Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of Pastoral Workers

by Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity


Study document addressed to the entire Church but principally to those with responsibility for formation for pastoral ministry. It was issued on March 9, 1998.

Larger Work




Publisher & Date

Catholic News Service, March 19, 1998


On Match 25, 1993, His Holiness Pope John Paul approved the revised "Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism," confirmed it by his authority and ordered that it be published.

One of the directory's main concerns is ecumenical formation in seminaries and theological faculties. So it was decided that the 1995 plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity should study and make mom explicit the principles and recommendations laid down in the directory. To prepare for the plenary's discussion, a consultation of specialists who teach various disciplines in seminaries and theological faculties led to the drafting of two documents: one concerned with providing an ecumenical dimension to the formation of those engaged in pastoral work the other outlining the contents of a specialized course in ecumenism.

The 1995 plenary meeting was largely devoted to discussion of these proposals and suggestions for their amendment. The bishops particularly recommended that a single text should be produced integrating the contents of the two draft texts. This reworking was carried out during the plenary meeting, and at its conclusion the substance of the present text was examined and approved. It was left to the Pontifical council staff to carry out the remaining work of making it ready for publication The congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and Catholic Education have been involved in the preparation of this document.

At the special audience which concluded the plenary meeting, the Holy Father underscored the significance of the work which led to this study text:

"You have specifically studied the problem of ecumenical formation in seminaries and theological faculties, which is me of the directory's main concerns. You have wished to do so in a modern, practical way based on the requirements of the educational sciences, which cannot be limited to a mere course of information on the ecumenical movement. I hope that the practical directives you have mentioned will allow the ecumenical dimension to become an integral part of teaching the different disciplines by using the interdisciplinary method and through interdenominational cooperation, provided for by the ecumenical directory."

The Holy Father added that such formation "is an essential challenge for the development of ecumenical research and for its promotion in formation institutes and pastoral life."

The following text is therefore a study document which gathers together what is in the ecumenical directory and makes it more explicit. It is addressed to all who have responsibility for theological and pastoral formation to help them ensure that those who in the future will be engaged in pastoral work and also those who will be theology professors receive adequate ecumenical formation. In this way they will better be able to respond to what is required by the life of the church in our day.

Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy President
Bishop Pierre Duprey Secretary


1. The "Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms, of Ecumenism" insists that ecumenical dimension is to be fully present in all the different settings and means through which formation takes place.1 The present document from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is addressed to each bishop, to the synods of Eastern Catholic churches and the episcopal conferences, and also to those with particular responsibility for formation for pastoral ministry. Its purpose is to assist them to carry out this responsibility at the local, national and regional levels2 in conformity with the general principles provided in the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio (1964), the directory (1993), and the encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint (1995). The guidelines it contains emphasize the necessity of ecumenical formation for all Christ's faithful. They especially concentrate on what is needed for the thorough ecumenical formation of those who are preparing to engage in pastoral work, whether as ordained ministers or not, and particularly on recommendations for ensuring that their theological studies have the ecumenical dimension required. This document intends to make more explicit what is requested in the directory; particularly in Chapter 3, and needs to be read together with the passages referred to by the footnotes.

2. "Concern for restoring unity pertains to the whole church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone according to the potential of each, whether it be exercised in daily living or in theological and historical studies."3 The Second Vatican Council teaches that the restoration of full visible communion among all Christians is the will of Christ and essential to the life of the Catholic Church. It is the task of all, of lay people as well as ordained: "All the faithful are called upon to make a personal commitment toward promoting increasing communion with other Christians."4

"The commitment to ecumenism [is] a duty of the Christian conscience enlightened by faith and guided by love."5 This requires from everyone interior conversion and participation in renewal in the church. Consequently, formation in ecumenism is crucial in order to enable each person to be prepared to make his or her own contribution to the work of unity. The "objective of ecumenical, formation is that all Christians be animated by the ecumenical spirit, whatever their particular mission and task in the world and society."6 So there has necessarily to be a renewal of attitudes and flexibility of method which will help form this ecumenical spirit.

A. Formation Necessary for All

3. Since Christian formation is necessary at every level and stage of the Christian life, reflection is needed on how to ensure the ecumenical dimension is present in these different kinds of formation Consequently it is vital that those with a central role in animating such formation—notably the clergy, members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, catechists and others formally involved in religious education, as well as leaders in new movements and ecclesial communities—should have had a thorough ecumenical formation themselves.

