Open Access Articles- Top Results for Ecumenism


File:Brother Roger at prayer.jpg
Brother Roger, Swiss Christian leader and monastic, who founded the ecumenical Taizé Community, and was its first prior until his murder in 2005.

Ecumenism is any interdenominational initiative aimed at greater cooperation among Christian churches.

Seeking a single Church

Ecumenism is the idea of a Christian unity in the literal meaning: that there should be a single Church. Ecumenism is separate and distinct from nondenominational Christianity, which seeks no common organizing principle.

This specific sense of the word contrasts with interfaith dialogue or interfaith pluralism aimed at unity or cooperation among diverse religions and referring to a worldwide "religious unity" by the advocacy of a greater sense of shared spirituality.

The word is derived from Greek οἰκουμένη (oikoumene), which means "the whole inhabited world", and was historically used with specific reference to the Roman Empire. The ecumenical vision comprises both the search for the visible unity of the Church (Ephesians 4:3) and the "whole inhabited earth" (Matthew 24:14) as the concern of all Christians.

In Christianity the qualification ecumenical is originally (and still) used in terms such as "Ecumenical council" and "Ecumenical patriarch" in the meaning of pertaining to the totality of the larger Church (such as the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church) rather than being restricted to one of its constituent churches or dioceses. Used in this original sense, the term carries no connotation of re-uniting the historically separated Christian denominations.

Christian ecumenism and interfaith pluralism

File:Christian Flag etc Covenant Presbyterian Long Beach 20050213.jpg
The Christian Flag, which was designed to represent Christianity, aims at "the recovery in thought, in action, and in organization, of the true unity between the Church's mission to the world (its apostolate) and the Church's obligation to be one".[1] Thus, ecumenism is the promotion of unity or cooperation between distinct sects or denominations of Christianity.

Ecumenism is distinguished from and should not be misused to mean interfaith pluralism. The interfaith movement strives for greater mutual respect, toleration, and co-operation among the world religions. Interfaith dialogue between representatives of diverse faiths does not necessarily intend reconciling their adherents into full, organic unity with one another, but simply to promote better relations.

For some Catholics it may, but not always, have the goal of reconciling all who profess Christian faith to bring them into a single, visible organization, i.e. through union with the Roman Catholic Church.

For some Protestants, spiritual unity, and often unity on the church's teachings on central issues, suffices. According to Lutheran theologian Edmund Schlink, most important in Christian ecumenism is that people focus primarily on Christ, not on separate church organizations. In Schlink's book Ökumenische Dogmatik (1983), he says Christians who see the risen Christ at work in the lives of various Christians or in diverse churches realize that the unity of Christ's church has never been lost,[2] but has instead been distorted and obscured by different historical experiences and by spiritual myopia.

Both are overcome in renewed faith in Christ. Included in that is responding to his admonition (John 17; Philippians 2) to be one in him and love one another as a witness to the world. The result of mutual recognition would be a discernible worldwide fellowship, organized in a historically new way.[3]

An example of ecumenism is the invention of and growing usage of the Christian Flag, which was designed to represent all of Christendom.[4] The flag has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton.[4]

Ecumenical movement

One understanding of the ecumenical movement is that it came from the Roman Catholic Church's attempts to reconcile with Christians who had become separated over theological issues.[5] Others see the 1910 World Missionary Conference as the birthplace of the ecumenical movement.[6] Others yet point to the 1920 encyclical of the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Germanos of Constantinople "To the Churches of Christ Everywhere" that suggested a "fellowship of churches" similar to the League of Nations.[7]

Nathan Söderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala, the head of the Lutheran church in Sweden, is known as the architect of the ecumenical movement of the twentieth century. During the First World War, he called on all Christian leaders to work for peace and justice. His leadership of the Christian "Life and Work" movement in the 1920s has led him to be recognised as one of the principal founders of the ecumenical movement. His was instrumental in chairing the World Conference of Life and Work in Stockholm, in 1925. At the Stockholm Conference in 1925, the culminating event in Söderblom's ecumenical work, the Anglican, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians were all present and participating, with the exception of the Catholic Church, much regretted absence. He was a close friend of the English ecumenist George Bell. In 1930 was one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, for the:Cooperation between Christian Church Communities Brings Peace and the first clergyman to receive this prize.[8][9]

After World War I, which had brought much devastation to many people, the church became a source of hope to those in need. In 1948 the first meeting of the World Council of Churches took place. Despite the fact that the meeting had been postponed due to World War II, the council took place in Amsterdam with the theme of "Man’s Disorder and God’s Design".[5] The focus of the church and the council following the gathering was on the damage created by the Second World War. The council and the movement went forward to continue the efforts of unifying the church globally around the idea of helping all those in need, whether it be a physical, emotional, or spiritual need. The movement led to an understanding amongst the churches that, despite difference, they could join together to be an element of great change in the world. To be an agent of hope and peace amongst the chaos and destruction that humans seem to create. More importantly the council and the movement lead to not only ecumenism but to the forming of councils amongst the denominations that connected churches across continental lines.[5]

Today, the World Council of Churches sees its role as sharing "the legacy of the one ecumenical movement and the responsibility to keep it alive" and acting "as a trustee for the inner coherence of the movement".[10]

Three approaches to Christian unity

For a significant part of the Christian world, one of the highest goals to be sought is the reconciliation of the various denominations by overcoming the historical divisions within Christianity. Even where there is broad agreement upon this goal, approaches to ecumenism vary. Generally, Protestants see fulfillment of the goal of ecumenism as consisting in general agreements on teachings about central issues of faith, with mutual pastoral accountability between the diverse churches regarding the teachings of salvation.

