Church highlights Christian unity decree 50 years on

PeterAndrewFifty years ago, the Catholic Church published these words: “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council.”

With this impulse, the Church and her faithful embarked committedly on the path of ecumenical dialogue and never looked back.

The citation above is the opening line of the Church’s Decree on Ecumenism, one of the guiding documents that resulted from the Second Vatican Council, titled Unitatis Redintegratio.

This week, the Church is marking the 50th anniversary of this decree. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity has organized vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on Thursday at 6 p.m. On Friday morning, the council will hold a half-day conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, who heads the Council for Christian Unity, will address participants. Other speakers include Bishop Irinej Bulovic of Backa, Serbia; Rev Timothy George of the Baptist World Alliance; Capuchin Father William Henn; Teny Pirri Simonian of the Armenian Apostolic (Orthodox) Church; and Friederike Nussel of the Lutheran Church.

Unitatis Redintegratio recognizes the divisions and the points of agreement among Christians. It emphasizes the need for renewal, dialogue, mutual study, theological conversation, and cooperation in social issues. It also affirms that the growing international ecumenical impulse is inspired and desired by God.

“Today, in many parts of the world, under the inspiring grace of the Holy Spirit, many efforts are being made in prayer, word and action to attain that fullness of unity which Jesus Christ desires. The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 4).

For the past 28 years, The Lay Centre has been committed to making its particular contribution to the cause of Christian unity through prayer, study, dialogue and community. We pray and celebrate with the Church on this anniversary and we congratulate the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity for their exceptional commitment and work in this important mission.

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