1961: Roman Catholicism: Pope John XXIII allowed Roman Catholic
observers to attend the New Delhi meeting of the World Council Assembly.
1964: Roman Catholicism: The Roman Catholic Church's Second Vatican
Council issued its Decree on Ecumenism. Although it stated that
only the Roman Catholic church offered an individual the means for the
fullness of salvation, they at least called Christians who were not in
communication with Rome to be "separated brethren" instead
of cursing them as "anathema."
1965: Roman-Catholic/Eastern Orthodox: Pope
Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras
of Constantinople terminated the mutual excommunication between Roman
Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox church that had been in effect since 1054
1994-MAR-29: Evangelicals and Catholics together: An organization
of conservative Christians involving Evangelical Protestants and Roman
Catholics issued their first joint statement:
Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium."
1997: Evangelicals and Catholics Together: They
issued their third major statement,
titled "The Gift of
Salvation." It described a number of beliefs on which they had
reached a consensus.
1998-DEC-1: Ecumenical forum: Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the
World Council of
Churches challenged their eighth assembly to consider the establishment of a 'Forum
of Christian Churches and Ecumenical Organizations.' 3,10
proposed forum could potentially include a large number of churches and organizations that
are not members of the WCC, including the Roman Catholic Church and Pentecostal
Presumably, Evangelical Christian churches could also join. "The forum could also
include regional ecumenical organizations (REOs), Christian world communions (CWCs) and
international ecumenical organizations."4
The assembly approved the proposal in 1998-DEC, against severe opposition. Clifton
Kirkpatrick, of the Presbyterian Church (USA), offered support for the Forum: "Renewal
comes from reaching out, not reaching in, and the forum represents a creative way to
involve the broader body of Christ in the search for unity."
1999-AUG-22: European charter:The Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) sent a draft
of the "Ecumenical Charter for Collaboration Among the Churches in
Europe," to the European Episcopal Conferences and to
members of the Conference of European Churches (KEK). The latter
conference includes all Christian Churches except for the Roman Catholic
Church. The document discusses common prayer across denominations,
reconciliation, concern for the environment, finding opportunities for
inter-denominational encounters and dialog, protecting human rights against
inroads by the state. etc. It opposes the use of "physical force,
moral pressure or material advantages" to encourage people to convert.
2000-FEB-29:European series of meetings:
According to ENI news service: "One of the most basic concepts of the history of Christianity
- that of the 16th-century reformation which split the Western Church
- is being radically revised thanks to a series of meetings aimed at
bringing Protestant denominations closer together. Theologians and
officials representing a range of Protestant denominations have been
meeting since 1986 to examine the nature of Protestantism. As their
dialogues have evolved - the sixth in the series was held in
Strasbourg, France, from 11 to 15 February - the participants have
dramatically revised the historical view of the reformation, throwing
out the stereotype of a monolithic "Reformation" led by
Martin Luther and John Calvin. Instead, the theologians say, there
were a whole string of events and people who reformed Christianity
over a period of several centuries." 10
2000-APR-14: Roman Catholic and Anglicans to
meet: According to ACNS news service:
"Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops from thirteen regions
around the world are to gather in Canada May 14-20 to review and
evaluate the accomplishment of thirty years of ecumenical dialogue
between the two traditions and to reflect on how the special
relationship between them has been developing in different parts of
the world." More details.
2000-JUL-9: Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox
meeting: Church leaders worldwide from the Roman Catholic and
Eastern Orthodox churches began a 10 day meeting in Emmitsburg, MD. It
was originally scheduled for 1999-JUN, but was postponed because of
religious tensions provoked the genocide perpetrated largely by
Serbian Orthodox and by NATO's attack on territories of the
former Yugoslavia. The members will concentrate on theological issues,
such as the methods of worship and taking Holy Communion. The meeting
ended without significant agreement. One unsolved major issue relates
to the status of the pope. Orthodox Christians regard Patriarch
Bartholomew I of Constantinople to be the "leader among equals"
of the 15 independent, self-governing and mostly national Orthodox
churches. They reach agreement at meetings of groups of bishops or
synods. Roman Catholics are far more centralized, with ultimate
authority concentrated in the pope.
2001-JAN-6: USA: Episcopalians and Lutherans
reach full communion: At the end of the year 2000 Christmas
season, the Feast of the Epiphany, Episcopalians and Lutherans
across the U.S. celebrated the start of full communion status. This is
the culmination of a four-decade long quest, between the 2.5
million members of the Episcopal Church USA and the 5.2
million members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The two denominations will now be able to share clergy, worship
services, outreach programs, etc. 12
2001: Canada: Anglican Church of Canada & Lutherans
reach full communion: The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) attained full communion. The
ACC Web News reports: "The Waterloo Declaration allowed Lutheran and Anglican clergy to minister
at the others' churches and for baptisms to be mutually recognized."
In mid-2007, the ACC reported that: "... the national Lutheran and Anglican leaders are moving the two churches towards working together
both in management and at a grassroots level, where joint ministry in rural areas is often a necessity."
2001-MAR-27: USA: Southern Baptists terminate
discussions with Roman Catholics: Representatives of the Southern
Baptists' North American Mission Board (NAMB) have held annual
discussions since 1994 with representatives of the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops. The goal was to obtain a clearer
understanding of each other's beliefs. The Baptists have decided to
terminate future discussions, after a final meeting in the fall of
2002. Rudy Gonzalez, director of NAMB's interfaith evangelism team,
that "The Roman Catholic-Southern Baptist conversations have
given us an opportunity to come to a very clear understanding that
there are some marked and clear theological differences between
us...We're focused on our mission first and foremost. Any future
conversations that might develop will have to fit within the
parameters of what the North American Mission Board has been charged
to do which is to assist Southern Baptist Churches to evangelize North
America." He mentioned that Baptists and Roman Catholics
disagree sharply in their beliefs about eternal salvation and the
authority of the Bible.
2002: Evangelicals and Catholics Together: They
issued their third major statement,
titled "Your Word is Truth."
It described some progress that the group had made on "the relation
between Scripture and tradition."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
The Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute distributes
a "1999 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" packet. See: http://www.pcusa.org/\
The week was scheduled for 1999-JAN 18 to 25; Ecumenical Sunday is on JAN-25.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) describes the 1999 National
Workshop on Christian Unity at: http://www.pcusa.org/