Tag Archives: ecumenism

Eleuterio Fortino, RIP: the soul and motor of the Christianity Council at the Vatican

Eleuterio Fortino.jpgOn 22 September 2010, a giant in the world of
ecumenism and Eastern Christianity died after living with illness. No one can
doubt the sentiment expressed by the Pope saying that Monsignor Fortino had a “generous
commitment with intelligence and passion at the service of unity.” The Pope
last saw Monsignor Fortino on June 28 with the delegation of the Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew I. A telegram was sent through his secretary of state,
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, honoring the life of the undersecretary (third in
charge) of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who focused
particularly on relations with the Orthodox Churches.

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Fr Robert Taft advocates ecumenical scholarship & theology as a new approach to restore communion among the churches of East and West

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should own up to their
past misdeeds and work to restore communion, according to Archimandrite Robert F.
Taft, SJ.

Fr. Taft, a Jesuit priest of the New England Province and professor emeritus of the history of Byzantine Liturgy at the Pontifical
Oriental Institute in Rome, said that the rift between the churches was
sustained primarily by offensive actions–not theological differences.
He delivered “Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations
Today,” on June 28 at Fordham University.

“The main problem that we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical
dialogue is not doctrine but behavior,” Fr. Taft said. “The issue is
not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and
live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way. The problem is
that we do not know how to act.”

pointed to Catholic “uniatism”–aggression against another church–as a
major problem blocking fruitful dialogue between the religions. He
added that although the Orthodox faith has been victimized, it also
refuses to admit its own misdeeds.

Fr. Taft advocated a system of “ecumenical scholarship and theology”–a
new way to study Christian tradition that seeks to reconcile and unite,
rather than to confute and dominate. To accomplish this, the Catholic
and Orthodox churches must recognize one another as historic apostolic
sister churches, he said.

point of this new ecumenical theology is not that Catholics and
Orthodox never disagree. “What it does mean, is that at the official
level, disagreements can be discussed truthfully and courteously,
without invective, rudeness, and slander,” Fr. Taft said. [Fordham

Theme for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011 announced

Wk of prayer for Christian Unity 2011.jpgEach year the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has a theme and the theme for the 2011 observance of the Week of Prayer is One in the Apostles’ Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and Prayer.

The 2011 theme was announced by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches. The Christians in Jerusalem are the major consultants for the 2011 observance. The theme’s “inspiration” comes from Acts 2:42.
For more information on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011 and other resources, visit the website.

NT Wright to retire

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 Maria Gabriella Sagheddu: Apostle for Spiritual Ecumenism

Thumbnail image for Bl Maria Gabriella Sagheddu.jpgLord 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).

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]yahoo.com.
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