All posts tagged: ecumenism

Petrine Primacy: Who Can Speak on Behalf of the Orthodox Church?

Concerning the question of whether the Orthodox Church needs a primus, and especially at the universal level, I will appeal to a personal experience. In 2005, I was given permission to attend the deliberations of the International Joint Commission on the Theological Dialogue between the two churches, which convened, after a hiatus, in Belgrade. I remember how that experience led me to the paradoxical realization that the Orthodox churches cannot unite with Rome as long as they are not united with Rome. What I mean by this paradox is that the very absence of the authority that a primus would have exercised at the pan-Orthodox level hinders the efforts of remedying this institutional lacuna. In other words, the fact that the Orthodox churches today refuse to recognize a Rome-like primacy among themselves becomes the major problem in their dialogue with Rome. Episcopal Equality For one of the fundamental presuppositions of any dialogue, especially a theological dialogue, is consistency. The demand for consistency is related, in my opinion, to the question of authority. Who can speak …

Christians Dare Not Shirk the Work of Ecumenism

Hope, of course, is a theological virtue—a gracious gift of God. It is not the same as optimism. This is a useful distinction, and goad, for many aspects of the Christian life. We are not our own but belong to the Lord Jesus. Accordingly, we might say that our future is not our business: it is given over to God. More than that, we should expect to be led, at least in part, where we do not want to go (John 21:18). Jesus said these words to Peter as a prophecy of his martyrdom, but they equally apply to every interesting aspect of our Christian lives, just insofar as God uses our circumstances to shape and mold us into the persons he would have us become—in marriage and within families, in close friendships, as we engage political and societal questions, as we combat sin within and without, and as we both gratefully and wearily take up our work. My teacher Brevard Childs taught us in our study of Scripture to pray that the Holy Spirit …

What Can Catholicism Still Draw from the Wells of Ecumenism?

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began as the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity in 1908, eight days of prayer stretching from January 18 (Feast of the Confession of St Peter in some Anglican and Lutheran Churches) to January 25 (Feast of the Conversion of St Paul). Like all things in time, it has gone through many changes. It is fitting that the feast began with confession and conversion, because what I most hope for Catholics from the modern ecumenical movement is called confessional conversion. I want us to become more Catholic and more catholic. Confessional conversion is an ecumenical process that honors the distinctive gifts of each traditional strand of Christianity while working towards one visible church of Christ, diverse and one, like the Trinity. The Groupe des Dombes, an ecumenical movement that has been praying together for 80 years, has described this conversion in For the Conversion of the Churches. Jesus Christ is always calling to his people, and this call is realized at three inseparable levels: personal conversion, ecclesial conversion, and confessional conversion. Personal Conversion I didn’t grow up …

The Virgin of Guadalupe and the Season of Advent

For several Christian people throughout the world, especially Mexican and Mexican-American Christians, December 12, of course, is the celebration of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. The feast commemorates her December 9–12, 1531 appearances to St. Juan Diego, the Náhuatl-Aztec who had recently converted to Christianity, whose own tilma or cloak bore—and continues to bear—the miraculous imprint of her image from when “the desert rejoiced and blossomed” (Is 35:1) at Mt. Tepeyac with Castillian roses blooming in December: the image of the Brown Virgin (La Morenita), the indigenous mestiza clothed with the sun and wearing the cinta, the band of pregnancy, standing on the moon, head bowed and hands folded in prayer, and born aloft by an angel of the Lord. I would like to suggest that the Virgin of Guadalupe belongs in a particular way to our Advent preparations because, like Mary herself in her great New Testament hymn of God’s praise, the Magnificat, she proclaims to us the Gospel, the Good News of our salvation in Christ, the Good News of God who scatters the proud, exalts the lowly, …

Honoring the Life of Elie Wiesel: Why Catholics Must Help Humanity to Not Forget the Shoah

On Saturday, July 2, 2016, the world lost Elie Wiesel at the age of 87. Wiesel, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp as a teenager, lost many of his family members during the Holocaust, in which over 6,000,000 Jews and other marginalized members of society were mercilessly annihilated by the Nazi German regime. Wiesel most famously chronicled his plight in his now-classic book Night, originally published in French as La Nuit. Wiesel’s multiple contributions to humanity can hardly be overstated or overestimated, the most prominent of which is easily his commitment to keeping alive the memory of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust (often perhaps more appropriately designated as the “Shoah”), and thus endeavoring to underscore the greater appreciation that we must all have for others’ inherent human dignity and its accompanying rights. Having survived the ravages of oppression himself, during his life, Wiesel spoke out against senseless violence, religious intolerance, racism (including the former infamous practice of apartheid in South Africa), and of course, genocide. In fact, in 2007, Wiesel openly criticized …