1910: Conference of the Protestant Missionary Societies in Edinburgh, beginnings of inter-confessional ecumenism;
1921: Beginnings of the ‘Conversations at Malines’ to promote the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics – initiated jointly by Cardinal Désiré Mercier, Catholic archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Lord Halifax (Anglican) and Father Fernand Portal (Catholic).
1925: First Universal Ecumenical Conference, called on social Christianity or practical Christianity, named ‘Life and Work’, in Stockholm (Sweden).
1927: First ‘Faith and Order’ Conference in Lausanne (Switzerland)
1936: On the initiative of Father Couturier the Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was launched following the Week of Prayer for Unity which deplored the mistakes of the Reformation.
1937: First Inter-confessionnal meeting of the Dombes Group
1948: First assembly of the ecumenical World Council of Churches in Amsterdam.
1960: Pope John XXIII created the Secretariat for Christian unity, followed by Vatican II Council (1962-1965).
1964: Meeting of Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras, the ecumenical Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople.
1966: Visit of Pope Paul VI to the World Council of Churches.
1971: First Anglican-Catholic agreements on the Eucharist.
1973: Leuenberg Agreement between the European Lutheran and Reformed Churches on ecclesial communion.
1975: Ecumenical translation of the Bible into French.
1982: ‘Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry’ document of Lima.
1987: Reuilly Agreements between Anglicans and Lutherans for practical ecclesial communions.
1991: Programme ‘Justice, peace and safeguarding the creation’ of the World Council of Churches.
1999: The common Lutheran-Roman Catholic declaration on the ‘Doctrine of justification’ was signed in Augsburg, Germany.
2001: The European ecumenical charter was signed.
2013: Report of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic commission on unity entitled ‘From conflict to communion’.
2016: 31 October in the cathedral of Lund (Sweden), common commemoration of the Reformation between Catholics and Lutherans; a joint declaration was signed by Pope Francis and the President of the World Lutheran Federation bishop Munib Younan (Palestine).
French Reformed Church
The French Reformed Church (Eglise Réformée de France) was founded in 1938 ; its origins go back to the XVIth century to the reformed Churches which were set up by Jean Calvin, it has succeeded in surviving until the present day. At present, it has more than 350,000 members and belongs to the French Protestant Federation (Fédération Protestante de France).
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of France
In 1808, quite a large Lutheran community in Paris consisting of foreigners became a Church which was connected to Strasbourg. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of France was established in France in 1872 after the Franco-German war of 1870. Today there are about fifty parishes and talks are under way to bring this Church closer to the “Eglise réformée de France”. The two Churches hope to unite, thus forming one Church.
Ecumenism manifests itself at various levels and in different ways (meetings, agreements, joint actions) and involves partners of various Christian faiths, often on a bilateral basis.
The present notice recalls some important dates for ecumenism, and then gives three examples of progress between Christians since the early 20th century, namely the Dombes Group assembling Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant theologians, the community in Taizé – where ecumenical young people from all over the world meet-, the ecumenical translation of the Bible into French.
The Catholic Church is not a member of the Christian Ecumenical Council (CEC) but takes part in some projects. The relationship has not always been simple, but significant progress has been made thanks to concerted actions between European Churches and to joint declarations between Lutherans and Catholics, including the one before the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.