St. Peter's Seminary
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Systematic Theology 5511B

Monday, 9:30-11:20, Room 115

John Dool (519•432•5726 x272;
and Father William G. Cliff 
(519•438•7224 x294;

Office Hours: By previous appointment

A. COURSE DESCRIPTION (from St. Peter’s Seminary Academic Calendar):

“An introduction to the history and theology of the ecumenical movement. Reference will be made to the teaching of the Magisterium, significant achievements in ecumenical dialogue, and prospects for future achievements. Exposure to the rich variety of Christian ecclesial communities and traditions will be included. (Antirequisite: The former Systematic Theology 511a).”


This course will assist students to grow in the following knowledge, skills and attitudes:

* A broad understanding of the history and causes of Christian disunity;
* A knowledge of major modern efforts to restore that unity through ecumenical dialogue;
* A consciousness of the changes in the Catholic approach to other Christians (and non-Christians), particularly in the light of Vatican II; knowledge of the “state of the question” as regards the Magisterium;
* A solid grasp of principles of ecumenism, and how these principles may be put into practice in key pastoral situations;

* The ability to apply major ecumenical principles to one’s personal life and the life of the communities one is called to lead;
* The ability to find accurate, current information about Christian denominations (or non-Christian faiths), and to make good, critical use of library and online resources;

* An appreciation for the great progress in ecumenical relations that has taken place in the 20th and 21st centuries;
* A desire to reach out, in genuine friendship and cooperation, to leaders and members of other Christian bodies, to work together where possible, in the service of unity, justice and peace;
* Pride in the gifts given to the Church; humility for our failures to live these out as Christ wants;
* A sense of what is good, valuable and true in other religious groups, from which we can often benefit and learn.


Note: All assignments should be prepared in 12-point type, single-spaced, with 1” margins on all sides, and should be in Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) format. They should be e-mailed simultaneously to both instructors .

1. Each student will be asked to prepare TWO document studies of historical texts of ecumenical significance (selected from a list to be provided). These studies should provide analysis of who wrote the text, what was the context, what are its main points, what questions does it raise. (Each 1-2 typed pages in length. Due Feb. 4 and Mar. 4; 30%

2. Each student will be asked to conduct an interview (in person or by phone; 30 minutes minimum) with a clergy leader of a non-Catholic Christian community, and to write up a 3-page report on this experience. The report should (briefly) introduce the individual interviewed, and include reference to: (1) what were the areas of significant agreement/overlap with Catholic teachings/practice? (2) what areas of notable disagreement vis-à-vis Catholicism surfaced in the conversation? (3) how does this individual view the work of ecumenism generally (positively? negatively? why?)? (4) how does this person understand the concept of “Christian unity”? (5) were there any surprises for you in this conversation? Each student will present their report in class later in the term. Written report due Mar. 25; 30%

3. Each student will be asked to write a final integration paper (3 typed pages), presenting: (1) three points of significant learning or growth gained from this course; (2) concrete ways in which you could put the course content into practice in your own pastoral context; (3) areas where you realize you are in need of further growth or formation in this area. Due Apr. 8; 30%

4. Participation in class discussions. 10%


Weekly readings for the course will be made available at the A. P Mahoney library or are available online.

Walter Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits: Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue. New York: Continuum, 2009.


Week 1:      Why Ecumenism?
Week  2:                The History of Christian Dis-unity; A Brief History of the Ecumenical Movement (World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry)
Week 3:   The Conciliar Decree Unitatis Redintegratio (On Ecumenism); Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (1-36)
Week 4:   Theology and Basic Principles of Ecumenism, Catholic and Anglican (Ut Unum Sint, 1-27; Paul Avis, “Rethinking Ecumenical Theology”, Reshaping Ecumenical Theology, NY: T&T Clark, 2010, pp. 21-38)
Week 5:   The Nature of Dialogue (UUS 28-42, 80-82; Walter Kasper,  “The Nature and Purpose of Ecumenical Dialogue”; Margaret O’Gara, “Receiving Gifts in Ecumenical Dialogue”, Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning, Paul Murray, ed., Oxford: OUP, 2008, pp.26-38)
Week 6:   The Question of Salvation, Justification, and Sanctification (Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits, ch.2)
Week 7:   The Question of the Nature and Mission of the Church; Authority (Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits, ch.3, parts A and B)
Week 8:   The Question of Ministry in the Church Authority (Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits, ch.3, parts C and D)
Week 9:   The Debate Over the Validity of Anglican Orders: Apostolicæ Curæ (1896) and Sæpius Officio (1897)
Week 10:   The Question of the Sacraments Authority (Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits, ch.4)
Week 11:   The Question of Mary (ARCIC, Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ; Walter Sisto, “Marian Dogmas and Reunion: What Eastern Catholics Can Teach Us About Catholic Ecumenism”, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 46:2, Spring 2011, pp.150-62)
Week 12:   The Wider Ecumenism: Inter-Religious Encounters (The Conciliar Decree Nostra Aetate)
Week 13:   Some Implications of Ecumenism for Ministry and Pastoral Practice (Directory, 92-160); The Way Forward: Challenges and Hopes (Margaret O’Gara, “Witnessing the Ecumenical Future Together”, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 46:#, Summer 2011, pp. 368-77)


Students are responsible for knowing the University’s academic policies and regulations and any particularities of their own course of study. These can all be found at the University’s website ( Ignorance of these policies is not an excuse for any violation thereof. The following policies are particularly important to note:

Submission of Assignments: Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the dates as given above. Assignments may not be dropped off at King’s or submitted electronically. It is the responsibility of the student to organize his or her work so that the assignments are completed on time. For a serious reason, a student may approach the professor before the due date, and may be granted an extension at the discretion of the professors. Any medical reasons will be confirmed by proper documentation, as approved by the Dean’s Office. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment will be deducted for each day it is overdue without permission.
No electronic devices will be allowed during tests or the examination, unless approved in advance by Student Services at the University or King’s.
Students who miss tests will negotiate a “make-up” date with the professor. Any medical reasons will be confirmed by proper documentation as approved by the Dean’s Office.

Plagiarism: Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt by quotation marks and/or footnotes. Plagiarism is a major academic offense. Students may be required to submit their work in electronic form for plagiarism checking.

Selection and Registration of Courses: Students are responsible for ensuring that their selection of courses is appropriate and accurately recorded, that all prerequisite course(s) have been successfully completed, and that they are aware of any anti-requisite course(s) that they have taken.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.
(“Unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things,”
attributed to St. Augustine, and quoted by Pope John XXIII in his 1959 encyclical
Ad Petri Cathedram)

Some useful/valuable Web sites for students in ecumenism:

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:

The Centro Pro Unione in Rome (Vatican-sponsored centre documenting ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and relationships)
Includes the full text of most major bilateral and multilateral dialogues:

Resources for Catholic Educators: Ecumenism

Ecumenism in Canada (Prairie Centre for Ecumenism):

World Council of Churches:

WCC: “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry”
As a PDF file:

Canadian Council of Churches:

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue

Anglican Communion: Ecumenical Dialogues

A.P. Mahoney Library at St. Peter’s Seminary: Explore a Subject: Ecumenism:

Anglican Church of Canada:

Anglican Diocese of Huron:

Anglican Diocese of Niagara (including many ecumenical dialogue texts):

“For All the Saints” (Anglican Church of Canada):

“What is Ecumenism?”

“What You Need to Know About Ecumenism”

“Ecumenism for Catholics”:

“Praying for Christian Unity”

“The Christian Family Tree: Celebrating Jesus Together”:

The Church Times (a newspaper of Church life from England focusing on the Church of England)