July 20, 2007

Go and Make Disciples / John Valenti

Ecumenism is at the heart of Renovare

The Vatican II Decree On Ecumenism (“Unitatis Redintegratio”) proclaimed that the restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Catholic Church, namely because a divided witness to Christ is an imperfect witness.

In a particular way, it is appropriate that all those who call themselves Christians, all those who profess Christ’s commandment of love, should live as one family.

Through unity among Christians, a more authentic and more effective witness could be given to the lordship of Jesus, and a more generous service to humankind could be offered in his name.

If you ask people why they take part in activities for Christian unity, their answers are likely to include:

• Accepting that God’s ultimate purpose is to unite all things in Christ.

• Obedience to the prayer of Jesus Christ “That all might be one” (Jn 17:21).

• Acknowledgement that Christ is the only one who can reconcile all things and people, and that Christ’s people must pray for this reconciliation.

• Acceptance that the Christian Church can only be the Church that God intended if all Churches acknowledge their mutual interdependence.

• Desire to achieve unity in a way that enriches rather than diminishes the legitimate diversity of local Churches.

The document also states, “There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart. … This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, “spiritual ecumenism” (Vatican II Decree On Ecumenism, 7-8). We desire to be in community with all Christian denominations and evangelical groups.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, secretary for the Vatican Council to Promote Christian Unity, said that, “While the search for Christian unity may need some creative ideas for overcoming long-standing denominational differences, it definitely needs education aimed at shoring up the basics of Christian life.”

If ecumenism is based on unity in faith, then Christians must know and believe the faith they claim to share.

On Sept.14-15, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is joining 26 other Christian Churches and denominations in a conference for spiritual renewal.

Renovare, from the Latin which means “to renew,” articulates a balanced vision of spiritual life and faith, and seeks to give a practical strategy for spiritual growth.

Based on our common, time-honored means of God’s grace, we will gather together in Spirit and prayer to learn more to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.

Renovare is funded with a grant from the Lilly Foundation and the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. Please feel free to consult the archdiocesan Evangelization Web site, which is located at


(John Valenti is the associate director of Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. E-mail him at jvalenti@archindy.org.) †

Local site Links: