They Are In Earnest: Christian Unity in the statements of Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul 11 by Edwarsi Yarnold S 1 (St P3111 Publications, £10).
l'HE TITLE emanates from the spring of 1963 when Bishop John Moorman of Ripon, leader of the Anglican delegation to the Second Vatican Council, perceived that most of the ,Orthodox Churches were not taking Pope John XXIII's invitation to observe' and' participate seriously. The Pope offered friendship and equality, and Bishop Moorman saw that: so he travelled to Patriarch Athenagoras in Constantinople and told him, using the title words, to come. They came to the rest of the Council, and official dialogue soon followed.
The author is also in earnest, as his own life shows. A classicist, an Oxford DD (the first Catholic priest to be so since ... we-ell, St John Fisher was Cambridge), a bearer of St Augustine's medal from Canterbury for his dozen years on the ARC1C Commission, Oxford's Select Preacher and Sarum Lecturer and Chairman of the Faculty Board of Theology, he has also been (as a Jesuit) Master of Campion Hall during 1965-72. This is his fourth book, and he is in his mid-fifties, about to embark on a sabbatical which he hopes will issue in two more books.
He has written this study largely as his contribution to the now doubtful papal visit. It is a study of papal statements on ecumenism culled in large measure from the Information Service of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (Vatican City) — but add Tablet pepper and Hebblethwaite salt for measure. There are six chapters on the 15 years of Montini, Paul VI; a tiny seventh
on Luciani / IllustrissimL and four on the less than four'years of the peripatetic ambulandissimus Wojtyla, John Paul II. These are all chronological wot-came-next, which unfold an astonishing degree of pluralism, particularly from the initiatives of the still under-estimated Paul VI, whose generosity to others was of heroic proportions; his was the proleptic doctrine .of Sister.. Churches (sorella chiesa),.which may yet prove the vital ecumenical bridge-idea.
But the main work went into the twelfth chapter, (pages 243-8) 'papal principles of ecumenism' (which might even illuminate the papacy, whose 'principles' are largely pragmatic and day-to-day; though, being consistent, they are also patient of this treatment). The principles are set out systematically, the first being that unity is an essential quality of the Church, at least in its pure completeness; and the first duty of the living Church is to search for that completeness, to repair Christ's seamless robe, so that the world may believe'. Disunity is a counter testimony, which brings no reconciliation or love — ecumenism being characterised by love of Christ and his members, the Church. Such love requires communion of faith, a condition for the great expression thereof in the sharing of the Eucharist. As to that faith, there are some matters concerning which doctrine admits no diversity; as to that communion, it requires to be of discipline and of ministry — all these in obedience to what is received of Christ our head.
So disunity brings suffering, not least in a mixed marriage where there cannot be that added communicatio in sacris which seals its depth. Impatient as we may be_jor_unity, it_requires growth in the fullness of the Lord, and it requires prayer and kindled appetite, conversion and purity of heart — a process of spiritual ecumenism within each person. It requires dialogue, which implies sympathetic listening, hearing the other part so that we may recognise and respect one another in Christ, deepen our understanding and convictions and widen our horizons without losing fidelity to our, own traditions by sliding into false pluralism.
Forgiving brethren, forgetting bitterness, foregoing rivalry, we are called to share the search for old and new truth; not to administer mutual pain killers. There is already much to share: in pastoral concern, in defence of morals, in guarding peace and justice, in matters of poverty and human dignity; in creating a civilisation of love, which reaches out beyond the Christian to other worlds of mankind, till there is one fold in Christ completed. in this, the papacy should be the hinge and guarantor of unity, serving the communion of faith and spiritual life, guarding the gifts of truth and grace — but including the beauty of doctrinal and pastoral pluralism; for 'unity is symphonic' and in dubiis libertas, provided of course that there is convergence beneath diversity and a real recognition of the power of the Resurrection and the Spirit.
Archbishop Runcie in his Foreword approvingly quotes another Jesuit, that in ecumenical progress "the initiative must pass from the theologians to the office-holders". Now?
Alberic Stacpoole, O.S.B.