World Council of Churches acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, spoke on “Is Christian Ecumenism a Model?” at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Bologna, Italy being held 12-14 September.
“Christian ecumenism is a model for Christian communities that find themselves in relationships of indifference, conflict or competition with each other,” said Sauca. “Ecumenism is therefore not a choice but an imperative for the churches despite – or because of – the counter-witness of their longstanding divisions.”
He noted that churches have lived for centuries in isolation, or in conflict. “Only in the last century have many of them agreed to begin addressing together the causes of their separation,” he said. *But we still have a long way to go on the ecumenical road.”
Christianity must decolonize its relations with other faiths, Sauca further noted. “In a global context in which the pandemic has catalysed inequalities and injustices, our Christian faith calls us to interreligious solidarity in this time of healing—a solidarity sustained by hope nurtured by widely shared ethical and spiritual values such as the unity of the human family, and guided by principles such as humility and vulnerability; respect; community, compassion and common good; dialogue and mutual learning; repentance and renewal; gratitude and generosity, and love,” he said.
The ecumenical calling extends to encompass our economic relations with each other, as well as our relations with the environment, Sauca said. “The economic, the ecological and the moral are deeply intertwined and cannot be considered separately,” he reflected. “The pandemic, rising levels of poverty and inequality, and the climate crisis teach us vividly of the global dimensions of the oikos, of our shared vulnerability—and shared fate—as one humanity.”
We now feel more keenly the fragility of human life, he concluded. “These global challenges have revealed or reinforced not only our shared vulnerability but also our fundamental community as humans, our solidarity across divides and borders, and our capacity for empathy, understanding, and sacrifice,” he said. “And increasingly, we find that our shared faith commitment—however differently conceived—and shared values draw us to closer ties and collaboration with other religious traditions in cooperative work for urgent climate action, for economic justice and for basic human rights.”