New Evangelization and Ecumenism | Msgr. Daniel S. Hamilton | HPR
Ecumenism is the effort to re-compose unity among divided Christians. The “new” evangelization is the effort of the Catholic Church to reach out in new and effective ways, first to its own immense membership…
Ecumenism – or the ecumenical movement – is the effort involving most of the Christian Church communities in the world today to build greater unity with one another and ultimately to achieve the unity of all Christians in one Church. This organized activity is just about a century old, usually dating back from the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910. 1Respecting its final goal, the movement has been to date only minimally successful, although it has brought about greater understanding, cooperation and convergence—meaning a moving toward one another, doctrinally—among the world’s major Christian Church communions.
The position of the Catholic Church—by which phrase we mean the full communion of all the Eastern and Western Churches with the Bishop of Rome, whom we acknowledge as the Successor of St. Peter, with a unique Primacy in the Church’s ministry—is a well-known position within this general movement. We are not seeking to reconstitute a divided church, but to promote and achieve the full communion of all the other Church communions with the one Catholic Church of Christ.
Ecumenism and the new evangelization: how are they related? Ecumenism is the effort to re-compose unity among divided Christians. The “new” evangelization is the effort of the Catholic Church to reach out in new and effective ways first to its own immense membership, some or many of whom now are only nominal Catholics not really accepting and seeking daily to live by the integral teaching of the Gospels. In introducing the idea of the “new evangelization,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI invited us to re-propose the Gospel to one another and to those lapsed so that a living faith may once again characterize the Church world-wide. Then beyond our Church borders and even overlapping them are the great de-Christianized masses of the mainly Western world, other already Christian Church communions and the still other huge non-Christian world religions. Last October, the World Synod of Bishops discussed goals in this evangelizing effort, of which we have been already given a glimpse and preparation in the encyclical Porta Fidei (Door of Faith), 2 issued by Pope Benedict for the special Year of Faith, which began October 11, 2012 and is now soon going to come to a close.