Ecumenical Commission

The Diocesan Ecumenical Commission or Secretariat
(from Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, Vatican, 1993)

42. In addition to the diocesan officer for ecumenical questions, the diocesan Bishop should set up a council, commission or secretariat charged with putting into practice any directives or orientations he may give and, in general, with promoting ecumenical activity in the diocese.52 Where circumstances call for it, several dioceses grouped together may form such a commission or secretariat.

43. The commission or secretariat should reflect the totality of the diocese and generally include among its members clergy, religious men and women and lay people of various competencies, and especially those with particular ecumenical expertise. It is desirable that representatives of the presbyterial council, the pastoral council, diocesan and regional seminaries be included among the members of the commission or secretariat.

This commission should cooperate with such institutions or ecumenical initiatives as already exist, or are to be set up, making use of their help where the occasion presents itself. It should be ready to support the ecumenical officer and to be available to other diocesan work and individual initiatives for mutual exchange of information and ideas. Of particular concern should be contacts with parishes and parish organizations, with the apostolic initiatives being conducted by members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, and with movements and associations of lay people.

44. Besides the other functions already assigned to it, the commission should:

a) put into practice the decisions of the diocesan Bishop for implementing the teaching and directives of the Second Vatican Council on ecumenism, as well as those of the post-conciliar documents emanating from the Holy See, Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches and Episcopal Conferences;

b) maintain relations with the territorial ecumenical commission (cf. below), adapting the latter's recommendations and advice to local conditions. When circumstances suggest, information about experiences and their results as well as other useful information should be sent to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;

c) foster spiritual ecumenism according to the principles given in the conciliar Decree on Ecumenism and in other sections of this Directory about public and private prayer for the unity of Christians;

d) offer help and encouragement by such means as workshops and seminars for the ecumenical formation of both clergy and laity, for the appropriate realization of an ecumenical dimension to all aspects of life, and giving special attention as to how seminary students are prepared for the ecumenical dimension of preaching, catechetics and other forms of teaching, and pastoral activity (e.g., pastoral care in mixed marriages) etc.;

e) promote friendliness and charity between Catholics and other Chris- tians with whom full ecclesial communion does not yet exist according to the suggestions and guidelines given below (especially nn. 205-218);

f) initiate and guide conversations and consultations with them, bearing in mind the adaptation to be observed in accordance with the diversity of the participants and subjects of dialogue;53

g) propose experts to undertake dialogue on the diocesan level with other Churches and ecclesial Communities;

h) promote, in collaboration with other diocesan bodies and with other Christians joint witness to Christian faith, to the extent that this is possible, as well as cooperation in such areas as education, public and private morality, social justice, matters connected with culture, learning and the arts;54

i) propose to the Bishops the exchange of observers and guests on the occasion of important conferences, synods, installation of religious leaders and other similar occasions.

45. Within the dioceses, parishes should be encouraged to participate in ecumenical initiatives on their own level and, where possible to set up groups which are responsible to carry out these activities (cf. below, n. 67); they should remain in close contact with the diocesan authorities, exchanging information and experience with them and with other parishes and other groups.

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