Current Issue Article Abstracts
Spring 2021 Vol. 56.2
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North American Academy of Ecumenists 2020 Annual Meeting, Online (in Lieu of Kansas City)
During the 1970's, at the Catholic Ecumenical Institute of Münster, a group of scholars strove to theorize the human processes of understanding, communication, identification, and institutionalization that animate (and all too often compromise) ecumenical dialogue. The Münster group, led by Peter Lengsfeld, published Ökumenische Theologie: Ein Arbeitsbuch in 1980. This work was ahead of its time, yielding a wealth of resources for interpreting the entanglement of religious communities with one another and the epistemological force of those communities' oppositional identities. The Arbeitsbuch, however, was met upon publication with indifference or hostility in its own context and has received nearly no attention outside of Germany. This essay argues that the interpretive apparatus pioneered by Lengsfeld's working group—synthesized by John D'Arcy May as "fundamental ecumenics"—offers rigorous and adjustable diagnostic tools commensurate with needs emerging in the mid-twenty-first century. After introducing the framework pioneered by Lengsfeld and his collaborators and assessing the criticisms and reassessments that it subsequently met in the German academy, the essay sketches the contours of a fundamental ecumenics reformulated for the contemporary North American context, aiming to revitalize the discipline for analyzing the dynamics and stakes of human division—whether within, between, or beyond religious traditions.
"Receptive Ecumenism," as a methodology for ecumenical dialogue, appreciates and values the authentic witness of ecclesial traditions, communities, and identities. Receptive Ecumenism emphasizes the importance of self-examination and self-correction over and against any sense that these activities are the sole responsibility of the "other." Thus, there are notable affinities between Receptive Ecumenism and Bernard Lonergan's method of self-appropriation, which "catches oneself in the act" of the operations of consciousness and opens onto spaces for discernment, self-correction, heightened authenticity, and conversion. This essay proposes that the explicit and intentional inclusion of threat-to-care strategies, drawn from the "Insight approach" to conflict mediation based on Lonergan's method, might help the practice of Receptive Ecumenism achieve its aims.
Scholarly attention to the topic of full communion agreements is not new in the study of ecumenism. Nevertheless, with certain full communion relationships recently marking significant anniversaries and new agreements still being established, there remain opportunities to derive fresh inspiration from them for the ecumenical movement more broadly. Full communion relationships can discover new ways of sharing ecclesial life, moving from ecclesial autonomy to interdependence. Linking local partnerships can lead to regional or global possibilities. Relationships in one place can be leveraged to advance them in another. Life in full communion builds up a cognitive infrastructure that can lead to new creativity in response to intracommunal and extraecumenical concerns. Full communion becomes fuller, filled to overflowing, and carrying us toward the ecumenical future.
Pope Francis Describes What Is True and Holy in Islam
Moussa Serge Hyacinthe Traore
On October 28, 1965, the Catholic Church reported to her sons and daughters that she rejects nothing that is true and holy in the world religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all people (Vatican II, Declaration Nostra aetate, n.2). This article answers the question: "What is true and holy in Islam according to the actual leader of the Catholic Church: Pope Francis?" A landmark in Muslim-Christian relations was reached with the visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates and the publication of a joint document with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in 2019. Within a general framework of Pope Francis's thought the article inquiries his specific vision of Muslims and Islam. It critically comments on what Pope Francis wrote on Muslims and Islam in his programatic letter Evangelii gaudium in which he pours out all his soul, mind, heart and dream. Pope Francis weaves very well his thought on Islam and Muslims with the Second Vatican Council's teaching. At the core of his reflections lies the concept of authentic religion that excludes any form of violence.
How the Idea of a "Global Ethic" Arose—And a Catholic Christian's Reading of the Qur'ānic Basis for It
Leonard Swidler, Hans Küng
This essay strives to achieve two main purposes. First, it records the personal and historical story of the movement for a global ethic. Asked to write it for an Iranian publication, the article also addresses Christian-Muslim relations. Growing out of World War II, the history includes records of the Una Sancta movement, the formation of the World Council of Churches, Vatican II, and the friendship between Hans Küng and the author that initiated the global ethic movement that was drafted and signed at the 1993 World Parliament of Religions. Then, a dialogue begins between the author and his understandings of Islam and how the tradition supports both Christian-Muslim relations and the movement for a global ethic.
Explorations and Responses
Response to Leonard Swidler's "How the Idea of a 'Global Ethic' Arose—And a Christian's Reading of the Qur'ānic Basis for It"
A Church of Islam: The Syrian Calling of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio by Shaun O'Neill (review)
A Christology of Religions by Gerald O'Collins (review)
G. R. Willis