‘Climate of mutual trust’ emerging: Catholic-United Church Dialogue

 — May 15, 198215 mai 1982

MONTREAL – “Many people today think the ecumenical movement is losing momentum; but, in fact, many marvelous things are taking place,” says Father Irenée Beaubien, SJ, director of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism here. He cited the example of the fruitful dialogue which has been going on for the past seven years between representatives of the Catholic and United Churches.

Special report

Father Beaubien and Rev. Robert Smith, president of the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada, are co-chairmen of this Catholic-United dialogue. A special report on the group’s activities was recently published by the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.

“We still have a long way to go,” Father Beaubien said, “but there is a joy in discovering that, as Christians, we have much more in common than we thought.”


The report points out there are many common convergences in the two Churches on Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as well as the importance of Scriptures. “What unites us is more profound than what divides us,” the report said.

However, there are also serious differences remaining between the two Churches. These include such issues as the ordained ministry and the papacy and such moral issues as birth control.

Father Beaubien told The Register that the meetings held between Catholic and United Church representatives gave everyone an opportunity to understand precisely what the other believes.

In this process1 misconceptions and prejudices were buried and there emerged a climate of mutual trust and [text missing]

“In this climate it is possible to tackle any problem,” said Father of this dialogue since the beginning. “It is a joy to realize that we are all anxious to be good Christians.”

One example of the growth in mutual understanding was the discussion on spirituality.


“When Catholics discuss spirituality,” Father Beaubien said, “we think of such spiritual leaders as St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Ignatius of Loyola and others, who have a different spiritual emphasis. We accept a wide variety of spirituality in our Church… but to them (United Church representatives) it was a discovery to hear this. This shows that within the one Church there is room for spiritual variety.”

On the other hand, the Catholic representatives were surprised at the United Church’s boldness and openness in tackling certain problems.

Father Beaubien cited the example of the United Church’s working paper on sexuality in which many participants were involved.

The Catholic-United dialogue group is now in the process of determining possible new directions for the future.

Father Beaubien is suggesting that four subcommittees be formed to move forward the dialogue built on the accomplishments of the past.

He suggested subcommittees be set up to study doctrinal issues in depth, promote joint action for social justice, encourage an ecumenical spirit at all levels and initiate programs to re-evangelize Christians in this post-Christian era.

“We should never get accustomed to division between us,” Father Beaubien said. “This is not Christian … we have to find the means to work more closely together.”

Posted: May 15, 1982 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=13704
Categories: Catholic RegisterIn this article: Catholic, dialogue, United Church of Canada
Transmis : 15 mai 1982 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=13704
Catégorie : Catholic RegisterDans cet article : Catholic, dialogue, United Church of Canada

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