The commitment of the whole Church to ecumenism, as consistently set out in magisterial documents from Vatican II onwards, is irrevocable: the purpose of the course is to help each student to enter wholeheartedly into that commitment, making it his own. On the one hand, necessary and accurate knowledge will be imparted, so that the student learns to be at ease with ecumenism, discovering what it is, why it matters and how to engage in it. On the other hand, the course also operates on a spiritual level, aiming to foster in the student the interior attitudes which are required for fruitful ecumenical activity, and which the Church expects of its future priests and pastoral agents. This will sometimes involve a change of heart, as the ecumenical imperative takes root and initial hesitations are overcome, and it will always requires personal growth.
Introductory Section. 1. The meaning of ecumenism: the Church’s irrevocable commitment to pray and work for Christian unity. Principles of ecumenical dialogue, and the attitudes required. The central importance of spiritual ecumenism. 2. An overview of the theological foundations for this commitment to Christian unity, with emphasis on such aspects as Christ’s High-Priestly Prayer and our common baptism. 3. Diverse approaches to ecumenism: the dialogue of life, social ecumenism, common action and local initiatives, taking a positive pastoral approach to inter-church marriages etc. Historical Section. 4. The History of Division among Christians from the early centuries to the present day, indicating ways in which non-theological factors often affected theological issues. 5. Historical attempts at reunion, and the beginnings and growth of the modern ecumenical movement. Protestant and Orthodox initiatives and the Catholic Church’s engagement. 6. The role of early pioneers and the emergence of ecumenical institutions: the WCC, National and Local Councils of Churches, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity etc. Emergence of ecumenical communities like Taizé, the Iona Community, the ‘Groupe des Dombes’, ‘Chemin Neuf’ etc. Contemporary Ecumenism. Analysis of major Catholic documents on ecumenism: Unitatis Redintegratio, the Directory on Ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint etc. The role of the PCPCU in fostering Catholicecumenism. 7. Bilateral Ecumenical Dialogues in which the Catholic Church is officially engaged: some examples, introduction to texts and themes, discussion of methodology. 8. Multilateral Dialogues. Two key texts: BEM and ‘The Church: towards a Common Vision’. 9. Ecumenical education for the Church’s pastoral agents, and for the laity, so as to foster authentic ecumenical attitudes among all the faithful at the local level. The urgent need to develop appropriate tools for this, and the primordial importance of spiritual ecumenism. Learning Outcomes: After this course the student will have grown in his knowledge of and commitment to ecumenism, as understood and practised in the Catholic Church. It is hoped that he will be able to explain and communicate this commitment convincingly and effectively to others, in a balanced and correct manner, and that he will indeed desire to do so. The course will have equipped him to become an active participant in and promoter of ecumenism, in accordance with Catholic principles. He will therefore be able to encourage others to become likewise involved, in ways appropriate to their circumstances. Insofar as further growth on the part of the student will still be required if the ecumenical seed that has been sown in him is to bear fruit, he will at least have acquired the right basis - and appropriate tools - from which to cultivate his interest in this vital aspect of the Church’s life.
Professor’s notes BLISS FREDERICK, Catholic and Ecumenical: History and Hope:Why the Catholic Church is Ecumenical and What She is Doing About It (London, Sheed and Ward 1999); BRIGGS JOHN, ODUYOYE, MERCY AMBA AND TSETESS GEORGES (ed.), A History of the Ecumenical Movement Volume 3:1968 – 2000 (Geneva, WCC Publications 32004); Faith and Order, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry. Faith and Order paper no. 111 (Geneva, WCC Publications 1982); ID., The Church: Towards A Common Vision. Faith and Order Paper No. 214 (Geneva, WCC Publications 2013); FEY HAROLD E. (ed.), The Ecumenical Advance: A Historyof the Ecumenical Movement Volume 2: 1948-1968 (Geneva, WCC Publications 2004); GROS JEFFREY F.-FUCHS LORELEI F., Growthin Agreement III: International Dialogue Texts and Agreed Statements, 1998-2005. Faith and Order Paper No. 204 (Geneva, WCC Publications 2007); ID., MEYER HARDING-RUSCH WILLIAM G., Growthin Agreement II: Reports and Agreed Statements of Ecumenical Conversations on a World Level, 1982-1998. Faith and OrderPaper No. 187 (Geneva, WCC Publications 2000); ID., MCMANUS EAMON-RIGGS ANN, Introduction toEcumenism (New York, Paulist Press 1998); HILL CHRISTOPHER-YARNOLD EDWARD (ed), Anglicansand Roman Catholics: The Search for Unity: the ARCIC Documents and their Reception (London, SPCK 1994); HOFRICHTER PETER-Marte JOHANN (ed.), Documentson Unity in Faith between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Pro Oriente XXXVI (Innsbruck, Tyrolia Verlag 2013); IARCCUM. Growing Together in Unity and Mission: Building on 40 Years of Anglican – Roman Catholic Dialogue (London, SPCK 2007) (available online in pdf format from ‘Anglican Communion’); KINNAMON MICHAEL-COPE BRIAN E. (ed.), The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices (Geneva, WCC Publications 1997); ROUSE RUTH-NEILL STEPHEN C. (ed.), A History of the Ecumenical Movement: Volume 1: 1517-1948 (Geneva, WCC Publications 2004); VISCHER LUKAS-MEYER HARDING (ed.), Growth in Agreement: Reports and Agreed Statements of Ecumenical Conversations on a World Level (Ecumenical Documents) (Geneva, WCC Publications 1984).