Saturday, April 24, 2010


Here are some issues raised during the National Workshop on Christian Unity (NWCU) during our sessions in Tampa this past week. I don’t propose answers but only the opportunity to think about the questions in our personal lives and in the life of our parishes and dioceses. Just notice that the terms “ecumenical” and “inter-faith” are different: the first has to do with Christians speaking to other Christians; the second, Christians speaking to non-Christian religions.

1. “All real inter-religious dialogue is local.” How “dialogic” are we as individuals and as parishes and as dioceses?
2. How do we go about fostering an ecumenical “theology of communion” with others, engaging them as partners in Christ?
3. The first step in all dialogue is entering into relationships. Does this describe us?
4. Does “ecumenical fatigue” whisper to us that there’s no real point so why bother with dialogue?
5. Is the Holy Spirit active in the ecumenical movement? Is the Holy Spirit active in inter-faith dialogue?
6. When thinking about moral issues that divide denominations, do we recognize that these issues are also divisive within denominations?
7. Is it possible to form consciences, define moral absolutes, examine the place of natural law, and accept authoritative teaching in dialogue and not unilaterally?
8. What is the place, in this process of discernment, of naming/confessing our sins together, as church bodies?
9. “Foolishness is a greater threat to Good than Evil is.” Would we agree?
10. Should our goal in dialogue be true ecclesiastical reconciliation or simply mutual understanding/acceptance/tolerance?

I hope you can see the depth of the issues we were struggling to face during the week of the conference. The establishment of relationships was something I was very blessed with during the time—the one weakness is that I will not be able to encounter most of these people until next year’s NWCU, nor will I likely engage these ideas in the same way and with the same intensity and sense of urgency. We all know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”…

Still, I hope this can stimulate you to thoughts that are new, perhaps daring, and hopefully Spirit-filled. We are coming to the Solemnity of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit. And had it not been for the perpetual transfer of the Solemnity of the Ascension to the following Sunday, we would also be hearing the Gospel prayer of Jesus, “May they all be one” (John 17:23). The questions I am offering need to be prayed through, in light of the explicit desire of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pray well, think well, love well!

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