Extracts from Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Vatican, 1993)

The Search for Christian Unity

9. The ecumenical movement seeks to be a response to the gift of God's grace which calls all Christians to faith in the mystery of the Church according to the design of God who wishes to bring humanity to salvation and unity in Christ through the Holy Spirit. This movement calls them to the hope that the prayer of Jesus "that they all may be one" will be fully realized.9 It calls them to that charity which is the new commandment of Christ and the gift by which the Holy Spirit unites all believers. The Second Vatican Council clearly asked Catholics to reach out in love to all other Christians with a charity that desires and works actively to overcome in truth whatever divides them from one another. For the Council, Catholics are to act in hope and in prayer to promote Christian unity. They will be prompted and instructed by their faith in the mystery of the Church, and their ecumenical activity will be inspired and guided by a true understanding of the Church as "a sacrament or instrumental sign of intimate union with God, and of unity of the whole human race".10

10. The teaching of the Church on ecumenism, as well as the encouragement to hope and the invitation to love find their official expression in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and especially in Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio. Subsequent documents about ecumenical activity in the Church, including the Ecumenical Directory (1967-1970) build on the theological, spiritual and pastoral principles stated in the conciliar documents. They have explored more fully some topics indicated in the conciliar documents, developed theological terminology and provided more detailed norms of action, all based, however, on the teaching of the Council itself.

Ecumenism in the Life of Christians

22. The ecumenical movement is a grace of God, given by the Father in answer to the prayer of Jesus35 and the supplication of the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit.36 While it is carried out within the general mission of the Church to unite humanity in Christ, its own specific field is the restoration of unity among Christians.37 Those who are baptized in the name of Christ are, by that very fact, called to commit themselves to the search for unity.38 Baptismal communion tends towards full ecclesial communion. To live our Baptism is to be caught up in Christ's mission of making all things one.

27. In the diocese, gathered around the Bishop, in the parishes and in the various groups and communities, the unity of Christians is being constructed and shown forth day by day:46 men and women hear the Word of God in faith, pray, celebrate the sacraments, serve one another, and show forth the Gospel of salvation to those who do not yet believe. However, when members of the same family belong to different Churches and ecclesial Communities, when Christians cannot receive Communion with their spouse or children, or their friends, the pain of division makes itself felt acutely and the impulse to prayer and ecumenical activity should grow.


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