4. The directory includes among the principal means of formation: hearing and studying the word of God, preaching, catechesis, liturgy and the spiritual life. Each of these will be incomplete unless it also contributes to forming an ecumenical spirit. Indications are given of what this might involve.7

5. Similarly, consideration has to be given to what will be required in the different settings mentioned by the directory in which formation actually takes place, notably the family, the parish, the school and various movements, associations and groups.8 For example, it recommends that religious education in schools of every kind and grade should have an ecumenical dimension and aim to educate the hearts and minds of young people in the necessary human and religious dispositions that will favor the search for Christian unity.9

B. Formation of Theological Students, Seminarians and Future Pastoral Workers

6. The following suggestions are, primarily intended to encourage more thorough ecumenical formation during the seminary or theological education of candidates for ordained ministry and theological students. However, the directory makes clear that these principles should be appropriately adapted for the formation of others engaged in pastoral work.10

7. "Ecumenical relations are a complex and delicate reality which require study and theological dialogue, fraternal relations and contact, prayer and practical cooperation. We are called to work in all fields. Being limited to one or another of them while neglecting the others can never produce results. This global view of ecumenical activity most always be kept in mind when we present or explain our involvement."11 It is useful, therefore, to point out some important general considerations concerning the formation required for such a task:

a) Since ecumenical formation is multileveled, preparing for work in the fields just mentioned, it should aim not only to impart cognitive information but also to motivate and enliven the ecumenical conversion and commitment of the participants. It should strengthen a spirit of faith which recognizes that ecumenism "transcends human powers and gift."12

b) The directory speaks of the need for a pedagogy adapted to "the concrete situation of the life of persons and groups."13 Consequently, all appropriate inductive and deductive methods should be employed.

c) Doctrinal formation holds an essential place in ecumenical formation, but spiritual, pastoral and ethical questions should also be treated.

d) Doctrinal formation about ecumenism ought to take into account the context in which it is given. Special attention should therefore be given to the particular ecumenical conditions and pastoral concerns of the country or region concerned.14

8. Patterns, structures and indeed length of theological programs for students vary significally from one country to another. Also faculties of theology, seminaries, study centers for initial formation in religious orders and other pastoral, theological or catechetical institutes will in their own ways each find different possibilities and encounter different constraints. It is not, therefore, feasible or desirable to attempt a blueprint which world be applicable in every formation program. However, the following two chapters do give important guidelines for introducing the directory's requirements of an ecumenical dimension in the teaching of each theological discipline and of specific teaching on ecumenism.


9. Ecumenism should be fully integrated into the theological formation of those who are to engage in pastoral work so as to help them acquire "an authentically ecumenical disposition."15 The directory calls for an introductory course specifically in ecumenism.16 In addition and even more important, it introduces a new requirement: that reflection and planning should be undertaken in each discipline to ensure that an ecumenical dimension permeates every subject taught.17 It mentions some key elements which can provide this and gives indications for a fundamental ecumenical methodology. This chapter is concerned with this requirement.

A. Key Elements

10. The directory asks the synods of the Oriental Catholic churches and the episcopal conferences to ensure that plans of study give an ecumenical dimension to each subject area.18 The life of faith and prayer of faith, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, indicate the attitude from which every subject should be approached: with love for truth, accompanied by a spirit of charity and humility.19 Such an attitude, which underlies the method of true dialogue, is the context in which the key elements suggested by the directory should be reflected on and integrated with each subject in order to provide the necessary ecumenical dimension. These elements are:20

1. Hermeneutics.
2. The "hierarchy of truths."
3. The fruits of ecumenical dialogues.

11. (1) Hermeneutics is a necessary tool of ecumenical reflection if students are to learn how to distinguish between the "deposit of faith" and the ways these truths are formulated.21 Hermeneutics is understood here as the art of correct interpretation and correct communication of the truths which are found in Holy Scripture and in the documents of the church: liturgical texts, conciliar decisions, the writings of fathers and doctors of the church, and other documents of the church's teaching authority as well as in ecumenical texts. Furthermore, ecumenical dialogue, which prompts the parties involved to question each other, to understand each other and to explain their positions to each other, can help to determine whether different theological formulations are complementary rather than contradictory and so develop mutually acceptable and transparent expressions of faith.22 In this way a common ecumenical language is emerging.

