Handbook - Ecumenism and Interfaith

Additional section from Kiama Group



Ecumenism is the promotion of relationships among Christian churches – Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, towards Christian unity. Inter-religious Dialogue is the movement among various levels with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and those of other religions, towards a better understanding of each other, promoting acceptance and respect, world peace and justice. In Nostra aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, the Second Vatican Council taught that "the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men" (Nostra aetate, n. 2).

Strongly based in the Roman Catholic tradition, engaging in ecumenical initiatives and interfaith dialogue is part of the Church’s commitment to building God’s Kingdom through understanding, reconciliation and peace.

With a strong desire to put into practice our Lord’s teachings of love and reconciliation, Catholics are encouraged to take part in the ecumenical movement and in inter-religious dialogue promoted by the Second Vatican Council. Dialogue with Christians of other denominations and people from other faith traditions, is part of the official teaching of the Catholic Church and a vital aspect of its mission. In 2010 Pope Benedict stated that ‘an essential part of our church’s life and mission is the search for greater unity in charity with other Christians and dialogue with those who are not Christians.’

In Australia the Catholic Bishops’ Conference promotes engagement with other Christians and other faiths through the Bishops’ Commission on Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations (see web address).

As a first step along the way it is good to acknowledge what we already share in common in the Church that all Christians profess as ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic’ church.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a significant partner with all Christians in this goal of Christian unity. It is a broad and inclusive community of churches meeting Internationally since its formal inauguration in 1948, bringing together churches and denominations from more than 110 countries.

“Today the church is continually called upon to enable its members to relate to persons of other faith traditions and to live as witnesses with others.”

World Council of Churches, Ecumenical Considerations for Dialogue and Relations with People of Other Religions. (2002)

Between the Feast of Assumption and Pentecost, coinciding with the end of Autumn in Australia, Christians from many denominations here in Australia celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, taking the opportunity to come together with each other for prayer services and fellowship.

Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated his commitment to ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue when he visited Lebanon in 2012. Throughout the text of the document issued in relation to this visit, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, many of these matters of cooperation with other faiths touched on social justice concerns and related to Catholic Social Teaching, particularly encouraging religious freedom and peacemaking among different Christian communities and among different religious traditions. Religious freedom, emerging from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions, can promote peace and interreligious cooperation for the common good. Benedict XVI urged everyone in this Middle Eastern region to achieve peace and justice through interreligious cooperation. “Religions can join one another in service to the common good and contribute to the development of each person and the building of society”.

Full text: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/travels/2012/index_libano_en.htm


Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity


Australian Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations


Archdiocese of Brisbane –Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations


World Council of Churches - http://www.oikoumene.org

National Council of Churches – http://www.ncca.org.au

National Council of Churches - NATSIEC – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission http://www.ncca.org.au/departments/natsiec

ACTIONS - Join in the action already happening:

Community based ecumenical worship and prayer services

Taize style prayer services in your local area

Faith & Ecology Network – National organisation linking people of faith who care about God’s creation


Bridges across the Illawarra – Inter-religious dialogue initiative of the Knights of the Southern Cross

iWIN – Illawarra Women’s Interfaith Network - http://illawarrawin.blogspot.com.au

Schools can join ‘Face to Faith’ – an international platform for inter-religious dialogue for young people


FaithWorx – Christian Muslim Dialogue, Campbelltown


Liberating God, we thank you for the resilience and hopeful faith of those who struggle for dignity and fullness of life. We know that you raise up those who are cast down, and free those who are bound. Your Son Jesus walks with us to show us the path to authentic freedom. May we appreciate what has been given to us, and be strengthened to overcome all within us that enslaves. Send us your Spirit, and by that Spirit set us free from all that inhibits, alienates and divides us, so that with voices united we can proclaim your love to the world. God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.


Lord Jesus Christ, at your Last Supper you prayed to the Father that all should be one. Send your Holy Spirit upon all who bear your name and seek to serve you. Strengthen our faith in you, and lead us to love one another in humility. May we who have been reborn in one baptism be united in one faith under one Shepherd. Amen.