The Ecumenical Movement Part 3: Rome and the Ecumenical Movement -- By: Rene Pache

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 108:429 (Jan 1951)
Article: The Ecumenical Movement Part 3: Rome and the Ecumenical Movement
Author: Rene Pache


The Ecumenical Movement
Part 3: Rome and the Ecumenical Movement

Rene Pache

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 77–110, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–34 respectively.}

The ecumenical movement looks toward the visible unity of all Christendom. Thus it cannot neglect that group which numerically is the largest communion in the world. According to statistics given in 1932 by the League of Nations there are actually 363,000,000 Roman Catholics, 252,000,000 Protstants and 179,000,000 Greek Orthodox. One may well ask the question how there could be an ecumenical enterprise which would not have at least the intention of including the largest Christian communities. Such an enterprise would immediately cease to be ecumenical.1 On the other hand, the church of Rome with her pretension to catholicity suffers even more than the others from schism and divisions which hinder her from being truly universal. It is for this reason that, since the birth of the ecumenical movement, it has made advances toward Rome to which on its part Rome has not been indifferent.

In the encyclical Provida Matris of May, 1895 Leo XIII decreed that the day preceding Pentecost should be consecrated to prayer “for the hastening of reconciliation with our separated brethren.” In 1908 the American Episcopal church instituted the octave of prayer for unity; adopted by Catholic bishops and approved by Pope Pius XI in 1909, it is increasingly observed. It has become the world-wide week of prayer for Christian unity (January 18–25), to be distinguished from the Protestant week of prayer arranged by the Evangelical Alliance at the beginning of January. Therein catholic Christians are invited to kneel together, to repent unitedly and to ask with one heart from their common Father

that unity which Christ wishes, and in the way He wishes it. The movement known as Faith and Order has also been rallied for this purpose. In France the National Reform Synod of Agen (met during 1936), “having understood that a special effort of intercession for the unity of the church was to take place the fourth Sunday after Christmas in many Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic circles, (1) greets this initiative with joy and enthusiasm, (2) suggests to pastors…and to individuals that they unite the prayers of the Reformed church of France to the other sections of the universal church.”2

Immediately after the first World War the organizers of the future Lausanne conference endeavored to secure the participation of the Roman church. The Pope responded...

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