CHARIS and Christian Unity
From its beginning the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has been part of an ecumenical current of grace. CHARIS is therefore, according to its Statutes, “an instrument to promote and work for unity in the body of Christ, as expressed in the prayer of Jesus Christ (Jn17)” (Preamble). One of its most important objectives is “to promote the ecumenical dimension of Catholic Charismatic Renewal and foster the commitment to serving the unity of all Christians” (art. 3f).
What is Ecumenism?
Ecumenism is seeking unity among all Christians of different churches and ecclesial communities. The foundation is our common faith in Christ and our baptism, in which sin is washed away, we become sons and daughters of the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, part of the great family of faith of all Christians, and coworkers with Christ in his kingdom. The fundamental goal of ecumenism is that the body of Christ be one, as Jesus and the Father are one (Jn 17:21). Toward that end, we reach out beyond ourselves to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and by the work of the Holy Spirit we grow in understanding, in friendship with one another, and in deeper conversion to Jesus Christ. As Christians, we announce Jesus together, adding the witness of our unity to the proclamation of the Gospel.
Living out Ecumenism
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is especially called to develop bonds with Christians who are baptized in the Holy Spirit, taking part in the same current of grace. Some practical ways we can engage in ecumenism:
1. Educate yourself on what our own Church teaches about Christian unity, especially the Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II and the Encyclica of John Paul II, On Commitment to Ecumenism.
2. Pray for unity, for other Christians, and for guidance and wisdom from the Holy Spirit in reaching out to them.
3. Learn to appreciate the gifts we bring to one another from our respective faith communions.
4. Cultivate a profound respect for each other’s conscience, freedom in Christ, points of view, and practices.
5. Pay attention to the small ways that our speech or actions may offend or annoy our Christian brothers and sisters and try to avoid doing so.
6. Make charity your aim in relating to other Christians. Love overcomes many things.
7. Once you have relationships with other Christians, look for ways you can pray together and serve those in need together, especially the poor, the sick, the lonely, the outcast, the suffering, and all on the margins of society.
8. Look for ways to evangelize and proclaim Christ and the Gospel together with other Christians.
Christian unity can only be achieved through a new Pentecost, both personal and in our faith communions. There will be no Christian unity without prayer, without conversion, without spiritual renewal, without reconciliation, and without working together.
We are celebrating “a current of grace, the current of grace of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. A work that was born… Catholic? No. It was born ecumenical! It was born ecumenical because it is the Holy Spirit who creates unity, and the same Spirit who granted the inspiration for this.”