Christian Unity

Links and Activities

Local links with other traditions in the diocese: There are numerous local Christians Together groups, and Catholic parishes participate in these.

County links with other traditions in the diocese

In the Diocese of Plymouth, the Catholic Church is a member of the three county ecumenical bodies: Churches Together in Cornwall, Christians Together in Devon and Churches Together in Dorset.

National links with other traditions

Every two years, the diocese sends a representative to the Churches Together in England Forum in Swanwick as well as to the biennial meetings of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

National links with other Catholic dioceses

The Diocese of Plymouth participates in the work of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Committee for Christian Unity and sends a representative to national meetings twice a year.

Ecumenical exchanges

The diocese is involved in regular ecumenical French exchanges between Cornwall and Brittany and between Devon and Caen.

Catholic Ecumenical Officer for Devon

The Catholic Ecumenical Officer is responsible to the Bishop for facilitating the promotion of ecumenical commitment among Catholics in Devon. In addition, the Ecumenical Officer relates to other denominations at meetings, in projects and at ecumenical occasions. This post is currently held by Mary Ann James.

Catholic Ecumenical Officer for Cornwall

The Cornish Catholic Ecumenical Officer is responsible to the Bishop and Dean of Cornwall for encouraging the promotion of ecumenical commitment among Catholics in Cornwall and liaising with the other Cornish denominational church leaders. In addition, the Ecumenical Officer is a member of Churches Together in Cornwall and the Anglican Diocesan Bishop’s Council. The role is currently exercised by Deacon Andrew Shute, based in Truro.

Christian Unity Resources & Publications

The Gift of Authority: Authority in the Church III, The latest Agreed Statement by ARCICII, was published 12 May 1999 by the CTS, Anglican Book Centre, Toronto and Church Publishing Incorporated, New York (price £3.50).

Celebrating Unity in Prayer, for a fresh look at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Information from CTBI Bookroom, Inter-Church House, 35-41 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RL.

Decree on Ecumenism

The Second Vatican Council promulgated a Decree on Ecumenism called “Unitatis Redintegratio” (which translates as “The Restoration of Unity”). This restoration of unity was one of the main concerns of the Council and this important document sets out the Church’s position regarding other Christians and the ways and means that all Catholics can respond to the call to unity.

In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis wrote that ‘commitment to unity is an indispensable path to evangelization.’ #244-246

The goal is the reunion of all Christians into the unity of the Catholic Church, gathered “into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning”. An important advancement made by the Decree on Ecumenism is the positive regard for other Christians, not rejecting any of the Church’s spiritual treasury because it arose among those separated, but applying the gospel principle, “whatever is done in My name”… “whoever is not against us is for us.” Mk 9.37-40. “Significant elements…can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, along with other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit and visible elements.”

The Council fathers urged ‘all Catholic faithful to recognise the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part’ in Christian unity. #4 Unitatis Redintegratio

The Decree on Ecumenism has led to numerous endeavours in the Diocese of Plymouth over the years with the appointment of a Catholic Ecumenical Officer, a post currently held by Mary Ann James. Some highlights of this work include:

  • In 2001 the diocese took part in ‘Together in a Common Life’, and open forum for Devon Church leaders.
  • In 2007 the Torbay Deanery Christian Unity Commission organised ‘Celebrate’, celebrating 40 years of dialogue between Roman Catholics and Methodists.
  • In 2009 there was the Ecumenical Symposium on St Paul entitled ‘Looking Behind the Letters’. Featuring a panel of speakers from different denominations.
  • ‘Together in Faith’ 2013. A Panel Evening with Bishop Christopher Budd and Church Leaders of the other denominations, each speaking from their own perspective.
  • Participation in the annual Week of Prayer for Unity in January.
  • Participation in Good Friday annual Walks of Witness.
  • Pentecost Taize Christian Unity services services held in Torquay in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Some of the key principles laid out by the document are:

  • Openness to reform – recognizing scope for renewal and reform within the Catholic Church.
  • Interior conversion – recognizing that individuals need to have the right attitude of heart.
  • Shared cooperation – for the common good of serving humanity.
  • Dialogue – to be ready to talk to others about differences, to listen to them explain their beliefs and to explain ours clearly and with no compromise of truth.
  • Prayer in common (non-Eucharistic) – commending common prayer where possible.