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Principles for being Catholic and Ecumenical
posted on 01 January 1900
Catholic Diocese of Westminster
Diocese of Westminster

The Catholic principles which should direct our spiritual sharing and our ecumenical encounter and exchange are explored in The Search For Christian Unity 1V and given thus in the Directory on Ecumenism 102-106.

1.    In spite of the serious difficulties which prevent full ecclesial communion, it is clear that all those who by baptism are incorporated in Christ share many elements of the Christian life. There thus exists a real, even if imperfect communion among Christians which can be expressed in prayer and liturgical worship.

2.    According to the Catholic Faith, the Catholic Church has been endowed with the whole of revealed truth and all the means of salvation as a gift which cannot be lost. Nevertheless, among the elements and gifts which belong to the Catholic Church (e.g. the written Word of God, the life of grace, faith, hope and charity, etc.) many exist outside its visible limits. The churches and ecclesial communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church have by no means been deprived of significance and value in the mystery of salvation, for the Spirit of God has not refrained from using them as means of salvation. In ways that vary according to the condition of each church and ecclesial community, their celebrations are able to nourish the life of grace in their members who participate in them and provide access to the communion of salvation.

3.    The sharing of spiritual activities and resources, therefore, must reflect this double fact:

  • The real communion in the life of the Spirit which already exists among Christians and is expressed in their prayer and liturgical worship
  • The incomplete character of this communion because of differences of faith and understanding which are incompatible with an unrestricted mutual sharing of spiritual endowments.

4.    Fidelity to this complex reality makes it necessary to establish norms for spiritual sharing which take into account the diverse ecclesial situations of the churches and ecclesial communities involved, so that as Christians esteem and rejoice in the spiritual riches they have in common, they are also made more aware of the necessity of overcoming the separations which still exist.

Note: The Ten Principles of Ecumenism, by Cardinal Avery Dulles SJ

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