12. (2) The hierarchy of truths is indicated in the decree Unitatis Redintegratio as a criterion to be followed when Catholics are presenting or comparing doctrines.23 The Catholic understanding of hierarchy of truths has been developed in some postconciliar documents.24 It has also been the subject of ecumenical dialogue.25 It may also serve as, a criterion for doctrinal formation in the church and be applied in such areas as the spiritual life and popular devotions.

13. (3) The fruits of the dialogues26 should be presented in a general way, and those responsible for teaching a given subject should carefully evaluate any results which touch on the material they teach. Careful note should be taken of distinctions used in agreed statements such as divergence and convergence, partial agreement, consensus and full agreement. Such an evaluation, by fostering new insights, can aid the process of reception, which is guided by the official teaching authority of the church, which has the responsibility of making the final judgment about ecumenical statements. New insights that are accepted "enter into the life of the church, renewing in a certain way that which fosters reconciliation with other churches and ecclesial communities."27 It will assist the "serious examination" involving the whole people of God called for by the encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint, by which the results and statements of the various dialogues are not to remain "statements of bilateral commissions but must become a common heritage."28

14. In the teaching of each discipline, attention should also be given to other factors which, though not theological in the strict sense, have important ecumenical consequences, for example those arising from culture, and history.

15. The directory offers some pointers to how this ecumenical dimension might be drawn out in various cases.29 More detailed examples are left to the reflection, of those directly involved in teaching each discipline, who will be able to relate what is required in their area of study to the needs of their respective country or region and its Christian communities. However, Paragraph 20 below contains important recommendations for encouraging the reflection needed for this.

B. Ecumenical Methodology in Each Discipline

16. In the directory important indications are given for a fundamental ecumenical method which should be applied in the teaching of each particular discipline.30 It comprises an analytical presentation of:

1. Those elements Christians hold in common.
2. Points of disagreement.
3. The results of the ecumenical dialogues.

17. (1) Elements Christians hold in common. Attention should be drawn to the real communion already existing among Christians, seen in their reverence for the living word of God and their common profession of faith in the triune God and in the redemptive action of Christ, the Son of God made man. It finds expression in the various creeds Christians share; it is embraced in the one sacrament of baptism which constitutes the fundamental bond between them; it directs them all to full visible unity and a common destiny in the one kingdom of God.31

Moreover, each communion teaches in its particular way "the riches of liturgy, spirituality and doctrine"32 which express this common faith.

All of this can be highlighted in a given field of teaching and will deepen appreciation of the mystery of the church, particularly that its unity "is realized in the midst of a rich diversity" and that legitimate diversity is a dimension of the catholicity of the church.33

18. (2) Points of disagreement. Against this background, it is possible to distinguish clearly where real rather than apparent points of disagreement still exist. These should be examined in the particular discipline being taught.34

19. (3) The results of the ecumenical dialogues. The above approach underlies the work of the various ecumenical dialogues in progress.35 The results emerging from them therefore need to be carefully explained and taken into account in the teaching of each particular subject matter. The indications provided in the encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint can assist this presentation.36

C. Practical Recommendations

20. To implement the proposals of Sections A and B above, the hierarchical authorities and leaders of academic institutions are recommended as a matter of urgency to encourage those who teach particular disciplines (perhaps using regular meetings of their professional associations, e.g., of biblical scholars, dogmatic theologians, moral theologians, liturgists, church historians, etc.) to:

a) Explore together the ingredients necessary for the effective ecumenical teaching of various academic courses and encourage the appropriate integration of the ecumenical dimension at every level of study.

b) Develop programs which will take into account the extent of previous formation of the students and whatever is required to make possible their fruitful participation in ecumenical study.

c) Encourage collaboration and coordination between professors of different disciplines and different institutions to ensure interdisciplinary ecumenical teaching, as, indicated in the directory.37

d) Promote cooperation, when appropriate, with professors from other churches and ecclesial communities, for example, by inviting them to present their ecclesia traditions of Christian faith and ways of living it out 38

e) Prepare for submission to church and academic authorities local directories or guidelines which would adapt the general principles and norms to particular situations.39

21. Moreover, those responsible for appointments to theological faculties and seminaries must ensure that teachers and research workers are ready to employ an integrated ecumenical method in their respective disciplines.


