Pope on Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Pope Underlines Importance of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

That’s nice. But the reality is the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” means nothing for Catholics in North America. I ministered in three dioceses as a lay Catholic: Ogdensburg, Los Angeles, Galveston-Houston. In none of them was the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity a significant observance. In none of the churches for which I worked, or which I attended while working for the archdiocese, was there ever an observance.

Part of the problem is that churches and dioceses put more emphasis on MLK and anti-abortion observances in the same time period.

But Catholics really aren’t into ecumenism. Theologically, ecumenism can only mean for Catholics a return of Protestants to the Catholic Church. In the meantime, there may be some cooperation with Protestant social organizations, and a rare joint prayer service, but that’s all.

2 thoughts on “Pope on Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

  1. Just to speak from my experience…

    This weekend I’m going on retreat to a Catholic religious House which will include several Protestant guests. This time last year my parish participated in ecumenical prayer at the nearby United Church, my Catholic theology professor (also presiding over a council for ecumenical relations) organizes a monthly discussion group with several Protestant Christians among the most prominent participants (set at the school’s Lutheran seminary).

    Maybe it’s just my region, but since my return to Catholicism ecumenical questions have been among those at the forefront.

    • I think it significant that it is a religious order sponsoring the retreat. But you are right, each diocese does things differently. Some universities pay more attention to ecumenical things than others.

      There’s an ecumenical officer and, on paper, an ecumenical commission for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, too. But in my ten years of Houston the archdiocese went from having an ecumenical officer who did much and promoted much on her own to having one who was kept on a tight leash by the powers that be. The bishops of Houston prefer work with social agencies, don’t mind the rare big event (1999 National Workshop on Jewish-Christian Relations, a prayer service with Lutherans to commemorate the 1999 Joint Declaration, an ecumenical prayer service marking the year 2000), but really don’t want to get involved in matters of importance (as when the bishop turned a deaf ear to Jewish fears and concerns over “The Passion”).

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