Jesus said “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
Jesus prayed that all his followers, all Christians, would be one. The divisions and disputes between Christians through the centuries have shattered this unity. Ecumenism seeks to bring Christians together to love one another as God loves us and so to proclaim the Gospel.
The Catholic Church is totally committed to this ecumenical journey.
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. (Second Vatican Council: Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, 21 November 1964 #1)
- Ecumenism within the Archdiocese of Brisbane
Ecumenism within the Archdiocese of Brisbane
The Archdiocese of Brisbane shows its commitment to ecumenism in a number of ways:
The Archdiocesan Council for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations promotes opportunities for Catholics to pray, dialogue and work on common projects with other Christians. It provides educational resources on ecumenism and guidelines on ecumenical issues.
The Council for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations has a mandate to The Council for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations has a mandate to assist and resource the Archbishop, the Auxiliary Bishops and other Clergy, and the people of the Archdiocese to ensure that ecumenism and inter-religious relations are organic elements of the life and mission of the Archdiocese pervading all that the Church is and does.In order to carry out its mandate, the Council:
- Promotes relations between the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches.
- Initiates opportunities for and co-operates with other Christian traditions in ecumenical prayer.
- Promotes local conversations and dialogues between the Catholic Church and other Christian traditions.
- Promotes joint witness to the Christian faith by cooperation with other churches in education and social issues.
- Works with appropriate bodies to prepare guidelines and policies on issues within the Council’s mandate.
- Promotes educational programs to support the Catholic community in ecumenical understanding and projects particularly for parishes, schools, young adults and other diocesan bodies.
- Co-ordinates and promotes ecumenical programs for use in various ecumenical groups.
- Fosters knowledge and understanding of the unique bond between Jews and Christians, and organises conversations and activities with the Jewish community.
- Takes initiatives with people from other religious traditions to promote mutual understanding, respect, enrichment and cooperation for the greater good of all.
- Represents the Archdiocese when appropriate on ecumenical and interreligious bodies.
- Mr Chris Ehler (Chairperson)
- Ms Margaret Naylon (Executive Officer)
- Fr Chukwudi Chinaka
- Mrs Kim Davis
- Bishop Ken Howell
- Dr Antonia Pizzey
- Lorraine Wynne
The Archdiocese was a founding member of Queensland Churches Together, the council of churches in Queensland, and is active in its operation.
- Anglican Roman Catholic Covenant
Anglican Roman Catholic Covenant
On 29 May 1982, His Holiness Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to travel to Canterbury Cathedral where he met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. On the second anniversary of this historical event Archbishops John Grindrod and Francis Rush signed a Common Declaration at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, which highlighted the warm relationships that had existed between Anglican and Roman Catholic communities of the respective Dioceses of Brisbane over many years.
To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the signing of this Common Declaration and the joint Sesquicentenary of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Dioceses of Brisbane, a major ecumenical event took place at the Cathedral of St Stephen on Friday 29 May 2009. A Covenant was signed by Archbishops Phillip Aspinall (Anglican), John Bathersby (Roman Catholic) and Bishop William Morris (Roman Catholic, Toowoomba). The territory under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba is contained within the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane. Warm relationships have continued to grow in both areas over the years and this Covenant is an expression of the commitment of all three communities to ecumenical friendship and cooperation.
Covenant Document – A resource to introduce the Covenant to parishes, schools and institutions was produced.
Brisbane Catholic Education supports three schools within its system which are initiatives of their local communities and which operate ecumenically. These are:
- Faiths Connect (newsletter)
- Newsletter Archive
- Blessed and Broken
On Eucharistic Hospitality – Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane
- Ecumenical Schools: A Roman Catholic Perspective
Archdiocese of Brisbane 2009>
- Ecumenical Worship
Pastoral Guidelines – Ecumenical Task Group on Collaborative Local Ministry, Queensland.
- Australian Churches Covenanting Together
National Covenant signed by Member Churches of the NCCA in Adelaide, July 2004
- The Impulse of God’s Grace: Pastoral Letter on the Centenary of the Ecumenical Movement 2010
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
- Living Church in Rural Queensland 2009
Outcomes of a Summit involving representatives of the Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting Churches in Queensland
- Decree On Ecumenism
Unitatis Redintegratio from Second Vatican Council
- Directory For The Application Of Principles And Norms On Ecumenism
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
- Ut Unum Sint
On Commitment to Ecumenism – Encyclical of John Paul II
- Joint Declaration on Justification
Between the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church 1999
- Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
- Archdiocese of Sydney Commission for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations
- Archdiocese of Melbourne Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission
- National Council Of Churches in Australia
- Queensland Churches Together
- Anglican Church Diocese of Brisbane
- Lutheran Church of Australia, Queensland District
- Uniting Church in Australia Queensland Synod
- Uniting Church in Australia Queensland Synod Ecumenical Relations Committee
- Downs and South West Queensland Churches Together
- The Holy See (The Vatican): The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
- World Council Of Churches
- Centro Pro Unione: The Franciscan Friars of The Atonement Website for Christian Unity
- International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission
- World Methodist Roman Catholic Dialogue
- Ecumenical News International
- Interchurch Families Association
- Revised Common Lectionary for Ecumenical Worship
- Prairie Centre for Ecumenism (Canada)
- Living Word Living Tradition
Ecumenical Resource based on the Report of the National Dialogue between the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches (2008-2011).
