Last week, U.S. Catholic bishops, agreed to join Christian Churches Together in the USA, a loose organization of churches and Christian organizations comprised of groups from five Christian traditions, evangelical/Pentecostal, historic Protestant, Orthodox, racial/ethnic, and Roman Catholic. We talked to Richard John Neuhaus about the bishops' decision and what it might mean for evangelicals and Catholics. Neuhaus is editor-in-chief of First Things and president of Religion and Public Life. He also works with Charles Colson and Timothy George on Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
There was some hesitation by the bishops about joining Christian Churches Together, so why did they eventually decide to join?
I think the decision is contingent upon the understanding that CCT is a very modest enterprise, and it's very different from the discussions of 20 and more years ago about the Catholic church joining the National Council of Churches or the World Council of Churches. CCT is at this point really not much more than an annual meeting of religious leaders to get to know one another and get ideas and share experiences, which is a pretty obvious thing to do. There were a lot of bishops who were very worried that it would become something like the old National Council of Churches, and therefore there was a very substantial vote against the proposal. But reassurances have been given that there are many checks and limits and built-in occasions for making sure CCT remains the modest enterprise that it presents itself as being now.
Could it have much impact if it is such a modest proposal?
I don't think we should underestimate the ways in which people who get to know one another and develop relationships of personal trust can then take ...