22. In addition to introducing the above-mentioned ecumenical dimension and ecumenical methodology into the teaching of particular academic subject areas, the directory requires a specific course of study in ecumenism:40

—It should be compulsory.41

—In accordance with academic statutes, there should be an examination or assessment of students' knowledge of the doctrinal content of this course.

—it should be accompanied by practical ecumenical experience.42

23. According to the directory, this course of study might be organized in two stages:

—Early on, students could be given a general introduction to the ecumenical dimension of their studies.

—Later, more specific teaching would provide a broad knowledge of ecumenism for synthesis with the rest of their theological formation.43

The directory gives pointers to the sort of content to be considered.44

24. The following sections provide suggestions about:

a) The content of the general introduction to ecumenism

b) Areas that later may require further specific treatment.

Their purpose is to help and encourage the reflection needed to put the required course of study in ecumenism in place and to decide on its structure. They will have to be adapted to particular circumstances and needs.

A. General Introduction to Ecumemism45

25. The purpose of this general introductory course is that students clearly understand that the aim of ecumenism is the restoration of full visible unity among all Christians.46 The following topics are the minimum required. Their content my be supplemented or expanded by referring to the specific areas outlined in Section B below.

a) The Catholic Church's commitment to ecumenism.

—Biblical foundations of ecumenism with reference to Lumen Gentium, 1-4; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2; Ut Unum Sint, 5-9.

—Catholic principles of ecumenism as presented in Lumen Gentium (particularly 8, 14-15); Unitatis Redintegratio, Ch. 1; directory, Ch. 1; Ut Unum Sint, Ch. 1.

—The meaning of communion (koinonia), the necessity of renewal and conversion, the place of doctrine, the primacy of prayer.

—Main factors contributing to separation, theological and nontheological (e.g. historical and cultural factors).

—Efforts in history to repair divisions.

b) The fundamental role of ecumenical dialogue—Ut Unum Sint.

—Formation for dialogue and for engagement in ecumenical relationships; the meaning and method of dialogue with reference to Ut Unum Sint, 28-39 and directory, 172-182.

—Doctrine, as well as history, culture, liturgical prayer and spirituality as areas for dialogue.

—Important terms and distinctions: oikoumene, common witness, hierarchy of truths, legitimate diversity, plurality and complementarity of expressions of faith, the distinction between ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.

—Aims, methods and results of selected dialogues.

—Principal questions for further dialogue, with reference to Ut Union Sint, 79.

c) Some current ecumenical issues:

—Spiritual ecumenism and the importance of ecumenical prayer.

—Catholic principles directing spiritual and sacramental sharing.

—The search for unity and the task of mission.

—Common witness.

—Ethical problems.

B. Areas for Further Specific Treatment

26. Some of the following topics may require more specialized study in the later stages of formation:47

a) Biblical foundations for ecumenism.48

God's plan for the unity of his people and the whole of humanity:

—The Trinitarian unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the unity in creation willed by God and damaged by sin, unity with God, with other human beings and with creation.

—The covenant election and the role of the people of God.

—The life, death and resurrection of Jesus in order to gather into one the scattered children of God.

—The prayer of Jesus that all might be one that the world may believe.

—The promised Spirit, who leads into all truth and equips with spiritual gifts and ministries to build up the body of Christ

—The mission of the apostles together with Peter in the service of unity.

—The unity of believers through baptism in the name of the Trinity and the idea of koinonia.

b) Catholicity in time and place.49

We confess in the Creed one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. In this ecelesiological context, the following subjects will be explored:

—Concept of oikoumene in the New Testament and the early church.

—Full, visible unity as goal of the ecumenical movement.50

—Communion between local and universal church: legitimate diversity as a dimension of catholicity51

—Episcopal collegiality and synodality.

—The unity of the church and the unity of humankind, and associated issues such as racism, inclusiveness of woman and the marginalized.

c) Doctrinal basis of ecumenism.52

Attention should be given to the theology of communion and the already existing bonds of communion, 53 in particular:

—Apostolic faith.

—Holy Scripture.



—Sacramental life.

—Liturgical hymns and prayers.

d) History of ecumenism.54

A presentation of the history of ecumenism has to take into account both achievements and failures. The following topics might be reflected on:

—Unity and diversity in the early church, for example: Acts 15 and Galatians 2 and the resolution of tensions between Peter and Paul; the writings of apostolic fathers such as Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch.

