Mandate of the Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations


“The ecumenical movement is a grace of God, given by the Father in answer to the prayer of Jesus and supplication of the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit. While it is carried out within the general mission of the Church to unite humanity in Christ, its own specific field is the restoration of unity among Christians, Those who are baptized in the name of Christ are, by that very fact, called to commit themselves to the search for unity. Baptismal communion tends toward full ecclesial communion. To live our Baptism is to be caught up in Christ’s mission of making all things one.” (Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism 22

Conferences of Bishops “can greatly facilitate the development of effective ecumenical relations with the Churches and ecclesial Communities in the same area that are not in full communion with us. As well as a common cultural and civic tradition, they share a common ecclesial heritage dating from the time before divisions occurred.” (Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism 28)

“Each Synod of the Eastern Catholic Churches and each Episcopal Conference, in accordance with its own procedures, should establish an Episcopal commission for ecumenism assisted by experts, both men and women, chosen from among the clergy, religious and laity.” (Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism 46)The Church urges her sons and daughters to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture. (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, 2)

1. Membership and Meetings

1.1 The Commission shall comprise four (4) bishops as determined by the Conference by laws, one of whom will belong to an Eastern Catholic Church
1.2 The Commission shall meet at least four times each year at a time and place that the members determine. Use will be made of audio and video conference facilities when the agenda or circumstances warrants.
1.3 The President of the Conference participates in the meetings of the Commission.

2. Areas of Responsibility
The Commission promotes the life and mission of the Catholic Church in Australia in the following areas:

2.1 Matters relating to ecumenism and inter-religious relations
2.2 Spiritual ecumenism
2.3 Study and research promoting ecumenical and inter-religious understanding.
2.4 Ecumenical dialogues
2.5 Ecumenical and inter-religious collaboration in work for justice, peace and welfare.
2.6 The Catholic Church’s involvement in the National Council of Churches in Australia and other ecumenical and inter-faith bodies.

3. Particular Functions
In particular, the Commission performs the following functions:

3.1 The Commission is attentive to the activity of the Church and its agencies in the following areas:

3.1.1 implementing norms and instructions issued by the Holy See
3.1.2 participating in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogues
3.1.3 encouraging ecumenical and inter-religious activity or engagement by Catholics
3.1.4 participating in ecumenical and inter-religious endeavours and structures
3.1.5 promoting cooperation and learning by diocesan ecumenical and inter-religious bodies
3.1.6 organizing the exchange of observers and guests at significant ecumenical and inter-religious events

3.2 The Commission, as approved or requested by the Conference, develops national policies in specific areas of its responsibility.

3.3 The Commission undertakes public and private initiatives in support of:

3.3.1 promoting mutual understanding and respect between peoples of various Christian traditions and world religions.
3.3.2 carrying out the mission of the church in ecumenical and inter-religious relations.

3.4 The Commission undertakes such specific projects as the Conference may from time to time approve or request.

4. Advisory Role
The Commission advises the Bishops and the Conference on issues that arise in the areas of its responsibility and, where appropriate, makes recommendations for action that might be undertaken at a national level.

5. Advisory Bodies
The Commission establishes, in accordance with the mandate in Schedule 1, the following advisory body to assist it in its responsibilities:

5.1 Australian Catholic Council for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations

6. Relations

6.1 The Commission maintains formal relations with:

6.1.1 National Council of Churches in Australia
6.1.2 Council of Australian Jewry
6.1.3 Diocesan Commissions for Ecumenism and inter-religious Relations
6.1.4 Equivalent bodies in other Christian churches and ecclesial communions and with appropriate bodies and representatives of other world religions.

8. Secretariat
The Secretariat for Church Life assists the Commission in fulfilling its tasks.

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GPO Box 368
Canberra ACT 2601

1300 4FAITH (1300 432 484)
Catholic Enquiry Centre

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