Friday, April 20, 2012


In my 3+ days in Oklahoma City at the National Workshop on Christian Unity, I attended plenary sessions and break-out sessions sponsored by the national organization, as well as seminars sponsored especially by CADEIO (the Catholic Association of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Officers).  I had the chance, as well, to get to know others involved in the ecumenical effort—Protestant and Catholic, ordained and lay, men and women.  They came from Maryland and California, from Louisiana and Kentucky, from Texas and Georgia.  It was a rich experience.
Having returned to Mobile, let me offer some of the questions and challenges it stimulated (perhaps some of these are a repeat of points already mentioned, but many are not).  They are in no particular order except the order of the pages of notes I took that are now on my desk:

If the goal of dialogue is mutual agreement, how do I determine when a stance on a particular question must be given a response of “either/or,” and when it can be given a response of “both/and”?  In this light, I think of the principle of canon law (canon 18) that laws involving penalties are to be interpreted strictly (that is, narrowly), while laws involving benefits or rewards are to be interpreted broadly. 

Am I willing to push the dialogue as far as I can?

Do we see each other’s dialogue partners as we are today, or do we insist on viewing each other through the (negative) lenses of historical background and prejudice?

Can we not only hold another’s view of their own Scripture as sacred, but also hold their Scripture as sacred?

When I encounter others in dialogue or relationship, do I remember to “take off my shoes” for fear of treading on someone’s holy ground?  Can I remember that God is there even before I show up?

Pope John XXIII called on the Church to be open to the “signs of the times.”  How open/aware am I of the new “signs of the times” today?

What is, in my mind, the status of other Christian denominations beyond my own, and that of other non-Christian religions?

Muslims who wish to impose Sharia’ upon everyone in their country might justify their position by saying, “If you tolerate other views, this means you do not really believe your own.”  What would be my response?

How do I best respect the positions of my dialogue partners without betraying my own position?

How can I best “keep out of God’s way” and be “a door-keeper for the Holy Spirit,” remembering that the path to unity is being followed on a time-table other than my own?

These questions are not necessarily all “burning questions,” but they are all worth pondering—whether or not you happen to be involved in ecumenical dialogue.  After all, as we live and work together, in the long run we are ALL either working for or against mutual respect, understanding and unity.

1 comment:

  1. It is heartening--no, it is a gift to receive these blogs on the current state of ecumenism. That many religious members from strongly held creeds continue to meet seems unreal in the current divisiveness of our shared world. The passion expressed by many astute minds is obvious. Most are heavily involved with disparate roles and yet commit their time to this ecumenical venture.
    All of us, who are non-participants, can be receptive to the ideals mixed with realism. We can support the goals but need direction to participate. It is understood by the active leaders that their input is only as good as their openness to the Holy Spirit, who undoubtedly is leading them now. It is only through the magnitude of the Holy Spirit that the ultimate promise of LOVE will be felt by all.