For Catholics and Orthodox on the other hand, the true unity of Christendom is treated in accordance with their more sacramental understanding of the Body of Christ; this ecclesiastical matter for them is closely linked to key theological issues (e.g. regarding the Eucharist and the historical Episcopate), and requires full dogmatic assent to the pastoral authority of the Church for full communion to be considered viable and valid. Thus, there are different answers even to the question of the church, which finally is the goal of the ecumenist movement itself. However, the desire of unity is expressed by many denominations, generally that all who profess faith in Christ in sincerity, would be more fully cooperative and supportive of one another.

For the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the process of approaching one another is formally split in two successive stages: the "dialogue of love" and the "dialogue of truth". To the former belong the mutual revocation in 1965 of the anathemas of 1054 (see below Contemporary developments), returning the relics of Sabbas the Sanctified (a common saint) to Mar Saba in the same year, and the first visit of a Pope to an Orthodox country in a millennium (Pope John Paul II accepting the invitation of the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Teoctist, in 1999), among others. The later one, involving effective theological engagement on matters of dogma, is only just commencing.

Christian ecumenism can be described in terms of the three largest divisions of Christianity: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant. While this underemphasizes the complexity of these divisions, it is a useful model.

Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church has always considered it a duty of the highest rank to seek full unity with estranged communions of fellow-Christians and, at the same time, to reject what it sees as a false union that would mean being unfaithful to or glossing over the teaching of sacred scripture and tradition.

Before the Second Vatican Council, the main stress was laid on this second aspect, as exemplified in canon 1258 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law:

  1. It is illicit for the faithful to assist at or participate in any way in non-Catholic religious functions.
  2. For a serious reason requiring, in case of doubt, the Bishop's approval, passive or merely material presence at non-Catholic funerals, weddings and similar occasions because of holding a civil office or as a courtesy can be tolerated, provided there is no danger of perversion or scandal.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law has no corresponding canon. It absolutely forbids Roman Catholic priests to concelebrate the Eucharist with members of communities which are not in full communion (canon 908), but allows, in certain circumstances and under certain conditions, other sharing in the sacraments. The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 102[11] states: "Christians may be encouraged to share in spiritual activities and resources, i.e., to share that spiritual heritage they have in common in a manner and to a degree appropriate to their present divided state."

Pope John XXIII, who convoked the council that brought this change of emphasis about, said that the council's aim was to seek renewal of the church itself, which would serve, for those separated from the See of Rome, as a "gentle invitation to seek and find that unity for which Jesus Christ prayed so ardently to his heavenly Father".[12]

Some elements of the Roman Catholic perspective on ecumenism are illustrated in the following quotations from the council's decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio of 21 November 1964, and Pope John Paul II's encyclical, Ut Unum Sint of 25 May 1995.

Every renewal of the Church is essentially grounded in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this is the basis of the movement toward unity ... There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart. For it is from renewal of the inner life of our minds, from self-denial and an unstinted love that desires of unity take their rise and develop in a mature way. We should therefore pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to be genuinely self-denying, humble. gentle in the service of others, and to have an attitude of brotherly generosity towards them. ... The words of St. John hold good about sins against unity: "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us". So we humbly beg pardon of God and of our separated brethren, just as we forgive them that trespass against us.[13]
Christians cannot underestimate the burden of long-standing misgivings inherited from the past, and of mutual misunderstandings and prejudices. Complacency, indifference and insufficient knowledge of one another often make this situation worse. Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord's disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today.[14]
In ecumenical dialogue, Catholic theologians standing fast by the teaching of the Church and investigating the divine mysteries with the separated brethren must proceed with love for the truth, with charity, and with humility. When comparing doctrines with one another, they should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a "hierarchy" of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith. Thus the way will be opened by which through fraternal rivalry all will be stirred to a deeper understanding and a clearer presentation of the unfathomable riches of Christ.[15]
The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?...Even so, doctrine needs to be presented in a way that makes it understandable to those for whom God himself intends it.[16]
When the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on his Church from the beginning. We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.[17]

While some Eastern Orthodox churches commonly baptize converts from the Roman Catholic Church, thereby refusing to recognize the baptism that the converts have previously received, the Roman Catholic Church has always accepted the validity of all the sacraments administered by the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches.

