Historical Context Of Paul Vi 's Decree On Ecumenism

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Historical Context
When Pope Paul VI published The Decree on Ecumenism: Unitatis Redintergratio in 1964, it signalled the Catholic Church’s official entrance into the Christian ecumenical movement. Historically, the ecumenical movement began when the World Missionary Conference first convened in 1910, establishing two ecumenical organs: Life and Works, and Faith and Order (Textbook). Prior to the promulgation of Unitatis Redintergratio, the Catholic Church’s view of the ecumenical movement was defined by Paul VI’s predecessors Leo XIII and Pius XI, who insisted that the Catholic Church is the only Church of Christ, therefore barring Catholics from participating in interchurch dialogue (Textbook). These sentiments forbade ecumenical
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The decree identifies that there are doctrinal differences between Protestant communities and the Catholic Church. However, despite these doctrinal differences the sacrament of baptism ensures that Protestants are members of Christ’s body (UR 3). As members of Christ’s body, the Protestants are privy to salvation as Children of the Catholic Church (UR 3). Chapter one concludes that members of the Catholic Church should pray and stay informed about their Protestant brethren in order to promote Christian unity (UR 4). Chapter two explains that the ecumenical unity is the concern of the whole Church, the congregation and clergy, which is manifested by the bond all Christians share with Christ (UR 5). Chapter two continues to clarify that Christian unity is dependent on the moral reformation of Catholics, to ensure its faithful live according to Church’s moral teachings (UR 6). Unitatis Redingratio insists that Catholics strive for a deeper knowledge of their Christian brethren in hope that the dialogue between Christian communities can remove the obstacles hindering Christian unity (UR 7-12). The final chapter of the decree focuses on the division between the Roman Church and the Churches/ ecclesial communities of the East and West. Regarding the Church in the East, Unitatis Redintergratio explains that the Catholic Church enjoys a special relationship with the Orthodox Church, due to their shared apostolic foundation (UR 14). Unitatis

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