The Church In The Modern World Ecumenism

As a result of the reiterative schisms and reform movements we have only touched upon in the discussion above, there are three main branches of Christianity in the modern world: the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches, and Protestant churches. Fundamentally, the Bible binds all three but there is a wide range of doctrinal differences and ritual distinctions among them. In recent centuries, the Industrial Revolution, Fascism, Communism, and Fundamentalism have further segmented Christian communities, which are for the most part considered denominations of an overarching Christian church.

In contrast to the prevalence of discord that has characterized the Christian church since its inception, the dominant modern trend in intraChristian dialogue is toward ecumenism, or universality (from the Greek oikoumene, "belonging to the whole world"), a movement to establish a unity of Christians. Since the conclusion of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II (1962-1965), the largest council of Catholic bishops convened in the history of the church, a spirit of ecumenism has called all Christians of all denominations to engage in common efforts to relieve suffering and effect social change. The Catholic Church has been particularly concerned with catholic moral teaching on capital punishment, the right to life, contraception, and homosexuality. The ordination of women and same-sex unions are among the issues that particularly preoccupy Protestant denominations and the Anglican Church. But all Christians have come to new ecumenical understandings of the sacraments, ministry, and the Eucharist. The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church remain divided on the question of the celibacy of the clergy but there have been many conciliatory overtures since the pope and the patriarch of Constantinople rescinded their mutual excommunications in 1965. Ecumenism, the most modern movement in the church, seeks what is essential and common to all Christians. For this, the study of the literary and cultural remains of classical antiquity is a profoundly relevant heritage.

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