The Roman Catholic Church likewise has very seldom applied the terms "heterodox" or "heretic" to the Eastern Orthodox churches or its members, though there are clear differences in doctrine, notably about the authority of the Pope, Purgatory, and the filioque clause. More often, the term "separated" or "schismatic" has been applied to the state of the Eastern Orthodox churches.


File:Consecration of The Right Reverend Weller.jpg
The consecration of The Rt. Rev Weller as an Anglican bishop at the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle in the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, with the Rt. Rev. Anthony Kozlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church and the Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow (along with his chaplains Fr. John Kochurov, and Fr. Sebastian Dabovich) of the Russian Orthodox Church present

The Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches are two distinct bodies of local churches. The churches within each body share full communion, although there is not official communion between the two bodies. Both consider themselves to be the original church, from which the West was divided in the 5th and 11th centuries, respectively (after the 3rd and 7th Ecumenical councils).

Many theologians of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxies engage in theological dialogue with each other and with some of the Western churches, though short of full communion. The Eastern Orthodox have participated in the ecumenical movement, with students active in the World Student Christian Federation since the late 19th century. Most Eastern Orthodox[18] and all Oriental Orthodox churches[19] are members of the World Council of Churches. Kallistos of Diokleia, a bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church has stated that ecumenism "is important for Orthodoxy: it has helped to force the various Orthodox Churches out of their comparative isolation, making them meet one another and enter into a living contact with non-Orthodox Christians."[20]

Historically, the relationship between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion has been congenial, with the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1922 recognising Anglican orders as valid. He wrote: "That the orthodox theologians who have scientifically examined the question have almost unanimously come to the same conclusions and have declared themselves as accepting the validity of Anglican Orders."[21] Moreover, some Eastern Orthodox bishops have assisted in the ordination of Anglican bishops; for example, in 1870, the Most Reverend Alexander Lycurgus, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Syra and Tinos, was one of the bishops who consecrated Henry MacKenzie as the Suffragan Bishop of Nottingham.[22] From 1910-1911, the era before World War I, Raphael of Brooklyn, an Eastern Orthodox bishop, "sanctioned an interchange of ministrations with the Episcopalians in places where members of one or the other communion are without clergy of their own."[23] Bishop Raphael stated that in places "where there is no resident Orthodox Priest", an Anglican (Episcopalian) priest could administer Marriage, Holy Baptism, and the Blessed Sacrament to an Orthodox layperson.[24] In 1912, however, Bishop Raphael ended the intercommunion after becoming uncomfortable with the fact that the Anglican Communion contained different churchmanships within Her, e.g. High Church, Evangelical, etc.[23] However, after WWI, the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius was organized in 1927, which much like the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association worked on ecumenism between the two Churches; both of these organisations continue their task today.[25]

In accordance with the Soviet anti-religious legislation under the state atheism of the Soviet Union, several Russian Orthodox churches and seminaries were closed.[26][27] With ecumenical aid from the Methodist Church, two Russian Orthodox seminaries were reopened; leaders of the Orthodox Church thankfully stated that "The services rendered by the American Methodists and other Christian friends will go down in history of the Orthodox Church as one of its brightest pages in that dark and trying time of the church. Our church will never forget the Samaritan service which your whole Church unselfishly rendered us. May this be the beginning of closer friendship for our Churches and nations.[28]

Anglicanism and Protestantism

For more details on the on-going dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the wider Church, see Anglican communion and ecumenism.

The members of the Anglican Communion have generally embraced the Ecumenical Movement, actively participating in such organizations as the World Council of Churches and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Most provinces holding membership in the Anglican Communion have special departments devoted to ecumenical relations; however, the influence of Liberal Christianity has in recent years caused tension within the communion, causing some to question the direction ecumenism has taken them.

Each member church of the Anglican Communion makes its own decisions with regard to intercommunion. Many of them are currently out of communion with other provinces of the Anglican Communion. The 1958 Lambeth Conference recommended "that where between two Churches not of the same denominational or confessional family, there is unrestricted communio in sacris, including mutual recognition and acceptance of ministries, the appropriate term to use is 'full communion', and that where varying degrees of relation other than 'full communion' are established by agreement between two such churches the appropriate term is 'intercommunion'."

Full communion has been established between Provinces of the Anglican Communion and these Churches:

The Episcopal Church is currently engaged in dialogue with the following religious bodies:

Worldwide, an estimated forty million Anglicans belong to churches that do not participate in the Anglican Communion[citation needed], a particular organization limited to one province per country. In these Anglican churches, there is strong opposition to the ecumenical movement and to membership in such bodies as the World and National Councils of Churches. Most of these churches are associated with the Continuing Anglican movement or the movement for Anglican realignment. While ecumenicalism in general is opposed, certain Anglican church bodies that are not members of the Anglican Communion—the Free Church of England and the Church of England in South Africa, for example—have fostered close and cooperative relations with other evangelical (if non-Anglican) churches, on an individual basis.

