2014 marked the 50th anniversary of both the Second Vatican Council and the British Council of Churches’ Faith and Order conference in Nottingham, both of which took place in 1964 and both of which were key to the development of Christian unity in the last fifty years.
Unitatis Redintegratio is Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism. It was promulgated on 21 November 1964 and represented a huge shift in the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, although signs of change had been evident earlier. Unitatis Redintegratio officially recognised that ecumenism is a priority for the Roman Catholic Church which no longer understood unity as ‘separated brethren’ returning to the fold, but as restoration, a way forward to a unity which is not uniformity.
Throughout England the anniversary was celebrated in various different ways. Key events included:
- In September Churches Together in England’s Enabling Group took the opportunity to study the document with a talk by Bishop Paul Hendricks.
- On 11 November, there was a seminar in Leeds and ecumenical vespers attended by key ecumenical guests and most of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. The preacher was the Most Revd Sir David Moxon, co-Chair of ARCIC, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. The sermon and all of the conference presentations are brought together in a booklet which is available here.
- On Saturday 15 November there was a day conference in London: Christian unity since Vatican II — memory, present, where now?
- 24-26 November saw an important invitation-only conference for Ecumenical Officers in Britain. Entitled The ecumenical landscape: changing seasons — expanding horizons, key speakers were Bishop Paul Hendricks, Dr Keith Warrington, Revd Dr David Cornick, Dr Emma Wild-Wood and Dr Marcus Pound.
- On Wed 21st January there was a service at Northampton Cathedral with Archbishop Bernard Longley speaking, organised by the Diocese of Northampton Ecumenical Commission. Link to brief homily text from the Archbishop.