4200 ECUMENICAL GUIDELINES FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SAN FRANCISCO #
4210 INTRODUCTION #
In 1962, the Second Vatican Council was called both to renew the Roman Catholic Church and to seek ways to restore unity among the Christian Churches. In declaring these objectives, relationships between the Roman Catholic Church and other faith communities have been irreversibly changed. As a result, new and exciting ecumenical initiatives are being made daily.
To maintain the momentum of these initiatives, the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity urges that they “be adapted to local needs.” However, needs differ from region to region, and whenever adaptation is required, it must always remain “in harmony with the bonds of Catholic Communion.”‘
The Secretariat points out that, although “the quest for a structural local unity is a challenge,” at the same time, the need “for a qualitative unity in the confession of a sound and complete faith” is equally a challenge. This means that “ecumenical initiatives should be true expressions of the life of the local Church, and not simply the work of individuals.” In other words, all such initiatives should have the guidance of the bishop and his diocesan Ecumenical Commission. It is important, then, that each diocesan Ecumenical Commission consider all initiatives “with discernment and sympathy, and where appropriate offer encouragement and support.”.4
Ecumenism, according to the Secretariat, is not only “a movement of the Spirit,” but it is also “an integral part of the renewal of the Church.”3 This means that the promotion of ecumenism should be the constant concern of the whole Church, both for faithful and clergy alike, who are urged by the Second Vatican Council not only to “esteem the truly Christian endowments found in other faith communities,” but also to learn “their history, their spiritual and liturgical life, their religious psychology and cultural background.”4
For Catholics to move in this direction, they should realize that a change in attitude is necessary. This change must involve an interior conversion because there can be no ecumenism without interior conversion. Indeed, the Council has admitted that certain deficiencies in moral conduct, in Church discipline and even in the formulation,- of Church teaching (to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself) have been and continue to be problems. Wherever such problems do exist, they “should be set right at the opportune moment and in the proper way.”5 For this reason, the Council teaches that “the soul of the whole ecumenical movement” consists in a change of heart, holiness of life and public and private prayer for the unity of Christians. All three of these facets in the work for Christian unity merit the name “spiritual ecumenism.”6
The information presented in these Ecumenical Guidelines becomes operative when spiritual ecumenism is taken seriously. To keep this information up to date, material from the new Code of Canon Law (November, 1983) has been included. For example, the section on sacramental worship, in particular, contains new canonical directives which replace earlier Catholic documents concerning these matters.
Guidelines for interreligious affairs (non-Christians) will be provided at a later time.
4220 GENERAL PRINCIPLES #
The following theological considerations represent major principles upon which Archdiocesan ecumenical policies are based and out of which ecumenical activity in the Archdiocese flows:
The recognition that all Christians already possess a fundamental unity by their faith in the mystery of Christ and their incorporation into Him through Baptism.
The awareness that within the Church unity in essentials can be preserved alongside a proper freedom in the various forms of spiritual life and discipline, in the variety of liturgical rites and even in the theological elaborations of revealed truth.?
The conviction that doctrinal agreement on the core truths of Christianity is prior and essential to any structural union. This means that dialogue between the Churches is one of the major commitments of the Archdiocese in promoting the ecumenical movement.
The recovery of emphasis upon the local Church where both the clergy and the laity at the grass roots level are asked to consider the urgency for ecumenical understanding and commitment.
The term “ecumenical movement” refers strictly to the work of healing the divisions caused among the Christian Ecclesial Communities.
4230 ECUMENICAL ACTIVITIES #
4231 Some Practical Initiatives #
Clergy, and in a special way, pastors in the Archdiocese are principally responsible for fostering prayer for Christian unity. Ecumenical activities in parishes, schools and other institutions, agencies/departments of the Archdiocese should be reported to the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs which seeks to know about these activities and to facilitate them if necessary.
When considering covenanting or affiliating their parishes with non-Catholic churches or federations, pastors should first consult with the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Prayers for Christian Unity should be included frequently in the Mass and in other prayer services such as Bible services, Lenten devotions, novenas, etc. The Prayer of the Faithful during the Mass is an excellent opportunity to offer prayer for unity among Christians.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) is an important time to promote public prayer for Christian Unity in every parish and Archdiocesan related institution. Other joint prayer services with local Christian churches are especially encouraged, such as during the seasons of Advent and Lent; and on the holy days of Good Friday and Easter Sunday when all Christians share the sorrows and joys of our Savior Jesus Christ; the days from Ascension to Pentecost, which commemorate the community at Jerusalem waiting and praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit to confirm their unity and their universal mission;9 to offer public intercession to our Father in heaven, like Thanksgiving Day; annual ecumenical celebrations, like World Day of Prayer (first Friday of March), Fellowship Day (first Friday of May), World Community Day (first Friday of November).
Joint ecumenical prayer services can be held in Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox churches as well as in any suitable, dignified location. The format for joint ecumenical prayer services in respect to hymns, prayers and garb should be discussed beforehand by the ‘participants.10 All joint ecumenical services occurring within the Archdiocese should be clearly announced as such, and they ought to be so recognized by all th