Nicolaus Ludwig, Count von Zinzendorf, (1700–1760) the renewer of the Unitas Fratrum / Moravian Church in the 18th century, was the first person to use the word "ecumenical" in this sense. His pioneering efforts to unite all Christians, regardless of denominational labels, into a "Church of God in the Spirit"—notably among German immigrants in Pennsylvania—were misunderstood by his contemporaries and 200 years before the world was ready for them.

The contemporary ecumenical movement for Protestants is often said to have started with the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference. However this conference would not have been possible without the pioneering ecumenical work of the Christian youth movements: the Young Men's Christian Association (founded 1844), the Young Women's Christian Association (founded 1855), the World Student Christian Federation (founded 1895), and the Federal Council of Churches (founded 1908), predecessor to today's National Council of Churches USA.

Led by Methodist layman John R. Mott (former YMCA staff and in 1910 the General Secretary of WSCF), the World Mission conference marked the largest Protestant gathering to that time, with the express purposes of working across denominational lines for the sake of world missions. After the First World War further developments were the "Faith and Order" movement led by Charles Henry Brent, and the "Life and Work" movement led by Nathan Soderblom. In the 1930s, the tradition of an annual World Communion Sunday to celebrate ecumenical ties was established in the Presbyterian Church and was subsequently adopted by several other denominations.

Eventually, formal organizations were formed, including the World Council of Churches in 1948, the National Council of Churches in the USA in 1950, and Churches Uniting in Christ in 2002. These groups are moderate to liberal, theologically speaking, as Protestants are generally more liberal and less traditional than Anglicans, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics.

Protestants are now involved in a variety of ecumenical groups, working in some cases toward organic denominational unity and in other cases for cooperative purposes alone. Because of the wide spectrum of Protestant denominations and perspectives, full cooperation has been difficult at times. Edmund Schlink's Ökumenische Dogmatik 1983, 1997 proposes a way through these problems to mutual recognition and renewed church unity.

In 1999, the representatives of Lutheran World Federation and Roman Catholic Church signed The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, resolving the conflict over the nature of Justification which was at the root of the Protestant Reformation, although some conservative Lutherans did not agree to this resolution. On July 18, 2006 Delegates to the World Methodist Conference voted unanimously to adopt the Joint Declaration.[29][30]

Contemporary developments

File:Taizé prayer.JPG
Ecumenical worship service at the monastery of Taizé.

Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

The mutual anathemas (excommunications) of 1054, marking the Great Schism between Western (Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) branches of Christianity, a process spanning several centuries, were revoked in 1965 by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. The Roman Catholic Church does not regard Orthodox Christians as excommunicated, since they personally have no responsibility for the separation of their churches. In fact, Catholic rules admit the Orthodox to communion and the other sacraments in situations where the individuals are in danger of death or no Orthodox churches exist to serve the needs of their faithful. However, Orthodox churches still generally regard Roman Catholics as excluded from the sacraments and some may even not regard Catholic sacraments such as baptism and ordination as valid.

In November 2006, Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Istanbul at the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and participated in the feast day services of St. Andrew the First Apostle, the patron saint of the Church of Constantinople. The Ecumenical Patriarch and Pope Benedict had another historic meeting in Ravenna, Italy in 2007. The Declaration of Ravenna marked a significant rapprochement between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox positions. The declaration recognized the bishop of Rome as the Protos, or first among equals of the Patriarchs. This acceptance and the entire agreement was hotly contested by the Russian Orthodox Church. The signing of the declaration highlighted the pre-existing tensions between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarchate. Besides their theological concerns, the Russian Orthodox have continuing concerns over the question of the Eastern Catholic Churches that operate in what they regard as Orthodox territory. This question has been exacerbated by disputes over churches and other property that the Communist authorities once assigned to the Orthodox Church but whose restoration these Churches have obtained from the present authorities.

A major obstacle to improved relations between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches has been the insertion of the Latin term filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in the 8th and 11th centuries.[31] This obstacle has now been effectively resolved. The Roman Catholic Church now recognizes that the Creed, as confessed at the First Council of Constantinople, did not add "and the Son", when it spoke of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father. When quoting the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, as in the 6 August 2000 document Dominus Iesus, it does not include filioque.[32] It views as complementary the Eastern-tradition expression "who proceeds from the Father" (profession of which it sees as affirming that he comes from the Father through the Son) and the Western-tradition expression "who proceeds from the Father and the Son", with the Eastern tradition expressing firstly the Father's character as first origin of the Spirit, and the Western tradition giving expression firstly to the consubstantial communion between Father and Son; and it believes that, provided this legitimate complementarity does not become rigid, it does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.[33]

Continuing dialogues at both international and national level continue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but major future developments will probably have to await the outcome of the 2016 Ecumenical Council of the Orthodox Church.

