Key ecumenical & interfaith organizations

Essential texts

  • Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (1993)
    6. The new edition of the Directory is meant to be an instrument at the service of the whole Church and especially of those who are directly engaged in ecumenical activity in the Catholic Church. The Directory intends to motivate, enlighten and guide this activity, and in some particular cases also to give binding directives in accordance with the proper competence of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In the light of the experience of the Church in the years since the Council and taking account of the present ecumenical situation, the Directory brings together all the norms already established for implementing and developing the decisions of the Council given up to the present and brings them up to date when necessary. It strengthens the structures that have been developed for the support and guidance of ecumenical activity at every level of the Church. While fully respecting the competence of authorities at different levels, the Directory gives orientations and norms of universal application to guide Catholic participation in ecumenical activity. Their application will provide consistency and coordination to the various practices of ecumenism by which particular Churches and groups of particular Churches respond to their different local situations. It will guarantee that ecumenical activity throughout the Catholic Church is in accordance with the unity of faith and with the discipline that binds Catholics together.
  • The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of those Engaged in Pastoral Work (1997)
    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 more 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 specialised 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.

    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.

  • Vatican II, Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Church's Relationship to Non-Christians, 1965)
    1. In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.

  • Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism, November 21, 1964)
    1. The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature."

  • Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint (encyclical on Catholic commitment to Ecumenism, 1995)
    3. At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church committed herselfirrevocably to following the path of the ecumenical venture, thus heeding the Spirit of the Lord, who teaches people to interpret carefully the "signs of the times" . The experiences of these years have made the Church even more profoundly aware of her identity and her mission in history. The Catholic Church acknowledges and confessesthe weaknesses of her members, conscious that their sins are so many betrayals of and obstacles to the accomplishment of the Saviour's plan. Because she feels herself constantly called to be renewed in the spirit of the Gospel, she does not cease to do penance. At the same time, she acknowledges and exalts still morethe power of the Lord, who fills her with the gift of holiness, leads her forward, and conforms her to his Passion and Resurrection.

    Taught by the events of her history, the Church is committed to freeing herself from every purely human support, in order to live in depth the Gospel law of the Beatitudes. Conscious that the truth does not impose itself except "by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power", she seeks nothing for herself but the freedom to proclaim the Gospel. Indeed, her authority is exercised in the service of truth and charity.

    I myself intend to promote every suitable initiative aimed at making the witness of the entire Catholic community understood in its full purity and consistency, especially considering the engagement which awaits the Church at the threshold of the new Millennium. That will be an exceptional occasion, in view of which she asks the Lord to increase the unity of all Christians until they reach full communion. The present Encyclical Letter is meant as a contribution to this most noble goal. Essentially pastoral in character, it seeks to encourage the efforts of all who work for the cause of unity.

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