—Divisions which continue to have significance today: from the fifth century (Ephesus, Chalcedon); from the 11th century (separation, between Constantinople and Rome); from the 16th century (Reformation); from more recent developments (e.g. origin of Methodism, Old Catholics).

—Attempts to re-establish unity such as the Council of Florence (1439); the Augsburg Confession (1530); the Malines Conversations (1921-1926).

—The development of the contemporary ecumenical movement and the renewed search for Christian unity: the establishment of the World Council of Churches and preceding events; the Second Vatican Council (especially Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio and prior developments in Catholic ecumenism

—The bilateral and multilateral theological dialogues and their results.

—Christological agreements with the ancient churches of the East.

—Biographies of key figures in this history.

e) Purpose and method of ecumenism.55

The Catholic understanding of unity sees it as a gift by means of which God makes Christians sharers in his own examination. Its central constituents are:

—Unity of faith .

—Unity in the sacramental life.

—Unity in ministry.

Unitatis Redintegratio, Ch. 1, should be the starting point.56 Similar ideas are increasingly found in other ecumenical documents.57

Different models of unity discussed in the ecumenical movement could be presented and evaluated in the light of Catholic teaching, for example:


—Unity in action and witness.

—Reconciled diversity.

—Conciliar fellowship.

—Leuenberg Agreement.

—Model of Council of Florence.

—Organic unity.

—Eucharistic koinonia

Hope in the fulfillment of Christ's prayer for unity animates the Catholic Church's ecumenical commitment and engagement in dialogue, and finds expression in many official church documents, notably:

—The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992).

—"Directory for the Application, of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism" (1993).

—Tertio Millennia Adveniente (1994).

Ut Unum Sint (1995).

—Orientale Lumen (1995).

f) Spiritual ecumenism

Spiritual ecumenism should be regarded as "the soul of the whole ecumenical movement."58 It is therefore an essential ingredient in ecumenical formation. Themes to be explained include:

—The necessity of conversion and holiness of life.59

—The value and importance for ecumenism of prayer in common.60

—The Week of Prayer for Christian, Unity.

—The variety of spirituality, piety and forms of prayer in the different confessional traditions.

—The emergence of an ecumenical spirituality associated with, for example: common study of and reflection on the Bible, and common translations;61 common liturgical texts and hymn books;62 shared prayer events such as Women's World Day of Prayer and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; ecumenical cooperation in catechesis.63

—The idea of a common martyrology.64

Religious orders and congregations and societies of apostolic life can make an important ecumenical contribution by fostering awareness among all Christians of the call to conversion and holiness of life.65

g) other churches and ecclesial communities.66

General information should be provided about the major Christian communions, and attention given to those churches and ecclesial communities which have entered into dialogue with the Catholic Church or which are of special significance in a particular country or region. For example:

—Orthodox Church.

—The ancient churches of the East (Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian, Armenian) and the Assyrian Church of the East.

—Churches and ecclesial communities from the Reformation period (e.g. Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformed).

—Free churches (e.g. Methodists, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, classical Pentecostals).

There should be a presentation of particular symbols and confessional formulas such as:

—Thirty Nine Articles (Anglicara).

—Angsburg Confession (Lutheran).

—Heidelberg Catechism and Westminster Confession (Reformed).

Reference should also be made to respective theological trends and emphases, liturgical traditions, church order and discipline, authority structures and forms of ministry of churches both of the East and the West.

h) Principal areas for further dialogue.67

—The relationship between sacred Scripture, as the highest authority in matters of faith, and sacred tradition, as indispensable to the interpretation of the word of God.

—The eucharist, as the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and real presence of Christ and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

—Ordination, as a sacrament, to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate.

—The magisterium of the church, entrusted to the pope and the bishops in communion with him, understood as a responsibility and an authority exercised in the name of Christ for teaching and safeguarding the faith.

—The Virgin Mary, as mother of God and icon of the church, the spiritual mother who intercedes for Christ's disciples and for all humanity.

—The understanding of the church.