Issues within Protestantism

Contemporary developments in mainline Protestant churches have dealt a serious blow to ecumenism. The decision by the U.S. Episcopal Church to ordain Gene Robinson, an openly gay, non-celibate priest who advocates same-sex blessings, as bishop led the Russian Orthodox Church to suspend its cooperation with the Episcopal Church. Likewise, when the Church of Sweden decided to bless same-sex marriages, the Russian Patriarchate severed all relations with the Church, noting that "Approving the shameful practice of same-sex marriages is a serious blow to the entire system of European spiritual and moral values influenced by Christianity."[34]

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev commented that the inter-Christian community is "bursting at the seams". He sees the great dividing line—or "abyss"—not so much between old churches and church families as between "traditionalists" and "liberals", the latter now dominating Protestantism, and predicted that other Northern Protestant Churches will follow suit and this means that the "ecumenical ship" will sink, for with the liberalism that is materializing in European Protestant churches, there is no longer anything to talk about.[35]

Organizations such as the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches USA, Churches Uniting in Christ, Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship and Christian Churches Together continue to encourage ecumenical cooperation among Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and, at times, Roman Catholics. There are universities such as the University of Bonn in Germany that offer degree courses in "Ecumenical Studies" in which theologians of various denominations teach their respective traditions and, at the same time, seek for common ground between these traditions.

Influenced by the ecumenical movement, the "scandal of separation" and local developments, a number of United and uniting churches have formed; there are also a range of mutual recognition strategies being practiced where formal union is not feasible. An increasing trend has been the sharing of church buildings by two or more denominations, either holding separate services or a single service with elements of all traditions.


Opposition from some Methodists

There are some in The United Methodist Church who oppose the forms of ecumenism which are "not grounded in the doctrines of the Church" due to the fear of doctrinal compromise.[36] For example, an article published in Catalyst Online: Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives for United Methodist Seminarians stated that false ecumenism might result in the "blurring of theological and confessional differences in the interests of unity".[37]

Opposition from some Lutherans

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) bars its clergy from worshiping with other faiths, holding "that church fellowship or merger between church bodies in doctrinal disagreement with one another is not in keeping with what the Bible teaches about church fellowship".[38] In practice of this: a Connecticut LCMS pastor was asked to apologize by the President of the denomination, and did so, for participating in an interfaith prayer vigil for the 26 children and adults killed at a Newtown elementary school, and a LCMS pastor in New York was suspended for praying at an interfaith vigil in 2001, 12 days after the September 11 attacks.[39]

Opposition from some Orthodox Christians

See also: Sobornost

Practically, "the whole of Eastern Orthodoxy holds membership in the World Council of Churches."[40] Ecumenical Patriarch Germanus V of Constantinople's 1920 letter "'To all the Churches of Christ, wherever they may be', urging closer co-operation among separated Christians, and suggesting a 'League of Churches', parallel to the newly founded League of Nations" was a inspiration for the founding of the World Council of Churches; as such "Constantinople, along with several of the other Orthodox Churches, was represented at the Faith and Order Conferences at Lausanne in 1927 and at Edinburgh in 1937. The Ecumenical Patriarchate also participated in the first Assembly of the WCC at Amsterdam in 1948, and has been a consistent supporter of the work of the WCC ever since."[41]

However, there exists a small group of Orthodox Christians who are vehemently opposed to ecumenism with other Christian denominations. They view ecumenism, as well as interfaith dialog, as being potentially pernicious to Orthodox Church Tradition; a "weakening" of Orthodoxy itself.[42] In the Eastern Orthodox world, the monastic community of Mount Athos, arguably the most important center of Orthodox spirituality, has voiced its concerns regarding the ecumenist movement and opposition to the participation of the Orthodox Church.[43] They regard modern ecumenism as compromising essential doctrinal stands in order to accommodate other Christians, and object to the emphasis on dialogue leading to intercommunion rather than conversion on the part of participants in ecumenical initiatives. Greek Old Calendarists also claim that the teachings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils forbid changing the church calendar through abandonment of the Julian calendar.[citation needed] The Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference entitled "Ecumenism: Origins, Expectations, Disenchantment",[44] organized in September 2004 by the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki has drawn negative conclusions on ecumenism.

Popular culture

The word ecumenical arises in the Father Ted episode Tentacles of Doom, in which Father Ted sets out to train the drunken and bad-tempered Father Jack to say two all-encompassing phrases in response to questions from three visiting bishops, namely "Yes" and "that would be an ecumenical matter".[45]

In the strategy game Europa Universalis III, the player can select "Ecumenism" as a National Idea. This increases tolerance of "heretical religions" (i.e. religions that are related to but not part of the state's religion) within the player's country.

