Category Archives: Ecumenism

What is Ecumenism?

Restoring unity among all Christians: Unity in Diversity, Diversity in Unity

by Fr. John J. Keane, SA

Ecumenism refers to “the restoration of unity among all
Christians.” It comes from the Greek word oikoumene meaning the whole inhabited earth and is inspired by
Jesus’ prayer to his father, “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). Unity is
seen as a gift from God that we already have, but that we must realize and
accept. Christians have been encouraging common prayer, often referred to as
spiritual ecumenism, since the 17th Century as a means to achieve unity. The
Second Vatican Council’s
Decree on Ecumenism called “prayer the soul of the ecumenical movement”
and called the “reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and
only Church of Christ” a “holy objective.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church encourages ecumenism and urges dialogue among
theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and
communities and collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to
mankind as expressions of Christian unity (820-822).

In Working for Unity,
Fr. Emmanuel Sullivan, SA and his co-author Dennis Rudd write, “It cannot be
said too often that the quest for unity does not imply a need, nor even a
desire, for uniformity. Diversity is a mark of the Holy Spirit…and God, who is
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the very model of unity in diversity, diversity
in unity.”

Blessed Maria Gabriella dell’Unità (Sagghedù)

…that they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:21).

In simplicity of heart I gladly offer everything, O Lord.
The Lord put me on this path, he will remember to sustain me in battle.
To His mercy I entrust my frailty.
I saw in front of me a big cross…,

I thought that my sacrifice was nothing in comparison to His.
I offered myself entirely and I do not withdraw the given word.
God’s will whatever it may be, this is my joy, my happiness, my peace.
I will never be able to thank enough.
I cannot say but these words:” My God, your Glory.”

Blessed Maria Gabriella

Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagghedu.jpgPraying for unity is not a matter reserved only to those who actually experience the lack of unity among Christians. In the deep personal dialogue which each of us must carry on with the Lord in prayer, concern for unity cannot be absent. Only in this way, in fact, will that concern fully become part of the reality of our life and of commitments we have taken on in the Church. It was in order to reaffirm this duty that I set before the faithful of the Catholic Church a model which I consider exemplary, the model of a Trappistine Sister, Blessed Maria Gabriella of Unity, whom I beatified on 25 January 1983. Sister Maria Gabriella, called by her vocation to be apart from the world, devoted her life to meditation and prayer centered on Chapter 17 of St. John’s Gospel and offered her life for Christian Unity. This is truly the cornerstone of all prayer: the total and unconditional offering of one’s life to the Father; through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The example of Sister Mara Gabriella is instructive; it helps us to understand that there are no special times, situations, or places of prayer for unity. Christ’s prayer to the Father is offered as a model for everyone, always and everywhere.

(Pope John Paul II, Ut unum sint, 1995, 27)

Read more of the blessed’s life here and here.

Jesus overcomes his racism, according to the Anglicans in Canada

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) published their 2009 Lenten reflection that portrays Jesus as a racist who reformed himself after being challenged by the Canaanite woman (see St. Matthew’s Gospel). The ACoC was apparently hijacked by the politically correct establishment who teaches in this “reflection” Jesus is a sinner. Well, this is a basic heresy. Here’s the key point of the reflection:


“… a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ ” – Matthew 14:22-27

This not a story for people who need to think that Jesus always had it together, because it looks like we’ve caught him being mean to a lady because of her ethnicity. At first, he ignores her cries. Then he refuses to help her and compares her people to dogs. 


But she challenges his prejudice. And he listens to her challenge and grows in response to it. He ends up healing her daughter. What we may have here is an important moment of self-discovery in Jesus’ life, an enlargement of what it will mean to be who he was. Maybe we are seeing Jesus understand his universality for the first time.


Interesting. The authors of this reflection are the same people who would insist that Jesus’ way is true only for us but may be not for everyone. Perhaps the Anglicans of Canada ought to read Dominus Iesus.  This reminds me of the Office of Black Catholics in the Chicago archdiocese accusing the white priests of racism because they were white. Here it seems that the round heads want to re-educate their ecclesial community to think of the divine nature of Jesus in a way that corresponds to the liberal North American sensibilities. How typical!

Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture, at Fordham Univ

Abp Demetrios.jpgThe President of Fordham University, Fr. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. announced Tuesday Feb. 17, a Jaharis Family Foundation gift establishing the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture as part of the Orthodox Christian Studies Program of this renowned Roman-Catholic Jesuit University.


The announcement came at the conclusion of the Sixth Annual Orthodoxy in America Lecture given this year by Fr. Stanley Harakas, ThD, who is the Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology Emeritus at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Fr. Harakas’ topic “The Future of Orthodox Christianity in America: A Normative Approach” captivated his diverse audience of academics, clergymen, students and laymen. He outlined the threats and pitfalls but also the opportunities of the social and cultural reality in America and suggested ways of what we need to do and ought to do, as Orthodox.


Following the lecture President McShane announced the establishment of the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture through a generous donation of two million dollars by the Jaharis Family Foundation. Fr. McShane welcomed Michael and Mary Jaharis as he expressed his great joy and gratitude. He further said that naming the chair after Archbishop Demetrios is a most deserving honor and that the University was “thrilled that his name (the Archbishop’s) and the name of the Jaharis family will forever be associated with Fordham.”


Anglo-Catholics flooding the Church of Rome?

Some days ago I mentioned here the possibility of a personal prelature for the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). I also mentioned that there could be a possibility of a personal prelature for the SSPX crowd and that this might come to pass before the TAC gets their issues worked out. It still may happen but who really knows. Last week an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was decrying the idea as one put forth by bloggers and overstepping journalists. Well, this could be the case. But I doubt it. It seems that a higher authority is thinking about a reasonable theological/ecclesiological solution. So, what does one do with the news reported by The Catholic Herald (of Britain) on February 6th stating that the pope himself is the person behind personal prelature notion for the TAC?

It is doubtful that you’ll see scores upon scores upon scores of Anglo-Catholics becoming Roman Catholic through a set up like a prelature devoted to matters Anglican. You’ll see some, but how many? Your guess. Say a prayer to the Virgin of Walsingham and ask for Cardinal Newman’s intercession.

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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