—The nature and exercise of the primary of the bishop of Rome.68

i) Specific ecumenical issues.69

The significance of these issues and therefore the treatment they require will differ from place to place. Attention should be given to the Catholic Church's principles and norms and how these may differ from those of other churches, concerning for example:

—Mutual recognition of baptism70

—Shared worship.71

—Sacramental sharing.72

—Mixed marriages.73

—Ministry and role of women in the church.74

—Role of the laity.75

j) Ecumenism and mission.76

The intimate relationship of ecumenism and the missionary work of the church should be explored:

—Christian unity and the missionary nature of the church: "May they be one.... that the world may believe."77

—Christian divisions as grave obstacle for the preaching of the Gospel.78

—Baptism and common faith as the foundation of ecumenical cooperation in mission.79

—Missionary activity is not directed at fellow Christians.80

k) Contemporary challenges for ecumenism.

—Ecumenical dimension of ethical questions and new scientific developments.81

—The inculturation of faith.


—Theological and pastoral challenge of sects, cults and new religious movements.83

—The linking of faith to politics through nationalism and chauvinism.

—Secularism within the churches.

C. Ecumenical Materials and Textbooks

27. The teaching of ecumenism should make use of the principal documents of Catholic ecumenism already referred to and also introduce books and texts from other churches which faithfully expound their teaching. This is "to permit honest and objective comparisons and to stimulate a further deepening of Catholic doctrine."84 The choice of works used will have to reflect the churches with which a particular course is most concerned. The following sources of material are basic:

—Ecumenical dictionaries, concordances and comparative thematic studies.

—Historic and contemporary confessional texts.

—Documents, reports and agreed statements produced by bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues.

—Histories of the ecumenical movement.

Some examples of these are indicated below.85

D. Further Recommendations

28. Genuine ecumenical formation must not remain solely academic; it should also include ecumenical experience.86 For example:

—Visits should be organized to the churches and worship of other Christian traditions.

—Meetings and exchanges can be arranged with those in other churches and ecclesial communities who are also studying and preparing for pastoral ministry.

—Occasions should be found for common prayer with other Christians especially but not only during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

—Joint study days and discussions will enable experience of the doctrine and life of other Christians.

—In certain circumstances, it may also be possible to invite lecturers and experts from other Christian traditions.87

29. There are important pastoral and practical matters which should not be omitted from ecumenical formation, especially that of seminarians. If it is not possible to include them adequately in the specific teaching on ecumenism, special provision should be made in the case of those who will be ordained, for example, in the period of preparation for diaconate. These issues include:

—Practical guidelines about mutual recognition of baptism, ecumenical worship, sacramental sharing, the preparation, celebration and pastoral care of mixed marriages, the conducting of funerals, problems arising with sects and new religious movements.

—Ensuring familiarity with ecumenical directives and guidelines: the relevant canons from the codes of canon law, directives from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, especially the 1993 "Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism," and from the episcopal conference or synod as well as the diocesan bishop.

—Information about the local, regional and national ecumenical organizations, e.g. diocesan ecumenical commissions, councils of churches and ecumenical dialogues on the regional or national level.

30. These guidelines have mainly been concerned with the ecumenical formation of those preparing for pastoral ministry. The directory also has important recommendations for the ongoing or permanent formation of ordained ministers and pastoral workers which is vital for continual evolution in the ecumenical movement.88


1 Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, "Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism," Vatican City: Vatican Press, 1993, Ch. 3.

2 Cf. Directory, 55 and 72.

3 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 5.

4 Directory, 55.

5 John Paul II, encyclical Ut Unum Sint, 8; cf, also 6-9 and 15-16.

6 Directory, 58.

7 Cf ibid., 59-64.

8 CC ibid., 65-69.

9 Cf ibid., 68.

10 Cf. ibid., 83.

11 John Paul II, Feb. 1, 1991, address to plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 2: Information Service, No. 78, 1991/III-IV, p. 140.

12 Unitatis Redintegratio, 24.

13 Directory, 56.

14 Cf. ibid., 82.

15 Ibid., 70.

16 CC ibid., 79-81; see below, Ch. 2 of this document.

17 Cf. ibid., 72-78, 83-84.

18 Cf. ibid., 72.

19 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 11, 24; Ut Unum Sint, 36 and Directory, 180.

20 Cf. Directory, 74, 75, 78, 181-182.

21 Cf. ibid., 181; see also 74, 76a and Ut Unum Sint, 38 and 81.

22 Ut Unum Sint, 38; Directory, 74; Unitatis Redintegratio, 17.

23 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 11.