Ecumenical organizations

See also


  1. ^ "The Calling of the Church to Mission and to Unity," Theology Today, vol. 9, no. 1 (April 1952): 15.
  2. ^ Edmund Schlink, Ökumenische Dogmatik (1983), pp. 694–701; also his "Report," Dialog 1963, 2:4, 328.
  3. ^ Edmund Schlink, Ökumenische Dogmatik (1983), pp. 707–708; also Skibbe, A Quiet Reformer 1999, 122–4; Schlink, The Vision of the Pope 2001.
  4. ^ a b "The Christian Flag". Prayer Foundation. Retrieved 2007-10-18. The flag's most conspicuous symbol is the Christian cross, the most universal symbol for Christianity. The red color represents the blood of Christ and brings to mind his crucifixion. Christians believe that Jesus Christ's death and resurrection is the means God uses to save believers from their sins. The cross and blood have been used since earliest Christianity to symbolize salvation through Jesus; in the words of the Apostle Paul, "And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself;"—Colossians 1:20. The white field draws on symbolism throughout the Bible equating white clothes with purity and forgiveness. People who have been "washed white as snow" in the Bible have been cleansed from their sins (Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:2). In conventional vexillology (the study of flags, their history and symbolism), a white flag is linked to surrender, a reference to the Biblical description Jesus' non-violence and surrender to God's will. The symbolism behind the blue canton has been interpreted to represent Heaven, truth, or the Christian ritual of Baptism in water. 
  5. ^ a b c Howard C. Kee et al., Christianity: a Social and Cultural History, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 1998), 379–81.
  6. ^ Latourette, Kenneth Scott. "Ecumenical Bearings of the Missionary Movement and the International Missionary Council." In "A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948", edited by Ruth Rouse and Stephen Charles Neill, 353-73, 401-02. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1954.
  7. ^ Grdzelidze, Tamara. "Ecumenism, Orthodoxy and" In "The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity", edited by John Anthony McGuckin , 208-15. Wiley Blackwell, 2011.
  8. ^ "Nathan Söderblom, Nobel Prize Winner". / Retrieved 2015. 
  9. ^ "nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1930/soderblom-facts". Retrieved 2015. 
  10. ^ "The WCC and the ecumenical movement". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  11. ^ Directory For The Application Of Principles And Norms On Ecumenism
  12. ^ Encyclical Ad Petri cathedram
  13. ^ Unitatis Redintegratio 6–7
  14. ^ Encyclical Ut unum sint, 2[]
  15. ^ Unitatis Redintegratio, 11[]
  16. ^ Encyclical Ut unum sint, 18-19[]
  17. ^ Unitatis Redintegratio, 4[]
  18. ^ "Orthodox churches (Eastern)". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  19. ^ "Orthodox churches (Oriental)". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  20. ^ Ware, Kallistos (28 April 1993). The Orthodox Church. Penguin Adult. p. 322. ISBN 9780140146561. 
  21. ^ The Ecumenical Patriarch on Anglican Orders
  22. ^ Redmile, Robert David (1 September 2006). The Apostolic Succession and the Catholic Episcopate in the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada. p. 239. ISBN 9781600345173. In 1870, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Syra and Tinos, the Most Reverend Alexander Lycurgus, paid a visit to the British Isles. During his time in England, Archbishop Lycurgus was invited by the Lord Bishop of London, John Jackson, to join with him in consecrating Henry MacKenzie as the Suffragan Bishop of Nottingham. Archbishop Lycurgus agreed to assist, and on 2 February 1870, he joined in the laying on of hands with the Bishop of London at the consecration of Bishop MacKenzie. Thus the Apostolic Succession in the Greek Orthodox Church was passed on to the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, and through them to the Christian Episcopal Churches in the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada. 
  23. ^ a b Herbermann, Charles (1912). The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church. Robert Appleton. p. 149. This A.E.O.C.U. is particularly active in the United States, where the existence side by side of Westerns and Easterns offers special facilities for mutual intercourse. It is due mainly to its instances that the orthodox Bishop Raphael of Brooklyn recently sanctioned an interchange of ministrations with the Episcopalians in places where members of one or the other communion are without clergy of their own-a practice which, as coming from the Orthodox side, seemed strange, but was presumably justified by the "principle of economy" which some Orthodox theologians unaccountably advocate (see Reunion Magazine, Sept., 1910). 
  24. ^ Journal of the Proceedings of the One Hundred and Ninth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. The Rumford Press. 1910. p. 411. Retrieved 15 April 2014. Inasmuch as there is a variance between your and our Churches in these matters, I suggest that, before any marriage Service is performed for Syrians desiring the services of the Protestant Episcopal Clergy, where there is no Orthodox Priest, that the Syrians shall first procure a license from me, their Bishop, giving them permission, and that, where there is a resident Orthodox Priest, that, the Episcopal Clergy may advise them to have such Service performed by him. Again, in the case of Holy Baptism, that, where there is no resident Orthodox Priest, that the Orthodox law in reference to the administration of the Sacrament be observed, namely immersion three times, with the advice to the parents and witnesses that, as soon as possible, the child shall be taken to an Orthodox Priest to receive Chrismation, which is absolutely binding according to the Law of the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, when an Orthodox Layman is dying, if he confesses his sins, and professes that he is dying in the full communion of the Orthodox Faith, as expressed in the Orthodox version of the Nicene Creed, and the other requirements of the said Church, and desires the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, at the hands of an Episcopal Clergyman, permission is hereby given to administer to him this Blessed Sacrament, and to be buried according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Episcopal Church. But, it is recommended that, if an Orthodox Service Book can be procured, that the Sacraments and Rites be performed as set forth in that Book. And now I pray God that He may hasten the time when the Spiritual Heads of the National Churches, of both yours and ours, may take our places in cementing the Union between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches, which we have so humbly begun; then there will be no need of suggestions, such as I have made, as to how, or by whom, Services shall be performed; and, instead of praying that we "all may be one" we shall known that we are one in Christ's Love and Faith. RAPHAEL, Bishop of Brooklyn. 
  25. ^ Church Quarterly Review. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. January–March 1964. In 1927, the "Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius" was founded, becoming, like the "Anglican and Eastern Church Association", one of the chief focal points of these contacts. 
  26. ^ Greeley, Andrew M. Religion in Europe at the End of the Second Millennium: A Sociological Profile. Transaction Publishers. p. 89. ISBN 9781412832984. Seminaries were closed, churches turned into museums or centers for atheist propaganda, the clergy rigidly controlled, the bishops appointed by the state. 
  27. ^ Gerhard Simon (1974). Church, State, and Opposition in the U.S.S.R. University of California Press. On the other hand the Communist Party has never made any secret of the fact, either before or after 1917, that it regards 'militant atheism' as an integral part of its ideology and will regard 'religion as by no means a private matter'. It therefore uses 'the means of ideological influence to educate people in the spirit of scientific materialism and to overcome religious prejudices..' Thus it is the goal of the C.P.S.U. and thereby also of the Soviet state, for which it is after all the 'guiding cell', gradually to liquidate the religious communities. 
  28. ^ Rev. Thomas Hoffmann; William Alex Pridemore. "Esau’s Birthright and Jacob’s Pottage: A Brief Look at Orthodox-Methodist Ecumenism in Twentieth-Century Russia" (PDF). Demokratizatsiya. Retrieved 19 October 2009. The Methodists continued their ecumenical commitments, now with the OC. This involved a continuance of financial assistance from European and American resources, enough to reopen two OC seminaries in Russia (where all had been previously closed). OC leaders wrote in two unsolicited statements: The services rendered... by the American Methodists and other Christian friends will go down in history of the Orthodox Church as one of its brightest pages in that dark and trying time of the church.... Our Church will never forget the Samaritan service which... your whole Church unselfishly rendered us. May this be the beginning of closer friendship for our churches and nations. (as quoted in Malone 1995, 50-51) 
  29. ^ "News Archives". July 20, 2006. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  30. ^ "CNS STORY: Methodists adopt Catholic-Lutheran declaration on justification". July 24, 2006. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  31. ^ "Cathecism of the Catholic Church, 247". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  32. ^ "Dominus Iesus". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  33. ^ "Article 1 of the Treaty of Brest". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  34. ^ Russian Orthodox Church condemns Lutheran gay weddings Pravda, 30 December 2005. Accessed 24 March 2009.
  35. ^ Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Will the Ecumenical Ship Sink? The Official Website of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Accessed 24 March 2009.
  36. ^ William J. Abraham (2012). "United Methodist Evangelicals and Ecumenism" (PDF). Southern Methodist University. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  37. ^ Randall Balmer (1998). "The Future of American Protestantism". Catalyst Online: Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives for United Methodist Seminarians. Retrieved 11 November 2012. [dead link]
  38. ^ "A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod" (PDF). Concordia Publishing House. 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  39. ^ "Pastor apologizes for role in prayer vigil after Connecticut massacre". Reuters. 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013. [dead link]
  40. ^ Fey, Harold C. (1 December 2009). A History of the Ecumenical Movement, Volume 2: 1948-1968. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 304. ISBN 9781606089101. With the exception of the Orthodox Church of Albania the whole of Eastern Orthodoxy holds membership in the World Council of Churches. 
  41. ^ Ware, Kallistos (29 April 1993). The Orthodox Church. Penguin Adult. p. 322. ISBN 9780140146561. From the beginning of the twentieth century the Ecumenical Patriarchate has shown a special concern for Christian reconciliation. At his accession in 1902, Patriarch Joachim III sent an encyclical letter to all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, asking in particular for their opinion on relations with other Christian bodies. In January 1920 the Ecumenical Patriarchate followed this up with a bold and prophetic letter addressed 'To all the Churches of Christ, wherever they may be', urging closer co-operation among separated Christians, and suggesting a 'League of Churches', parallel to the newly founded League of Nations. Many of the ideas in this letter anticipate subsequent developments in the WCC. Constantinople, along with several of the other Orthodox Churches, was represented at the Faith and Order Conferences at Lausanne in 1927 and at Edinburgh in 1937. The Ecumenical Patriarchate also participated in the first Assembly of the WCC at Amsterdam in 1948, and has been a consistent supporter of the work of the WCC ever since. 
  42. ^ Patrick Barnes. "Ecumenism Awareness Introduction". Orthodox Christian Information Center. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  43. ^ The Theological Committee of the Sacred Community of Mount Athos (2007-02-18). "Memorandum on the Participation of the Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches". Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  44. ^ "Conclusions of the Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference "Ecumenism: Origins Expectations Disenchantment"". Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  45. ^ "Father Ted" Tentacles of Doom (TV Episode 1996) - Quotes - IMDb


