“The ecumenical movement is a grace of God, given by the Father in answer to the prayer of Jesus: ‘May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.’ The ecumenical movement is carried out within the general mission of the Church to unite humanity in Christ...” Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the application of principles and norms on Ecumenism, 1993, n. 22)
The ecumenical movement seeks to be a response to the gift of God's grace which calls all Christians to faith in the mystery of the Church according to the design of God who wishes to bring humanity to salvation and unity in Christ through the Holy Spirit ... The Second Vatican Council clearly asked Catholics to reach out in love to all other Christians with a charity that desires and works actively to overcome in truth whatever divides them from one another. Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the application of principles and norms on Ecumenism, 1993, n. 9.
The Catholic Church in New Zealand is actively involved in this quest to foster the unity of Christians. It does so in a variety of ways which flows from its concern for both charity and truth which is expressed in inter-church discussion groups, theological dialogue, joint prayer services and joint efforts to promote a just and compassionate society in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops are fully committed to the cause and have an agency to assist them in their ecumenical work – the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Committee for Ecumenism. Members of the Committee are appointed by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and include a bishop.
Committee members are often invited to attend major functions of other Churches. They also organise ecumenical conferences and visits, develop ecumenism workshops for parishes, adapt the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity material for New Zealand use, and regularly familiarise themselves with the guidelines issued by the Holy See for ecumenical activities.
A major focus of the Committee is to develop bilateral theological dialogues and meet at least twice a year with representatives of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches.
Common projects with other churches include ecumenical worship services, church leaders’ meetings, theological dialogues and events with other churches. The Committee supports Catholic representation on inter-denominational bodies and agencies such as Ministers’ associations, New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, Churches Broadcasting Commission, and various local chaplaincies, groups and missions.
The Catholic Church believes that Christians should act together in certain areas, such as praying together, (spiritual ecumenism), Bible studies, and working together for just and compassionate social arrangements. The Catholic Church knows that the true path of ecumenism, the path of truth and charity, requires all Christians to be well grounded and loyal to their own distinctive identity and traditions. The authentic path of ecumenism will always respect the areas of doctrine and practice where there are different understandings and practices.