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Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs


Featured Resource of the Month

Catholic/Evangelical Relations

Although the US Conference of Catholic Bishops does not have a formal dialogue with the Evangelical Community, the USCCB appreciates all opportunities to collaborate and work together on issues and initiatives of common interest.  The USCCB also encourages collaboration and dialogue on a local level.  More and more, Catholics and Evangelicals are discovering the richness of what they have in common. Often brought together over a concern for family and societal issues, Catholics and Evangelicals have been able to support each other and work together.

Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States are active and vocal about their faith.  Whether it is over abortion, marriage or family life we see ourselves as part of the great conversation going on in our country regarding these issues.   Both our communities engage the political world through the communication of Christian tenets and values that help to shape a more just society.  Whether that is through lobbying in Sacramento, encouraging national and local discourse on the issues of the day, or registering neighbors to vote, both communities work to make Christ's teachings practical and real for today's modern world.   Both communities have taken stands on criminal justice reform, environmental issues, marriage, religious liberty, family and life issues.

In 1994, a landmark statement was produced called "Evangelicals and Catholics Toward a Common Mission" (ECT).  Evangelical and Catholic leaders, while acknowledging important doctrinal differences within the two communities also noted places of convergence and agreement on basic Christian doctrines and Christian morality.  Though not a formal statement representing Evangelicals or the Catholic Church, it had a dramatic impact on the Evangelical/Catholic landscape.  This statement helped forge a new relationship for Catholics and Evangelicals offering new opportunities for dialogue.

In 2013, Catholics and Evangelicals joined together to sign the statement,"A Christian Call for Immigration Reform" that was signed by more than 100 leaders of both communities.  An initiative of Christian leaders in Minnesota four years ago, this statement still speaks to the present concern of care for immigrants and the need to develop a more just and compassionate process for immigration and citizenship.  

In 2015, the Poverty Summit at Georgetown University was held providing an opportunity for Evangelicals and Catholics to address key questions related to the moral, human and economic consequences of poverty. 

Evangelicals and Catholics continue to explore, both on a local and national level, ways to engage the world around us.  While we acknowledge important differences between our two communions, there should be no doubt that issues of mutual concern help bring us together.  A new path of understanding and friendship, therefore, has been established that should not be misunderstood.

Evangelicals and Catholics, two of the largest religious communities in the United States, are important voices in the public square.  The real differences between us have not kept us from that "practical ecumenism" that Pope Francis often speaks about, even as we engage together the complex questions of the day.  Our continued collaboration can only strengthen the moral and ethical fabric of the country, which bodes well for the future of Catholics, Evangelicals and the nation. 

[In 1942, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) was formed and today represents more than 45,000 local churches from almost 40 different denominations.   Along with individual bridge building on the local level, presently our collaborative partner on the national level is the NAE.]

500th Anniversary of Reformation

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. 

A resource list was compiled for those looking for ways to commemorate the Reformation and work for greater Christian Unity.  

Current Issues and recent news

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have published a joint statement for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

Read the statement Between Jerusalem and Rome: Reflections on 50 Years of Nostra Aetate published by the Conference of European Rabbis, the Rabbinical Council of America and approved by Rabbi David Baruch Lau, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel and presented on August 31, 2017 to Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Starting in 1989, the Orthodox Church has proclaimed September 1st the "World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation." In 2015, Pope Francis announced the establishment of September 1st as a day of prayer for Catholics as well.  SEIA encourages you to use this day of prayer for ecumenical collaboration and reflection, especially with our Orthodox sisters and brothers.

In light of recent tragic events throughout the world, the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs wishes to reaffirm the Bishops' Committee statement from 2014, which calls for a consistent ethic of dialogue and condemns religious violence.

Drawing on 50 years of national and international dialogue, Lutherans and Catholics together have issued the "Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist," a unique ecumenical document that marks a pathway toward greater visible unity between Catholics and Lutherans.

Who Can go to Holy Communion?

For Our Fellow Christians:

We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 §4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 §3).

For Non-Christians:

We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.

For more information, please see Guidelines for the Reception of Communion.

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