THE Bishops of England and Wales last week scrapped all previous directives on church unity moves in favour of the Vatican "Directory on Ecumenism," subject to the Bishops' own local conditions.
The bishops laid down the following guide-lines:
1. ECU M EN ICAL COMMISSIONS. Where it seems desirable Catholic units (such as a parish or deanery) may become full members of local councils of churches, playing their full part and contributing to the costs which may otherwise be borne by others while Catholics are reaping sonic of the benefits.
2. VALIDITY OF CONVERTS' BAPTISM. Converts from the Eastern Churches are not to be conditionally b a pt is ed. Other Christians should not be "indiscriminately"' conditionally baptised, but only when there is good reason to doubt the validity of the baptism after investigation.
3. JOINT SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY. Catholics are not only allowed to attend non Eucharistic inter church services, but are encouraged to attend them and to take the initiative in arranging them with the local bishop's permission.
The bishops explain why it is still forbidden to share the Eucharist with other denominations: "Receiving communion together in this sacrament is regarded in the historic tradition of Christendom, from the earliest days, as the supreme sign of unity already existing."
The bishops' statement adds: "The Directory implies that Eucharistic services are included among the liturgical services of our separated brethren in which Catholics can be permitted to attend occasionally, provided they do not receive the Eucharist nor act as a reader or preacher."
They warned, however, against this form of joint worship as leading to misunderstanding so that it "will rarely be appropriate as an expression of Christian unity."