Canadian Bishops Mark 50th Anniversary of Vatican II's Ecumenism Document

Say Overcoming Division Is Every Christian’s Responsibility

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To mark the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has published a document titled: “A Church in Dialogue, Catholic Ecumenical Commitment.»

The divisions between Christians are in contradiction with the Gospel, the document said. “Christ calls us to be reconciled with one another in order that we might give a more faithful witness to his love for all of humanity.”

Striving to overcome these divisions is the responsibility of every Christian, the CCCB stressed. “This work begins by coming to know others as they truly are, by avoiding any misrepresentation of the faith and practice of other Christians, and acknowledging the many gifts that we share from our common tradition.”

There are many beliefs in common between Christians, the statement continued, and what we share in our faith is greater than that which divides us.

In our interaction with other Christians we need to start with an attitude of humility and repentance. “We can learn and receive from the insights and experiences of other Christian communities as we seek to renew the life of the Catholic Church

in fidelity to the gospel.”

The last fifty years has seen a significant amount of dialogue with other Christian Churches and communities. “We have uncovered surprising levels of common understanding and convergence in faith,” the statement explained.  As well: “We have also clarified the sources of persistent disagreement.”

The CCCB went on to give a brief summary of the various encounters between the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches.

The document went on to look at the dimension of spiritual ecumenism, highlighting the importance of prayer. “The practice of prayer is an indispensable means of sustaining the activities of common witness and dialogue as we progress along the

path to Christian unity.”

The gathering together of Christian communities for events such as baptisms, marriages, and funerals, is an opportunity to pray together. “Even though it may not be possible to share fully at the table of the Lord, these are important opportunities for common prayer that can strengthen our communion in faith and deepen our desire for full ecclesial unity.”

Achieving Christian unity will not be an easy or quick task the Canadian bishops acknowledged. “Pope Francis observes that Christian unity will not appear in a sudden miraculous way. Rather, it will be the fruit of a long and patient effort, as we open ourselves to the grace of God’s reconciling Spirit.”

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