Future of the Ecumenical Movement

By Robra, Martin | The Ecumenical Review, October 2017 | Go to article overview

Future of the Ecumenical Movement


Robra, Martin, The Ecumenical Review


Kuncheria Pathil. Future of the Ecumenical Movement. Delhi: ISPCK, 2017, 228 pp.

This is a thought-provoking book, and, precisely because of that, an encouraging one. Kuncheria Pathil shares insights of his own ecumenical journey that started in 1969 when he left India for studies at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. Visiting the World Council of Churches (WCC) for his own research and participating in a Bossey seminar, he decided to work on a doctoral thesis on the theological methodology of the Faith and Order movement. His book on Models in Ecumenical Dialogue that was published in 1981 in Bangalore made him well known far beyond India and has been a valuable reference for many students of ecumenical theology worldwide. After he taught svstematic theology for more than 30 years at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Pontifical Athenaeum, Bangalore, his knowledge and experience were recognized when he was elected president of the institution. He served for several years as president of the Indian Theological Association and as co-moderator of the Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS). He was also invited to collaborate with both the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). His more recent publications on the Theology of the Church: New Horizons (2006) and Unity in Diversity: A Guide to Ecumenism (2012) and Church on Pilgrimage: Trajectories of Intercultural Encounter (2016) prepare the ground for his new book that was published earlier this year.

In the first three chapters of the book, Pathil presents a thorough historical and theological analysis of the ecumenical movement, the Catholic approach to ecumenism, and the approach of the WCC. Each of these chapters ends with conclusions that inform the reflections in chapter 4 on challenges, problems, and ambiguities in the search for the unity of the church, and in chapter 5 on emerging ecumenical trajectories. As an Asian theologian who is deeply convinced of the value of inter-cultural and inter-contextual exchange and the recognition of diversity, Pathil takes a fresh look at the achievements and difficulties of ecumenical dialogue and cooperation. He sees himself as being free to expose obstacles on the way toward unity and dead ends where nothing new is to be expected.

He observes that the Roman Catholic Church has not yet found a way out of the tension between the impulses of the Second Vatican Council for collegiality and the recognition of the diversity of local churches in communion with each other, on the one hand, and its traditional exclusive claims, on the other. …

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