Skip to content

On Christian Unity (Part 2 of 2)

Interview With Bishop Brian Farrell of Pontifical Council

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 7, 2006 (Zenit) - The path toward Christian unity has a lot to do with reviewing the painful events of the past in the light of Christ, who reconciles all in one, says a Vatican official.

In this interview with us, Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, talked about the recent assembly of the World Council of Churches, in Brazil, as well as the wider efforts in ecumenism.

Part 1 of this interview appeared Monday on Catholic Online.

Q: How must Catholics understand and live ecumenism in Brazil, where there is a great number of small evangelical sects?

Bishop Farrell: First, valid in ecumenism is the principle by which a person gives witness of his faith. Catholics, therefore, approach dialogue with the faith of the Church, seeking to understand who are the brothers separated from us, what is the basis of their faith, which are the points we have in common, which are the differences and, in the dialogue, attempting to identify the reasons to reach a convergence beyond these differences.

A Catholic who approaches ecumenism, therefore, must be a person of faith, of knowledge, of great spirituality, because ecumenism is not a question of agreements, discussions and issues addressed by experts. Ecumenism is the life of the Church which seeks the will of Christ in all other brethren united to us through baptism.

Q: In his homily for the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, last January 25, the Pope said that at the base of the ecumenical effort is conversion of heart, as the Second Vatican Council clearly affirmed: "There is no true ecumenism without interior conversion." In the face of this, how would you describe a heart open to union, open to the unity of love?

Bishop Farrell: It means that we will never be united if we are not united in Christ, and to come to live in Christ and of Christ is a question of conversion.

In ecumenism, this has a very concrete application in real situations in which, according to the course of our history, some have been persecuted by others, some have suffered at the hands of others, and the memory of past, painful and difficult questions continues, even after the centuries.

In ecumenism, conversion has much to do with the purification of the memory; that is, of again seeing all these events of the past -- which have caused so much suffering and so many divisions -- in the light of Christ. Christ reconciles all in one.

Through Christ, approaching Christ, living from Christ, we will obtain the intelligence and the strength -- I don't say to forget the past -- but to see it in the light of God, and in this discover that, despite what has happened, despite the difficulties, we are and always will be more brothers and sisters in Christ.

Q: Cardinal Kasper said, in regard to the World Council of Churches: "We are not members, but good partners." How is this work done on the whole? Why is the Catholic Church's dialogue with other confessions bilateral and not multilateral?

Bishop Farrell: With a specific confession, for example with the Orthodox, it is bilateral. Our dialogue with Anglicans is bilateral.
The World Council of Churches is like a global forum of many Protestant and Orthodox Churches. We aren't members for many serious reasons, and deep down we cannot be members because we are one, universal Church. The members of the council are national churches or groups of regional churches.

We are not inserted in this context, but we appreciate the work of the World Council of Churches as a magnificent possibility to bring together many Christians and to work with them, and, collaborating with them, to see unity as a whole, and while we seek unity, work to respond in a Christian way to the many problems and difficulties suffered in the entire world.

Q: Is there consensus on the meaning of ecumenism by those who take part in ecumenical dialogue? What are the main obstacles that must be addressed?

Bishop Farrell: There were two aspects in this assembly. The first was a meeting of people from all over the world, different among themselves, who belong to churches that are very different among themselves. All animated by the same issue, which is the search for unity.

Evident in this assembly was faith, the aspiration for unity and the desire to work for unity. We are aware of the profound reasons over which we are divided. Every Church is conscious of the problem.

Naturally, the Catholic Church, as a 2,000-year-old Church of strong tradition, is intensely aware and knows exactly what to believe and what to think about ecumenism. For us the aim of ecumenism is the full and visible unity of all the disciples, of all of Christ's followers.

Other communities often have a different self-awareness, and might have their own objective in the ecumenical endeavor. This is addressed in the multilateral dialogue in the World Council of Churches; an effort is also made to better define the aim of the ecumenical work.

Q: Were attempts made in the assembly for reciprocal recognition of baptism and for the establishment of a common date for Easter, a concern emphasized by Cardinal Walter Kasper?

Bishop Farrell: These concerns were addressed by many individuals. They are problems not only of this assembly, but questions that have been addressed in past decades.

Many studies and dialogues seek to clarify the consequences of a common baptism among Christians. We are all incorporated to Christ through baptism, even if we belong to one or another Church. This means a lot, and it is necessary to discover what this means.

In relation to Easter, the Catholic Church has expressed her willingness to change the way of fixing the date to be in accord with the Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Orthodox on the date, if a common solution can be found. We are willing. It is a very difficult problem.

In the third century of the Church there were discussions on the date of Easter and they continue today. It is a point on which we talk and we will seek a solution. It would be a magnificent testimony before the world that Christians celebrate together, on the same day, the resurrection of Christ, the center of our faith.


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Christian, Unity, East, West, Farrell, Ecumenism

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.