24 Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, "Reflections and Suggestions Concerning Ecumenical Dialogue. A Working Instrument at the Disposal of Ecclesiastical Authorities for Concrete Application of the Decree on Ecumenism": Information Service, No. 12, 1970/IV, pp. 5-11; cf. also Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration in Defense of the Catholic Doctrine on the Church Mysterium Ecclesiae, 1973, 4; cf. also Directory, 75 and Ut Unum Sint, 37.

25 E.g., Roman Catholic Church-World Council of Churches Joint Working Group, 6th Report and Appendix B: "The Notion of Hierarchy of Truths—An Ecumenical Interpretation": Information Service, No. 74,1990/III, pp. 63 and 85-90.

26 Cf Directory, 178-182.

27 Ibid., 182.

28 Ut Unum Sint, 80; see also 36-39, 80-81 and Ch. 2 passim.

29 Cf Directory, 77-78.

30 Cf ibid., 76-78, 179-182.

31 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 14, 22-23; cf also Directory, 76a, and Ut Unum Sint, 47-49.

32 Directory, 76b.

33 Cf ibid., 16 and 76b.

34 Cf ibid., 76c and Ut Unum Sint, 36-39.

35 Cf Directory, 172 and 178-182.

36 Cf Ut Unum Sint, 8 1.

37 Cf Directory, 76.

38 Cf ibid., 81, 191-195; see also 91 a.

39 Cf ibid., 72.

40 Cf ibid., 72, 79-80, 83-84.

41 Cf ibid., 79.

42 Cf ibid., 82, 85-86.

43 Cf ibid., 80.

44 Cf ibid., 79.

45 Cf ibid., 80a.

46 Cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, I and Ut Unum Sint, Ch. 1, esp. 1-14.

47 Cf Directory, 80b and 79.

48 Cf biblical references mentioned in Vatican Council II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 1-4, Unitatis Redintegratio, 2, and Ut Unum Sint, 5-9. See also standard biblical dictionaries.

49 Cf Directory, 79a.

50 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 1 and 4 and Ut Unum Sint, 1- 14.

51 Cf Directory, 13-16, and Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Certain Aspects of the Church as Communion" (1992).

52 Cf Directory, 79b; see also Nos. 9-25 and 76

53 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 15 and Unitatis Redintegratio, 13-23; and also Ut Unum Sint, 10-14.

54 Cf Directory, 79c.

55 Cf ibid., 79d.

56 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 2-4 and Lumen Gentium, 14; cf also Catechism of the Catholic Church, 815 and Ut Unum Sint, 9, 77.

57 E.g., World Council of Churches, Canberra Declaration, 2. 1: (Signs of the Spirit: Geneva: World Council of Churches, 199 1).

58 Unitatis, Redintegratio, 8; cf. Directory, 79g and also Ut Unum Sint, 21-27, 44-45 and 82-85.

59 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 6-7 and Ut Unum Sint, 15 and 82-83.

60 Cf. Ut Unum Sint, 21-27 and Directory, Ch. 3, B, esp. 102-121.

61 Cf Directory, 183-186 and Ut Unum Sint, 45.

62 Cf Directory, 187 and Ut Unum Sint, 46.

63 Cf. Directory, 188-190.

64 Cf Ut Unum Sint, 83-85.

65 Cf Directory, 50.

66 Cf ibid., 79e.

67 Cf Ut Unum Sint, 79.

68 For this topic, cf ibid., 95-96.

69 Cf Directory, 79f; see also Ch. 4.

70 Cf ibid., 92-100.

71 Cf ibid., 102-121.

72 Cf ibid., 104, 122-136.

73 Cf ibid., 143-160.

74 Cf for example, ibid., 43, 46; John Paul II, apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (1988); apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994).

75 Cf Vatican Council II, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem; cf also John Paul II, apostolic exhortation Christifidelis Laici (1988).

76 Cf Directory, 205-209 and Ut Unum Sint, 98-99.

77 Jn. 17:21. Cf. Vatican Council II, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, 2 and 6; John Paul II, encyclical Redemptoris Missio, 1, and Ut Unum Sint, 98.

78 Cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 1 and Ad Gentes, 6; cf. also Pope Paul VI, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 77; Redemptoris Missio, 50; Directory, 205; Ut Unum Sint, 99.