- The Mission of the Church
- Reflections on the Mission of the Church
A four-session small group study program for use by Christians from a range of traditions.
- What is the Mission of the Church?
(Roman Catholic Perspective) Seven brief “prayerful ponderings” for use before meetings etc.
- What is the Mission of the Church?
(Uniting Church Perspective) Seven brief “prayerful ponderings” for use before meetings etc.
- Reflections on the Mission of the Church
- Christians In Dialogue
A series of parish level discussion programs intended to be used ecumenically.
- Church as Communion
A discussion resource based on the Anglican Roman Catholic International Dialogue.
- Justification: A Common Statement of the Australian Lutheran – Roman Catholic Dialogue
A small group study resource written to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999.
- Not just doing Ecumenical Things… But doing Things Ecumenically
Practical strategies for the implementation of the Nine Synod Priorities ecumenically.
- The Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University offers a Distance Learning Master’s Program in Ecumenical Studies.
- Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Geneva
- Tantur Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies, Jerusalem
- The Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College, Dublin
- Blessed and Broken
- Exploding some myths
Exploding some myths
While ecumenism can be described as the bringing together of members of all the Christian families and traditions throughout the world in a spirit of unity, this does not clarify what this unity actually means or will look like.
Let us explode a few myths:
- Ecumenism is NOT about creating a “mega-church”. Unity does not mean uniformity, with all Christians thinking and behaving in exactly the same way.
- Ecumenism is NOT about “converting” people. There are many committed and faith-filled people in all Christian traditions and we can learn so much from each other.
- Ecumenism is NOT to be confused with Interfaith (see our section on Interfaith Relations). Christians share the same faith in God as Trinity and Jesus as God and Saviour. Interfaith refers to dialogue with other world religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, which have different belief systems.
- Ecumenism is NOT “watering down” or betraying the central and cherished beliefs of one’s own tradition in an attempt to find common ground or be “nice” to others. A good ecumenist is one who is deeply committed to his or her own tradition and who is prepared to enter into dialogue with other Christians in order to come to an understanding of the truth of the one true Church of Jesus Christ.
- Ecumenism is NOT just theologians debating difficult doctrinal concepts. Ecumenism is for everyone.
- Ecumenism IS celebrating the things we hold in common with other Christians and acknowledging our differences. It IS dialoguing with other Churches in mutual respect and openness on issues that divide us in search of the truth in love.
- Ecumenism IS unity in diversity. If we look at our own Catholic parishes we can see that diversity already exists within the Catholic Church. Across the world, we see the liturgy celebrated in numerous languages with a wide variety of cultural and religious traditions incorporated into the practice of the faith. The Church of Rome is in communion with a number of Churches from the Eastern Rite which provide even greater diversity in liturgy and discipline. Diversity is certainly not new to the Church.
First and foremost, ecumenism is about a change of heart.
“There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without interior conversion. For it is from newness of attitudes of mind, from self-denial and unstinted love, that desires of unity take their rise and develop in a mature way.” (Second Vatican Council: Decree on Ecumenism # 7,)
And so, we are all called to a change of attitude of mind and heart. To be open and loving in our relationships with all Christians, so that together we may listen and come to understand that unity which Jesus so earnestly prayed for at the Last Supper (John 17:21). What Christian unity will ultimately look like is in God’s hands. It is up to us, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to build the bridges and to examine our own lives to ensure that we are open to the truth wherever we may find it.
- Prayer for Christian Unity
Prayer for Christian Unity
O Holy Spirit,
As breath, breeze and great wind,
As flame and fire,
As inspiration and imagination,
As Lord and giver of life,
You have come through the ages to God’s people.
Come now and heal the church,
make us one that the Reign of God
may be proclaimed through all the world
and God’s saving power may touch all people,
through the ministry of the Body of Christ.
(Thanks to Toowoomba Roman Catholic Diocesan Commission for Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations for this prayer)
For further information regarding ecumenism within the Archdiocese of Brisbane contact:
Executive Officer Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations
GPO Box 282,
Brisbane Qld 4001