That All May Be One!

 — Sept. 16, 199516 sept. 1995

For those who wish to know the mind of the Pope on contemporary issues such as whether a non-Catholic can receive communion in a Catholic church, or a Catholic in a non-Catholic church, the answer is now available.  Many Catholics, living next door to their non-Catholic friends, co-workers, and relatives, ask themselves these kind of questions all the time.  This past summer, the Pope issued his twelfth encyclical, entitled That All May Be One (Ut Unum Sint), his first on ecumenism.  His great concern is that we not fall into a rigid legalism in which such questions have only one right answer.  Instead we must approach our relationships with people of other churches with an understanding of the role of Christian unity within the broad spectrum of Catholic teaching.

Ecumenism is not an “appendix” added to traditional church activity, but “an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does,” Pope John Paul II writes in his latest encyclical.  A papal encyclical is a letter written by the Pope which is addressed to the whole church.  Encyclicals generally encourage a greater concern for the subject of the letter, and frequently present a significant new perspective on the subject as well.  The church’s teachings on birth control, abortion, and euthanasia were recently examined by the Pope in his encyclical The Splendour of Truth (Veritatis Splendor).

The latest encyclical, That All May Be One, examines the papacy’s role as “visible sign and guarantor” of unity, while also acknowledging that the Pope “constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections.”  The Pope calls for increased participation of lay people in the work of Christian unity.  In particular, the Pope advises parishes and bible study groups to begin regular prayer for the churches of the community, and where possible to do this together with these other churches.  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 22 to 28, 1996) is a prime example which the Pope recommends.  Every Pope since Leo XIII in 1896 has repeated this support for the Week of Prayer.

The Saskatoon Centre for Ecumenism is offering to provide free workshops on the encyclical and on other Vatican pronouncements on the ecumenical movement.  Anyone within the diocese who would like to participate in such a workshop should contact their parish.  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is coordinated in Saskatoon by the Centre for Ecumenism, and prayer materials will be available later in the fall.

Posted: Sept. 16, 1995 • Permanent link:
Categories: ResourcesIn this article: Christian unity, ecumenism, encyclicals, John Paul II
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Catégorie : ResourcesDans cet article : Christian unity, ecumenism, encyclicals, John Paul II

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