Ecumenism is making substantial though not sensational progress in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. There are small pockets of resistance here and there but no large-scale opposition to the movement. The extent of ecumenical progress in Catholic circles can be gauged, I think, from the fact that it was only a little more than a decade ago that Cardinal Stritch of Chicago forbade any Catholic to attend the World Council General Assembly at Evanston.
The most immediate cause of the recent acceleration in the pace of our ecumenical progress has been the participation of the Catholic bishops themselves in the movement. Ten years ago ecumenism was thought to be a dubious and marginal hobby of specialists such as Father Gustave Weigel. Now the American hierarchy has set up the U. S. Bishops Commission for Ecumenical Affairs to foster the movement and to supply the bishops with guidelines for activities such as dialogue and joint prayer services. This official involvement of the bishops overshadows all the high-level dialogues by biblical scholars and theologians as well as the multitudinous projects for religious cooperation in civic and academic affairs. For the hierarchy now officially recognizes other Christians not merely as individuals but as churches, in line with the Vatican Council decree on ecumenism.
The Bishops Commission has established a number of subcommissions for dialogue with other churches: one for the Lutherans, one for the Methodists, the Anglicans, the Orthodox, the Presbyterians and Reformed, the Conservatives, the National Council of Churches and the World Council—and the Jews. The subcommission for the National and World Councils will be a counterpart of the joint Vatican—World Council working ...1
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