Regina Archbishop Don Bolen at the book launch of 'Towards Unity: Ecumenical Dialogue 500 Years After the Reformation' at the Toronto School of Theology April 7. Photo by Michael Swan

Book: 'Towards Unity' explores golden era of ecumenical dialogue

  • April 23, 2017

Five hundred years of division in the Western Christian tradition has yielded 50 years of striving for unity — and some of the best theology of our times, Regina Archbishop Don Bolen said at the launch of a new book of essays on ecumenism.

Towards Unity: Ecumenical Dialogue 500 Years After the Reformation, launched at the Toronto School of Theology on April 7, features some of the best and brightest of the ecumenical movement.

Inspired by Bolen’s seven years working for Msgr. Jack Radano at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome, the book has an introduction by Cardinal Walter Kasper and essays by Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, the late Canadian ecumenical theologian Margaret O’Gara and Canadian Sr. Donna Geernaert. The essays about the search for Christian unity were all written in honour of Radano.

Present for the launch, Radano was anxious that no one minimize the harm done by splintering the Church in the West.

“Those were 500 years of tragedy,” Radano said. “Five hundred years of hatred among Christians.”

But Bolen was quick to point out the accomplishments of ecumenical dialogue since the Second Vatican Council.

“Much of the best theology of the last 50 years has been done in ecumenical dialogue,” he said.

Bolen hopes the book is read by the next generation of theologians who will have to carry the torch for the ecumenical movement. He also would like to see Towards Unity on reading lists for Catholic seminarians who often skip over ecumenical dialogue in their training.

Dialogue and ecumenism are “constitutive of being the Church today,” Bolen said.

The book is a significant contribution to one of the most significant movements in Christianity over the last century, said Canadian Council of Churches executive director Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton.

“Whatever denomination you were or are or ever shall be, the Reformation will always be a hugely significant event in the life of the Church,” Hamilton said. “It reminded us of the diversity and variety that God loves.”

Archdiocese of Toronto ecumenical officer Fr. Tim MacDonald pointed out how dialogue has strengthened the Church.

“We’re living in a new age,” he said. “Since Vatican II we have absolutely embraced the Church semper reformanda (always reforming).”

But dialogue is not for the sake of dialogue, said MacDonald.

“We haven’t achieved the goal yet. We’re still separated. We’re still divided churches.”

Towards Unity is available from Novalis for $32.95.

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