  • Borkowski, James D. "Middle East Ecumenism from an Anglican Perspective" Cloverdale Books (2007) ISBN 978-1-929569-23-6 [1]
  • Chandler, Andrew. Archbishop Fisher, 1945–1961: Church, State and World, chap. 6. The Archbishops of Canterbury Series. Farnham, U.K., and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2012.
  • Hedegard, David. Ecumenism and the Bible. Amsterdam: International Council of Christian Churches, 1954.
  • Hein, David. "The Episcopal Church and the Ecumenical Movement, 1937–1997: Presbyterians, Lutherans, and the Future." Anglican and Episcopal History 66 (1997): 4–29.
  • Hein, David. "Radical Ecumenism." Sewanee Theological Review 51 (June 2008): 314–328. Proposes that mainline Protestants, such as Episcopalians, have much to learn from heirs of the Radical Reformation, including the Amish.
  • A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948, edited by Ruth Rouse and Stephen Charles Neill (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954).
  • The Ecumenical Advance: A History of the Ecumenical Movement, volume 2, 1948-1968, edited by Harold E. Fey (London: S.P.C.K., 1970).
  • A History of the Ecumenical Movement, volume 3, 1968-2000, edited by John Briggs, Mercy Amba Oduyoye and Georges Tsetsis (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2004).
  • Kasper, Walter, That They May All Be One: The Call to Unity Today (London: Burns & Oates, 2004).
  • Kasper, Walter, Harvesting the Fruits: Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue (New York: Continuum, 2009).
  • Mackay, John A., Ecumenics: The Science of the Church Universal (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc: 1964).
  • Mastrantonis, George. "Augsburg and Constantinople : The Correspondence between the Tübingen Theologians and Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople on the Augsburg Confession." Holy Cross Orthodox Press (1982), reprinted (2005). ISBN 0-916586-82-0
  • Metzger, John Mackay, The Hand and the Road: The Life and Times of John A. Mackay (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010).
  • Ut Unum Sint ("That they may be one"), an encyclical by Pope John Paul II of May 25, 1995 on commitment to ecumenism.
  • Unitatis Redintegratio ("Restoration of Unity"), Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964.
  • Visser ’t Hooft, Willem Adolf, "Appendix I: The Word ‘Ecumenical’ – Its History and Use," in A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948, edited by Ruth Rouse and Stephen Charles Neill (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), 735-740.
  • Weigel, Gustave, S.J., A Catholic Primer on the Ecumenical Movement (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1957).
  • McSorley, Harry J., C. S. P., Luther: Right or Wrong? An Ecumenical-Theological Study of Luther's Major Work, The Bondage of the Will, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Augsburg Publishing House, 1968. [2] Originally published under the German title: Luthers Lehre vom unfreien Willen: nach seiner Hauptschrift De servo arbitrio im Lichte der biblischen und kirchlichen Tradition [3] in: Beiträge zur ökumenischen Theologie, Band II, hrsg. (herausgegeben i.e. editor),]
  • Antonio Calisi, L'Ecumenismo, il Rinnovamento Carismatico Cattolico e la Comunità di Gesù, Bari Chàrisma Edizioni, 2015. ISBN 9788890855948.

