Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
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The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity origins are associated with the Second Vatican Council which met intermittently from 1962–1965.
Pope John XXIII wanted the Catholic Church to engage in the contemporary ecumenical movement. He established a "Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity" on 5 June 1960 as one of the preparatory commissions for the Council, and appointed Augustin Cardinal Bea as its first president. The Secretariat invited other Churches and World Communions to send observers to the Council.
The Secretariat prepared and presented a number of documents to the Council:
- Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio);
- Non-Christian religions (Nostra Aetate);
- Religious liberty (Dignitatis Humanae);
- With the doctrinal commission, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum).
The PCPCU has two sections dealing with:
- The Eastern Churches - Orthodox Churches and ancient Oriental Churches;
- The Western Churches and Ecclesial Communities and for the World Council of Churches.
The Council has a twofold role:
- The promotion within the Catholic Church of an authentic ecumenical spirit according to the conciliar decree Unitatis Redintegratio;
- To develop dialogue and collaboration with the other Churches and World Communions.
The PCPCU is responsible for naming Catholic observers at various ecumenical gatherings and in its turn invites observers or "fraternal delegates" of other Churches or ecclesial Communities to major events of the Catholic Church.
At present, the PCPCU is engaged in an international theological dialogue with each of the following Churches and World Communions:
- The Eastern Orthodox Church;
- The Coptic Orthodox Church;
- The Malankara Orthodox Church;
- The Anglican Communion;
- The Lutheran World Federation;
- The World Alliance of Reformed Churches;
- The World Methodist Council;
- The Baptist World Alliance;
- The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ);
- The World Evangelical Alliance;
- Some Pentecostal groups.
Directed by a Cardinal President, assisted by a Secretary, a Joint Secretary and an Under-Secretary.
The Council is responsible for working with other Churches on ecumenical translations of Sacred Scripture, and promoted the establishment of the Catholic Biblical Federation.
Relations with the Jews
Interestingly, the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews is the responsibility of the PCPCU, whilst the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with Muslims comes under the direction of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. This is due to the fact that when the Council was being created the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews was consulted as to whether it wished to come under the Inter-Religious Dialogue Council, it declined and thus remains part of the Promoting Christian Unity Council.
- Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church
- Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches