Ecumenism: April 2010 Archives

NT Wright to retire

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The Right Rev'd Nicholas Thomas (NT) Wright, 61, Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Durham, announced his retirement effective on August 31, 2010. Wright has been the Lord Bishop of Durham since 2003. He's an Oxford educated scholar of the New Testament. He'll be taking a professorial position at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland.

The NTWrightPage....

Blessed Osanna of Kotor

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Thumbnail image for Bl Osanna of Kotor.jpgGod of compassion, enkindle anew in our hearts the love of your cross. By the life and prayers of Blessed Osanna, who suffered for the unity of the Church, may we become sharers in both your passion and your glory.

Blessed Osanna (baptized Catherine Kosic) comes from the country of Montenegro, born in the 15th century of Orthodox parents. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were priests, her brother was a monk and later a bishop. Traveling to the coast she encountered a Catholic family and through their witness and others, she converted to Catholicism. As a shepherdess and wishing to follow Christ more closely she found grace in the solitary life; Osanna took the habit of the Third Order Dominican laity and a new name. She was well known for her wisdom, mystical visions and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Her body is incorrupt. Pius XI beatified Osanna in 1934. The Church remembers Blessed Osanna for her desire for unity among Christians and peace among peoples. Therefore asks her to intercede for the Church for these intentions of unity and peace in families.
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Lord God, eternal Shepherd, You inspired the blessed virgin, Maria Gabriella, generously to offer up her life for the sake of Christian unity. At her intercession, hasten, we pray, the coming of the day when, gathered around the table of Your word and of Your Bread from heaven, all who believe in Christ may sing Your praises with a single heart, a single voice.

Blessed Maria Gabriella, Sardinian by birth in 1914, she died a Trappistine nun in 1939 at Grottaferrata, having entered the monastery four years earlier. Taking up the invitation to work for spiritual ecumenism among Christians from Father Paul Couturier who stressed that all Christians must learn to pray together for unity in union with Jesus' own prayer for the same (Jn 17). Couturier advocated a spiritual unity founded on common prayer, charity, friendship, mutual forgiveness and humility which precedes doctrinal and hierarchical unity.

Father Couturier's work found a natural habitat in the monastic life which then became fruitful among the wider church (he called the latter the invisible monastery). As a side note, Couturier was greatly influenced by the his work in Lyon, France and by Dom Lambert Beaudoin and the monks of the Belgian abbey of Amay-sur-Meuse (now at Chevetogne).

Blessed Maria Gabriella's offering of self in 1938 for the spiritual ecumenism made known by Father Paul Couturier was a renewal of the same offering made on the day of her monastic profession of vows: not only to give her early life for Christian unity also to die for unity. This self-gift was closely connected to the notion that the profession of monastic vows is not isolated from the Church universal but deeply at the center of it because of the desire to totally give oneself to God. It is THE reversal of the sin of disunity that is based on ego and not on personal conversion.

Pope John Paul II beatified her on January 25, 1983. Blessed Maria Gabriella is buried at the Trappistine abbey of Our Lady of Saint Joseph at Vitorchiano (near to Viterbo) where her original community moved. She is known as the Apostle for Spiritual Ecumenism.

I recommend to you Sister Martha Driscoll, OCSO's A Silent Herald of Unity: The Life of Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu (Cistercian Publications, 1990).

CNEWA Syria 2010.jpegAs bishop, I am told, you are asked to sit on boards and be a voice for causes that you may not have too much interest in or knowledge of. While to the new Archbishop Dolan's portfolio as the archbishop of New York, he is the chairman of the board of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and is learning lots of new and beautiful things about the Church in other parts of the world. He made a recent trip to the Middle East with members of the governing board which opened his eyes to a new reality of what it is like to be an Eastern Christian. John Cardinal Foley, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem accompanied the CNEWA board. The archbishop learned the beautiful horizons of the East and the limits thereof.

Read Archbishop Dolan's reflections on his visit to the Middle East last week. I found it interesting and insightful and I hope it does the same for you.

I am going to be shameless here. When I was at the Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus I commissioned my friend, Father Steven Hawkes-Teeples, SJ, professor Theology at the Oriental Institute in Rome to write a booklet on basics of Eastern Christianity. The old booklet just didn't serve the needs of our readers and something more up-to-date was needed, especially since Catholic Church has more than one expression of herself. The booklet, The Eastern Christians and Their Churches, is worth a thorough read.
Reading my hometown newspaper, The New Haven Register, the editors ran a story about Connecticut's 15th new Episcopal bishop, the Right Reverend Ian T. Douglas regarding his forthcoming ordination. I am sure for many the presence of Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be a big "plus." But there are aspects of the new bishop's opportunistic thinking that raises concerns. 

Bishop-elect Douglas is being touted as a "ground breaker" as the episcopal bishop of Connecticut because he's known on the international scene, and that he's never served as a priest in the diocese prior this moment. Besides Douglas' statement that he's not afraid to call in favors from around world, what got my attention, is his misleading Protestant Episcopal reasoning for selecting the principle consecrating bishop (Katharine Schori) and her two of the co-consecrating bishops:  "they are diverse in race, sex and theology, and so represent 'the catholicity of the church.'"

The catholicity of the Church, Episcopal or otherwise, is not demonstrated by race, sex and theology. These elements are trendy and do not constitute the fundamental character of ordination and episcopal service to a (local) Church. Race, sex and theological diversity are elements of a multicultural attitude of the Church and they don't stand the test of time not to mention patronizing. Sacred Scripture, Truth and Tradition are divinely revealed and orient our theological and liturgical praxis. At last I knew, consecrating bishops are too be chosen for their orthodox faith and for nothing else. Christ did not build his church on multicultural clap-trap. Sadly, Douglas's understanding of the episcopacy is like his rolodex: it may be diverse but it lacks the quality of substance and orthodox ecclesiology: where is the traditional communion ecclesiology that is supposed to exist? Oh, wait, true communion ecclesiology has vanished with the Episcopal Church! This is just one reason that is contributing to the demise of the Anglican Communion in America and abroad.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Ecumenism category from April 2010.

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