U.S. Bishops to Consider New Ecumenical Forum

Proposal Asks Conference to Participate

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WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org).- U.S. bishops at their fall meeting will have to decide whether their conference should participate in the new ecumenical forum Christian Churches Together in the USA.

The new entity, CCT-USA, is intended to include all the major Christian denominations in the country, including Pentecostals and evangelicals. Its stated purpose is «To enable churches and national Christian organizations to grow closer together in Christ in order to strengthen our Christian witness in the world.»

The U.S. bishops’ plenary assembly will be held here Nov. 15-18.

While CCT-USA would not be able to speak on behalf of any participant without its agreement, it would bring Catholic teachings into a wider ecumenical community, says the proposal. It also notes that the Holy See encourages Catholic participation in ecumenical entities of this type.

Discussions among US church leaders about the possibility of forming a new ecumenical organization that would provide a «broader table» than the one provided by the National Council of Churches (NCC) began in 2001. The leadership of the NCC had recognized that since its member churches represent only about one-third of the Christians in the United States, a fuller and broader ecumenical witness was needed.

At a meeting hosted by Cardinal William Keeler in Baltimore, participants arrived at a consensus that a broader structure of some kind would be beneficial by its inclusion of the Catholic Church and major evangelical and Pentecostal groups that do not belong to the NCC. It was decided at that meeting to call the proposed new entity «The Christian Churches Together in the USA.»

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