Mission of the Ecumenism Commission
The Council of Nicea
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
Develop within the parish a commitment to ecumenism/interfaith dialogue as integral to its life and ministry. Promote dialogue with other denominations, faith formation within the Catholic tradition, and a clear understanding of Catholic doctrine as it touches the lives of other Christians, Jews, other religions, and non-believers.
Plan and coordinate efforts to heal divisions among Christians within the territory of the the parish.
Reach out to people of good will who seek one faith, one baptism in Jesus Christ.
Invite and guide dialogue through study groups with other Christian and non-Christian groups.
Plan ecumenical programs and prayer experiences, as exemplified by the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Cooperates with other local congregations in their programs and activities promoting ecumenism.
We all have something in common, not only with each other within our congregation, but every other human being on the face of this Earth. That commonality is this: we are all created by the same God, our loving Father, who sees in us His children all of whom are imbued with the same intrinsic value; and who have all, at one time or another, been prodigals in need of returning home. Let us as a community reach out to separated brothers and sisters and learn how much more we have in common, and focus less on those things that divide us.
The Catholic Church on Ecumenism
Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,(19) which the Apostle strongly condemned.(20) But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body,(21) and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.(22)
Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.
The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.
It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.
Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life-that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is "the all-embracing means of salvation," that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God. This people of God, though still in its members liable to sin, is ever growing in Christ during its pilgrimage on earth, and is guided by God's gentle wisdom, according to His hidden designs, until it shall happily arrive at the fullness of eternal glory in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian is never contrary to what genuinely belongs to the faith; indeed, it can always bring a deeper realization of the mystery of Christ and the Church. Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio) Chapter 1 #4
The concern for restoring unity involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone, according to the talent of each, whether it be exercised in daily Christian living or in theological and historical studies. Decree on Ecumenism Chapter II #5
When I say for me, Bishop of Rome, the ecumenical task is one of the pastoral priorities of my Pontificate, I think of the grave obstacle which the lack of unity represents for the proclamation of the gospel. A Christian Community which believes in Christ and desires with gospel fervour the salvation of people can hardly be closed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who leads all Christians towards full and visible unity. On commitment to Ecumenism 99