understand that we cannot offer them reception of the Eucharist, but that we hope to be able to do that someday.
Eucharist Catholics should generally not receive communion at a non-Catholic Church Protestant Christians, in exceptional circumstances, may receive if they ask and it is discerned there is an appropriate sense of need. Eastern Catholics (but not Orthodox) may receive at Roman churches Orthodox may receive in cases of need, but most of their churches do not permit them to participate in a Catholic Eucharist. Pastoral decisions for particular occasions may trump all the rules.
Scripture Study Joint scripture study with mainline Protestant Churches is fine, as long as Catholic participants understand that Catholic interpretation includes Church teaching and how a scripture passage is used in the Church as part of the meaning. Joint scripture study with Evangelical fundamentalist Christians is not a good idea – because Catholic interpretation is much different.
Inter-church marriages We need better pastoral care and understanding when dealing with couples in inter-church marriages – from marriage preparation through the life of the marriage When such a couple brings a child for Catholic sacraments, pastoral listening, respect and welcome are appropriate
RCIA –Candidates for Full Communion They are already Christians – National Statutes for RCIA specify they are NOT to be treated like the unbaptized. Formation for Christians active in other Churches may not need to take a full year – should be customized to the individual’s prior experience. They should never be included in rituals meant for the unbaptized, but should stand with the initiated Catholics . The key concept is RESPECT for their baptism.
RCIA – Ecumenical FormationFormation should also include ecumenical preparation For catecumens, this means initiating them into Catholic ecumenical commitments. For candidates for full communion this means understanding our Catholic relationship with their church of origin.
Forming the parish for ecumenicalsensitivity Youth should be taken to visit other Christian churches, share service projects with them, pray with them – followed by discussion. Catechists and catechetical leaders should be formed for ecumenism – to find ways to include mention of other Christians when appropriate, and to deal sensitively with non-Catholic parents of their students. Parishes should find opportunities to regularly interact with, pray with and serve with other Christian church neighbors.