Just a few days ago, it caught my attention that a Vatican official, Cardinal Walter Kasper asked dialogue partners if an ecumenical catechism might be another step at defining what unites us rather than what divides us. Cardinal Kasper is the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This ‘outreach’ was made by one of the long-term members of the dialogue between Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches. Not too long ago, we heard of the opening of the door to allow Anglicans who wished union with the Church of Rome to enter into full membership with the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
We Catholics are not informed enough. There are efforts taking place and the Church is making strides at finding more and more ways partner with others… to pray and to talk and explore topics related to unity. Did you know that some Protestant churches use the same Sunday lectionary that we Catholics use? That means that some Protestants are reading the same Scripture readings that we do at Mass each weekend. Baby steps? Perhaps — but unthinkable 50 years ago.
I talked with a learned professor who is disappointed at recent ecumenical activities in the Church. I don’t know and can’t explore what his issues are. But Cardinal Kasper says that an ecumenism of basics that identifies, reinforces and deepens the common foundation of faith in Christ is needed. Our podcast guest, Fr. Massa says that such efforts — all efforts at unity are a profound response to the prayer of Christ to His Father — that “they may be one, Father as You and I are one.”
I heard a funny line on a podcast. It shouldn’t be aimed at any one faith — but a Baptist mother reportedly told her son that Baptists multiply by dividing. Her son is now a Catholic priest and he told that story. There are now 25,000 Christian ‘churches.’ And what is interesting is that many of them call themselves faithful to Scripture — Sola Scriptura — living solely by the inerrant Word of God. How can they live with these divisions when Jesus said we are to be one? Why then schism among churches?
Join us in prayer for unity among families of mixed faiths. Join us in prayer for unity in our Catholic faith and churches. Join in prayer for unity among the 25,000 churches which use the word Christ as part of proclaiming themselves Christian. Join with someone of another faith — not to debate what our faiths teach that might be factors in division. Let us find someone who would agree to take a long walk with us and share what it’s like to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Share from your heart what it’s like to receive the Eucharist which we believe to be the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Jesus who prayed that we all can be one.
In closing — Cardinal Avery Dulles wrote that in our ecumenical contacts we should assume that all Christian communities have something valuable to give and that God may wish to say something to us… IMPORTANT …. God may wish to say something to us through them. We need to meet with people of other faith. We need to listen to them. We need to hear them. We ought to pray that they will approach our time together in the same manner.
Vitamin U: Unity Show Notes
Our special thanks to our guest for this episode of Catholic Vitamins:
Fr. James Massa, Ph.D. Executive Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (SEIA) for the U. S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS.
The SEIA email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reverend Massa can be reached at email@example.com
Also mentioned during the podcast was:
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Their website is at:
The President of that Pontifical Council is Cardinal Walter Kasper and he can be reached through the Vatican website.