79 Cf. Ad Gentes, 15; Evangelii Nuntiandi, 77; Directory 206-209; and Ut Unum Sint, 99.

80 Cf Ad Gentes, 13, and Unitatis Redintegratio, 4; cf. also bibliography provided for topic of proselytism in Note 82.

81 Roman Catholic-WCC Joint Working Group, "The Ecumenical Dialogue on Moral Issues: Potential Sources of Common Witness or of Divisions": Information Service, No. 91, 1996/III, pp. 83-90.

82 Statements about proselytism can be found in the following: Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatis Humanae, 4; Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Shenouda III, Common Declaration (May 10, 1973), reprinted in Information Service, No. 76, 1991/1 pp. 8-9; and "Principles for Guiding the Search for Unity Between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church" and the joint protocol to the principles (June 23, 1979), ibid., 1991/1, pp. 30-32; John Paul II, "Letter to European Bishops on Relations Between Catholics and Orthodox in the New Situation of Central and Eastern Europe": Information Service, No. 81, 1992/III-IV, pp. 101-103; Pontifical Council for Russia, "General Principles and Practical Norms for Coordinating the Evangelizing Activity and Ecumenical Commitment of the Catholic Church in Russia and Other Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States," ibid., pp. 104-108; cf. also: Baptist-Roman Catholic International Conversations, 1984-1988, "Summons to Witness to Christ in Today's World: A Report on the Baptist-Roman Catholic International Conversations": Information Service, No. 72, 1990/1, pp. 5-14, esp. 9-10; Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue on Mission, 1977-1984, "A Report": Information Service, No. 60, 1986/I-II, pp. 70-97, esp. 95-96. Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, "Uniatism, Method of Union of the Past and the Present Search for Full Communion": Information Service, No. 83, 1993/II, pp. 95-99; RC-WCC Joint Working Group, "Common Witness and Proselytism. A Study Document" (Appendix to the Third Report): Information Service, No. 14, 1971/II, pp. 18-23; ibid., "Common Witness": Information Service, No. 44, 1980/III-IV, pp. 142-162; ibid., "The Challenge of Proselytism and the Calling to Common Witness": Information Service, No. 91, 1996/I-II, pp. 77-83; cf. also Directory, 23.

83 Episcopal conferences and synods of the Eastern Catholic churches should provide for clear teaching on this matter especially where sects and new religious movements offer major theological and pastoral challenges. Since the Catholic Church distinguishes them from churches and ecclesial communities, they are not directly treated by the Directory (cf. Nos. 35-36). Cf. Secretariats for Promoting Christian Unity, for Non-Christians, for Nonbelievers and Pontifical Council for Culture, "Sects or New Religious Movements: Pastoral Challenge": Information Service, No. 61, 1986/Ill, pp. 144-154; and Vatican Working Group on New Religious Movements, Sects and New Religious Movements: An Anthology of Texts from the Catholic Church 1986-1994, Washington: U.S. Catholic Conference, 1995 (also available in other languages).

84 Directory, 80c.

85 —Ecumenical dictionaries, concordances and comparative thematic studies, for example: Y. Congar (ed.), Vocabulaire Oecumenique, Paris: Cerf (Coll. Theologie sans Frontieres), 1970; H. Kruger et al. (eds.), Okumenelexikon, Frankfurt: Lembec/Knecht, 1987, 2nd ed.; N. Lossky et al., Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, Geneva/ Grand Rapids/London: WCC/Wm. Eerdmans/ CCBI, 1991.

—Historic and contemporary confessional texts such as the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles; the confessional writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church; the Heidelberg Catechism; the Confessio Helvetica; Evangelischer Erwachsenenkatechismus; confessional writings and catechisms of Orthodox churches.

—Documents, reports and agreed statements produced by bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues. Bibliographical references for bilateral dialogues involving the Catholic Church are published from time to time in the above-mentioned bulletin of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, e.g., in Information Service, No. 82, 1993/I, pp. 39-46; Information Service, No. 89, 1995/II-III, pp. 97-99. Collections of documents and statements have been published in different languages.

—Histories of the ecumenical movements such as R. Rouse & S.C. Neill (eds.) History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948, Geneva: WCC, 1986, 3rd. ed.; H.E. Fey (ed.), The Ecumenical Advance. A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1948-1968, Geneva: WCC, 1986, 2nd ed.

86 Cf ibid., 82, 85-86.

87 Cf ibid., 81, 191-203. What is feasible will of course depend on the local situation, the strengths of the different churches and whether qualified people are available.

88 Cf ibid., 91

ORIGINS, CNS Document Service, 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017-1100.

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