On 25 March 1993 His Holiness Pope John Paul II approved the revised Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, confirmed it by his authority and ordered that it be published.

One of the Directory's main concerns is ecumenical formation in seminaries and theological faculties. So it was decided that the 1995 Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity should study and make more explicit the principles and recommendations laid down in the Directory. To prepare for the Plenary's discussion a consultation of specialists who teach various disciplines in seminaries and theological faculties led to the drafting of two documents: one concerned with providing an ecumenical dimension to the formation of those engaged in pastoral work, the other outlining the contents of a specialised course in ecumenism.

The 1995 Plenary Meeting was largely devoted to discussion of these proposals and suggestions for their amendment. The bishops particularly recommended that a single text should be produced integrating the contents of the two draft texts. This reworking was carried out during the Plenary Meeting and at its conclusion the substance of the present text was examined and approved. It was left to the Pontifical Council staff to carry out the remaining work of making it ready for publication. The Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and Catholic Education have been involved in the preparation of this document.

At the special Audience which concluded the Plenary Meeting, the Holy Father underscored the significance of the work which led to this study text:

"You have specifically studied the problem of ecumenical formation in seminaries and theological faculties, which is one of the Directory's main concerns. You have wished to do so in a modern, practical way based on the requirements of the educational sciences, which cannot be limited to a mere course of information on the ecumenical movement. I hope that the practical directives you have mentioned will allow the ecumenical dimension to become an integral part of teaching the different disciplines, by using the interdisciplinary method and through inter-denominational co-operation, provided for by the Ecumenical Directory".

The Holy Father added that such formation "is an essential challenge for the development of ecumenical research and for its promotion in formation institutes and pastoral life".

The following text is therefore a Study Document which gathers together what is in the Ecumenical Directory and makes it more explicit. It is addressed to all who have responsibility for theological and pastoral formation to help them ensure that those who in the future will be engaged in pastoral work, and also those who will be theology professors, receive adequate ecumenical formation. In this way they will better be able to respond to what is required by the life of the Church in our day.

Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy

Pierre Duprey
Titular Bishop of Thibar



[1] The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism insists that an ecumenical dimension is to be fully present in all the different settings and means through which formation takes place.(1), Chapter III.] The present document from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is addressed to each Bishop, to the Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches and the Episcopal Conferences, and also to those with particular responsibility for formation for pastoral ministry. Its purpose is to assist them to carry out this responsibility at the local, national and regional levels (2) in conformity with the general principles provided in the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio (1964), the Directory (1993), and the Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint (1995). The guidelines it contains emphasise the necessity of ecumenical formation for all Christ's faithful. They especially concentrate on what is needed for the thorough ecumenical formation of those who are preparing to engage in pastoral work, whether as ordained ministers or not, and particularly on recommendations for ensuring that their theological studies have the ecumenical dimension required. This document intends to make more explicit what is requested in theDirectory, particularly in Chapter III, and needs to be read together with the passages referred to by the footnotes.

[2] "Concern for restoring unity pertains to the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone, according to the potential of each, whether it be exercised in daily living or in theological and historical studies".(3) The Second Vatican Council teaches that the restoration of full visible communion among all Christians is the will of Christ and essential to the life of the Catholic Church. It is the task of all, of lay people as well as ordained: "all the faithful are called upon to make a personal commitment towards promoting increasing communion with other Christians".(4) "The commitment to ecumenism [is] a duty of the Christian conscience enlightened by faith and guided by love".(5) This requires from everyone interior conversion and participation in renewal in the Church. Consequently, formation in ecumenism is crucial in order to enable each person to be prepared to make his or her own contribution to the work of unity. The "objective of ecumenical formation is that all Christians be animated by the ecumenical spirit, whatever their particular mission and task in the world and society".(6) So there has necessarily to be a renewal of attitudes and flexibility of method which will help form this ecumenical spirit.

A. Ecumenical Formation is Necessary for All the Faithful

[3] Since Christian formation is necessary at every level and stage of the Christian life, reflection is needed on how to ensure the ecumenical dimension is present in these different kinds of formation. Consequently it is vital that those with a central role in animating such formation — notably the clergy, members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, catechists and others formally involved in religious education, as well as leaders in new movements and ecclesial communities — should have had a thorough ecumenical formation themselves.

[4] The Directory includes among the principal means of formation: hearing and studying the Word of God, preaching, catechesis, liturgy and the spiritual life. Each of these will be incomplete unless it also contributes to forming an ecumenical spirit. Indications are given of what this might involve.(7)

[5] Similarly, consideration has to be given to what will be required in the different settings mentioned by the Directory in which formation actually takes place, notably the family, the parish, the school, and various movements, associations and groups.(8) For example it recommends that religious education in schools of every kind and grade should have an ecumenical dimension, and aim to educate the hearts and minds of young people in the necessary human and religious dispositions that will favour the search for Christian unity.(9)

B. The Ecumenical Formation of Theological Students, Seminarians and Future Pastoral Workers

[6] The following suggestions are primarily intended to encourage more thorough ecumenical formation during the seminary or theological education of candidates for ordained ministry and theological students. However, the Directory makes clear that these principles should be appropriately adapted for the formation of others engaged in pastoral work.(10)

[7] "Ecumenical relations are a complex and delicate reality which require study and theological dialogue, fraternal relations and contact, prayer and practical co-operation. We are called to work in all fields. Being limited to one or another of them while neglecting the others can never produce results. This global view of ecumenical activity must always be kept in mind when we present or explain our involvement".(11) It is useful, therefore, to point out some important general considerations concerning the formation required for such a task:

a) Since ecumenical formation is multi-levelled, preparing for work in the fields just mentioned, it should aim not only to impart cognitive information but also to motivate and enliven the ecumenical conversion and commitment of the participants. It should strengthen a spirit of faith which recognises that ecumenism "transcends human powers and gifts".(12)

b) The Directory speaks of the need for a pedagogy adapted to "the concrete situation of the life of persons and groups".(13) Consequently, all appropriate inductive and deductive methods should be employed.

c) Doctrinal formation holds an essential place in ecumenical formation but spiritual, pastoral and ethical questions should also be treated.

d) Doctrinal formation about ecumenism ought to take into account the context in which it is given. Special attention should therefore be given to the particular ecumenical conditions and pastoral concerns of the country or region concerned.(14)

[8] Patterns, structures and indeed length of theological programmes for students vary significantly from one country to another. Also faculties of theology, seminaries, study centres for initial formation in religious orders, and other pastoral, theological or catechetical institutes will in their own ways each find different possibilities and encounter different constraints. It is not, therefore, feasible or desirable to attempt a blueprint which would be applicable in every formation programme. However, the following two chapters do give important guidelines for introducing the Directory's requirements of an ecumenical dimension in the teaching of each theological discipline and of specific teaching on ecumenism.



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