Ecumenism : a Canadian perspective

Monday, November 24 1997

tonnosVatican City (CCCB) — Bishop Anthony F. Tonnos of Hamilton, in an intervention at the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for America, said the Canadian experience of ecumenism has been a positive one, marked by openness, cooperation and honesty. Describing the call to seek unity “as an imperative for all Christians,” he outlined for the Synod delegates three related elements for promoting ecumenism: spiritual means, practical cooperation and theological dialogue.

Bishop Tonnos, who is also president of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, was intervening at the Synod on Nos. 42-44 of the Instrumentum Laboris dealing with ecumenism and the Catholic Church in the religious context of the American continent. As illustrations of the spiritual means, he explained how Christians in Canada participate in various forms of shared prayer, for example, during Lent, civic occasions and in times of tragedy. He also touched on bible studies, ecumenical prayer groups and clergy retreats that enrich the spiritual life of participants and promote Christian unity. In terms of practical cooperation, Bishop Tonnos outlined examples of collaboration in dealing with poverty, human rights, life issues, aboriginal rights, corporate responsibility and refugees.

Bishop Tonnos also indicated there was ongoing theological dialogue by means of formal and informal ecumenical discussions in small faith groups, as well as through the Canadian Council of Churches which provides opportunities for inter-Christian and interfaith discussions.