Further reading

  • Amess, Robert. One in the Truth?: the Cancer of Division in the Evangelical Church. Eastbourne, Eng.: Kingsway Publications, 1988. N.B.: Primarily concerns the quest for unity among evangelical Protestant denominations. ISBN 0-86065-439-7
  • Bray, Gerald L. Sacraments & Ministry in Ecumenical Perspective, in series, Latimer Studies, 18. Oxford, Eng.: Latimer House, 1984. ISBN 0-946307-17-2
  • Episcopal Church (U.S.A.). Ecumenical Relations Office. About the Concordat: 28 Questions about the Agreement between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Church of America [i.e. the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America]. Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement Publications, [1997?]. 43 p. Without ISBN
  • Florovsky, Georges Vasilievich, et al. La Sainte église universelle: confrontation oécuménique, in series, Cahiers théologiques de l'Actualité protestante, hors série, 4. Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Delachaux et Niestlé, 1948.
  • Headlam, Arthur Cayley, Bp. Christian Unity. London: Student Christian Movement Press, 1930. 157 p. N.B.: This study's orientation is Anglican (Church of England).
  • Mascall, Eric Lionel. The Recovery of Unity: a Theological Approach. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1958.
  • Waddams, Herbert. The Church and Man's Struggle for Unity, in series and subseries, Blandford History Series: Problems of History. London: Blandford Press, 1968. xii, 268 p., b&w ill. N.B.: An account of ecumenical problems and strivings within the entire history of Christianity.

External links

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