Called To Christian Unity

Fr. Damian MacPherson

Yesterday evening the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and York Catholic Chaplaincy hosted Tap on Tour at the Cock'n'Bull Pub, York University.  Fr. Damian MacPherson, director of Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs for the Archdioceses of Toronto, shared his insights on "Ecumenism Then and Now."  

In early Roman Catholic ecumenical movements people prayed that Anglicans would return to the Roman Catholic Church.  But in the 1930s this idea changed, we began to pray for a different unity: that which Christ wills, when He wills it, as He wills it.  It is profound to realize that Jesus himself prayed for the unity of Christian people.  In John 17:21 Jesus prayed to his Father ‘that they may all be one; as they are in me and I am in You.' 

Although we as a universal Christian church have yet to achieve unity, there is no doubt that unity is God's will for us.  Jesus did not wish for a divided church but a united church.  Pope John Paul II reminded us that ecumenism is not just an appendage of the church but is at the center of who she is - one can no longer be Catholic and not be ecumenical.  

What then does it mean to be ecumenical?  Fr. Damian shared with us some good guidelines.  The legacy of prayer within the ecumenical movement is important because it enlivens hope.  In Matt 7:7-8 Jesus promises: “Ask and it shall be given to you … for everyone who asks receives.” In praying for ecumenism we now pray for ‘reconciled diversity as a model for unity.’  John Paul II very wisely stated that 'we can only pass through the doors of ecumenism on our knees.'  And called to pass through that door we are.  Pope Benedict has called the church to continue to work for the full and visible unity of the followers of Christ.

Thus, it is my prayer today that we may be guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to be Christians of reconciled diversity: Christians of unity.


Author: Vanessa Nicholas

Photo By: Chris Chan