By Vatican News
The 25th anniversary of the publication of Ut unum sint “should serve as a reminder that the way of ecumenism is the way of the Church, and that all Catholics are called to espouse a strong commitment to building Christian unity”, says Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, USA.
In a statement issued on Monday, the chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs recalled St John Paul II’s “tireless” efforts “to build ecumenical relationships” – a work that has been carried on by his successors.
“We rejoice that Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have continued to advance this singular mission between the Catholic Church and other Christian communities”, Bishop Bambera writes. “We celebrate numerous theological convergences that have been discovered in ecumenical dialogues over the course of the past twenty-five years as we seek to grow closer together”.
Bishop Bambera notes that “in a time of pandemic, people seek refuge and unity in their faith community”. He expresses the hopes that the anniversary of Ut unum sint might “serve as a unique pastoral opportunity to build bridges by continuing to reach out with love to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ”.
The steps forward made in ecumenical dialogue in recent decades “to heal the wounds of centuries and millennia” were recalled by Pope Francis in a Letter sent on 24 May to Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. In his message, the Pope expressed gratitude for the progress already made towards Christian unity, while admitting that he shared “the healthy impatience of those who sometimes think that we can and should do more”. At the same time, he recalled that “unity is not chiefly the result of our activity, but a gift of the Holy Spirit”.