Correspondent in the Vatican
Following the line of the Second Vatican Council and the encyclical of Saint John Paul II “May they all be one” (1995), Pope Francis has published this Friday a “Ecumenical Vademecum” for dioceses, full of practical recommendations, and reminded bishops that theusual fraternal treatment with the Orthodox and Reformed communities is “A duty and an obligation”.
The text, of about thirty pages, begins by recalling that the search for Christian unity is “a challenge above all for Catholics” for its vocation of universality. In its decree “Christus Dominus”, the Second Vatican Council “describes the bishop as a man of dialogue, involving people of good will in a common search for the truth through a conversation marked by clarity and humility, and in a context of charity and friendship.
Apart from your personal activity, the bishop must create a diocesan commission on ecumenism and a delegate to multiply contacts with the faithful of other Christian confessions. In places where their presence is significant, “many bishops have found it useful to promote the appointment of those in charge of parish ecumenical animation and coordination, as provided for in the Ecumenical Directory.”
Apart from a positive personal attitude, the “Vademecum” indicates that “the Catholic presence in the media should demonstrate that Catholics esteem their brothers and sisters in Christ, and that they are available to listen and learn from them.”
Diocese websites should encourage this spirit and ensure that “eThe diocesan delegate for ecumenism and the ecumenical commission should be easily reached and contactable through the website ».
Along these lines, “the ecumenical page of a diocesan website is an excellent space to publicize events and publish the news. In any case, it will always be necessary to ask permission before using photographs of the interlocutors, since in some cases advertising can cause them difficulties.
The document advises the faithful to pray together, especially the Our Father, the prayers of the Gospels and the Psalms. In turn, “Catholic priests and other Christian ministers could, when appropriate, invite each other to preach during their respective non-Eucharistic celebrations,” as many bishops do on a regular basis.
The “Vademecum” recalls the multiple scenarios for dialogue, from permission to use temples to shared ministries in hospitals, prisons, etc .; or from the joint aid to those in need even common participation in dialogue with non-Christian religions.
The text lists the criteria for participation or non-participation in some sacraments and recalls that “The diocesan bishop is called to authorize mixed marriages between Catholics and other baptized Christians”. Bearing in mind that “mixed marriages should not be considered as problems, since they are often a privileged place where the unity of Christians is built.”