Catholic Free Press

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  • Jan
  • 26

Ecumenism requires conversion

Posted By January 26, 2012 | 1:30 pm | Lead Story #3, Local

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By Tanya Connor

In a world plagued by war, greed and forgetfulness about the sanctity of life and the nature of marriage, reconciliation is desperately needed, Bishop McManus said last Friday at the ecumenical service at Assumption College.
Christians are to call the world to be reconciled to God, he said in his sermon at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service. But to the extent that the Church is divided, it cannot credibly preach reconciliation. So Christians pray for the deepening of their unity, that the world may believe in the one true God.
Co-presiding at the service with Bishop McManus were Bishop Gordon P. Scruton, of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts; Bishop Margaret Payne, of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Metropolitan Methodios, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston.
Bishop Reilly and other clergy, laity and religious also participated in the service, which included prayers, hymns, Scripture readings, and a collection for the ministry of the Victory Center in Worcester. This year’s theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was: “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ,” from I Cor. 15:51-58.
The week is traditionally celebrated between the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter (formerly on January 18) and the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle on January 25.
After the service William Higgins, of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Holden, rejoiced about seeing “the heads of the different churches up there arm in arm.”
“I think a service like this is a wonderful way to bring people of different faiths together and look for common ground,” he said. “And it’s mostly common ground.”
Having the bishops together shows “they’re on the same page,” said Deacon Richard C. Martino, a member of Assumption’s campus ministry team.
“It’s always good to pray together,” said the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, of the United Church of Christ. “It’s a reminder of what we can do together and what God asks us to do together.”
During Vatican Council II the Catholic Church committed herself irrevocably to the ecumenical movement, Bishop McManus said in his sermon. The council fathers said Christ founded one Church, but Christians differ as if Christ himself were divided, contradicting Christ’s will, scandalizing the world and damaging the preaching of the Gospel.
So Bishop McManus said those gathered were praying that Christ’s will that “all may be one” will come to pass in their own time.
But ecumenism can never succeed without conversion of mind and heart, he said. Christian unity – the goal of ecumenism – can only come about if Christians assume a new attitude that reflects the will of Christ, who prayed for their unity.
Conversion like St. Paul’s, and holiness of life, must become the “soul of the ecumenical movement,” Bishop McManus said.
He said St. Paul could proclaim Christ because he had been converted to Christ; he could introduce others to the one he knew and loved. The fruit of genuine conversion and reconciliation with God in Christ is the work of evangelization, the bishop said. And that work is the personal commitment of each Christian.