Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism)

November 21, 1964

Issued by the Second Vatican Council, Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism) signals a shift in attitude towards ecumenical dialogue. The introduction begins by affirming the growing ecumenical impulse within Christianity as truly inspired by God. The first chapter outlines Roman Catholic principles on ecumenism, including the validity of apostolic succession and the imperfect communion which exists with non-Catholic believers. Chapter two then explores the practical forms of ecumenical commitment. This section emphasizes the need for renewal as a precursor to dialogue, the importance of mutual study and theological conversation, and the clear mandate to cooperate on social issues, even when remaining differences might preclude other acts of unity. The final chapter further delves into the precise nature of divisions with Christianity; after describing the unique bond Catholicism shares with the Churches of the East, it highlights more limited points of agreement with the separated churches and ecclesial communities in the West.

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