Workshop on ‘Ecumenical Dialogue: a call for a prophetic commitment’ (Part 2)

This is the continuation of the report – as well as the texts of the conferences, often in their original language – of the workshop held at the end of March at the Generalate on “Ecumenical Dialogue, a call for prophetic commitment”. The first part of the report was published on April 14. Enjoy your reading.

Ecumenism in the world

Frans Bouwen provided the workshop participants with a brief reminder of the official documents of the Catholic Church regarding ecumenism. These are: Unitatis Redintegratio (1964) [Decree on Ecumenism from Vatican II]; Ut Unum Sint (1995) [John Paul II]; and the Directory for the application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (1993). In fact, there is no such thing as ‘Catholic Ecumenism’, but rather ecumenism tout court. The Church already now experiences a ‘real although imperfect communion’. How can we help it grow towards its fullness?

What is the ecumenical commitment of Pope Francis? This topic was covered by Andreas Göpfert and highlighted the five dimensions of ecumenism: 1) ecumenism of encounter; 2) practical ecumenism (ecumenical dialogue in action / ecumenical diakonia); 3) theological ecumenical dialogue; 4) prayer for Christian unity; 5) ecumenism of blood (of martyrdom). Pope Francis says that we are all called to be ecumenical Christians. We are pilgrims ‘en marche’ towards the promised land which is visible unity. Are we M.Afr. committed to walking along this route of ecumenism ‘en marche’?

Prof. Gioacchino Campese, CS gave a talk entitled ‘Together Towards Life: Reflections on the Ecumenical Mission’. He presented the document ‘Together towards life. Mission and evangelism in changing landscapes’ (TTL) which was drafted by the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME of the WCC), approved by the WCC Central Committee in 2012 and presented officially in 2013 during the Busan (Korea) WCC assembly. This document reminds us that mission is a vocation from God’s spirit who works for a world where the fullness of life is available to all and that ‘catholicity’ is a quality that describes true ecumenism and not just a term which defines a particular Christian denomination.

Leo Laurence focused on the Common Commemoration of the Reformation (2017) between Catholics and Lutherans as a point of no return towards Christian unity. Being a Christian today means being ecumenical and celebrating unity in diversity. Are we prepared to question our own prejudices?

Frans Bouwen offered the participants a ‘Panorama of the Eastern and Oriental Churches’ which highlighted the important distinction between ‘diversity’, which allows for a deeper understanding and a fuller expression and celebration of the faith in Christ, and ‘division’, which contradicts the essence and mission of the Church. Both played an important role in the origin and history of the Eastern and Oriental Churches. The differences are not only liturgical, but also in the way they received and lived out the Gospel in their particular contexts. For those who would like to work for inculturation, it is good to know their history.

There are different ways of presenting the ecumenical movement. Should it be represented by the “delta” rather than by the “river”? In his presentation, Andreas Göpfert took up some thoughts of Pastor Jane Stranz.

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