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Systematic Theology 5511b
Offered online January - April 2012
Instructor: Rev. Murray Watson, B.A., M.Div., SSL, PhD
E-mail: / 519-432-5726, ext. 247
Rev. William G. Cliff

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).”

Clerics of every tradition are facing a world in which ecumenical endeavours are a necessity born of our parishioners marrying, intermarrying, and being involved with other Christians of good will in our communities. While ecumenism is worked out at levels of Church government that understand and negotiate doctrine and discipline; ecumenism is lived out in small towns and parishes, as well as cities and cathedrals all over the world. This course will examine the issues facing parish leaders in the ordinary ecumenical situations by looking in particular at the relationship between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, with reference to the doctrine, discipline and worship of other traditions as well.


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 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
* A solid grasp of Catholic and Anglican principles of ecumenism, and of the key directives found in the Vatican’s 1993 Directory on Ecumenism;
* A comprehension of how these principles are put into practice in key pastoral situations;
* A familiarity with several of the pioneers of the ecumenical movement, both within and outside the Catholic Church;
* A knowledge of some of the main Christian denominations one is likely in encounter in Canada, their central tenets, their similarities to—and differences from—the Catholic Church.


* The ability to meet with leaders of Christian denominations (or non-Christian faiths), to discuss matters of faith with them in a respectful, accurate and open-hearted way;
* 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;
* The ability, if called upon, to prepare an ecumenical or interfaith service that is sensitive, liturgically appropriate and faithful to Catholic guidelines for ecumenical and/or interfaith worship.


* 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;
* An ongoing curiosity about non-Catholic Christians, and non-Christians, and a desire to learn more about them;
* Pride in the gifts given to the Church; humility for our failures to live these out as Christ wants;
* A personal commitment to engage in “spiritual ecumenism,” and to make Christianity unity a regular part of one’s personal and liturgical prayer;
* A “holy envy” for what is good, valuable and true in other religious groups, from which we as Catholics 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, and should include a title page with your name and UWO student number.

1. Each student will be asked to prepare TWO précis of the work of ecumenical pioneers/leaders (one Catholic, one non-Catholic), selected from a list to be provided at the beginning of the course. These summaries should provide a biographical overview of the person’s life, and should highlight their major contributions to the ecumenical movement and ecumenical progress generally. These précis (each 2 typed pages in length) should conclude with a short bibliography of 3-4 key sources (employing both print and online materials), according to either the MLA or Chicago bibliographic styles [Online at:].
Value: 25% (Due by midnight of January 31, 2011)

2. Each student will be asked to conduct a 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? Value: 25% (Due by midnight on February 29, 2011)

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. Value: 25% (Due by midnight on March 31, 2011)

4. Each student will receive a mark out of 25 for their active participation in the course’s online discussion forum. Before 9 a.m. on Monday of each week, each student is required to post (on the Web CT forum for this class): (1) the most significant point they took away from the previous week’s assigned readings (not to exceed 75 words) and (2) one question the readings have raised for them in terms of ecumenical outreach (not to exceed 50 words).
Make good use of the “word count” feature of your word processor to stay within these limits, out of respect for the instructors and the other students in the class. 


Required Textbooks:

Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Harvesting the Fruits: Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue. London, UK: Continuum, 2009 (available from the UWO Bookstore for $17.95)
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993 (5 print copies available from the UWO Bookstore; also available online at:
Weekly readings for the course will be made available electronically through the course Web CT page, by Monday morning at 9 a.m.


Week 1:                      Why Ecumenism? (Excerpts from Vatican II speeches, and the magisterial documents of Pope John Paul II)
Week 2:   The History of Christian Dis-unity
Week 3:   The "Four Wounds" in Christian Unity: (1) The Early Christological Controversies; (2) The East-West Split of 1054;
(3) The Reformation Under Luther; (4) The Reformation in England
Pope John XXIII and Vatican II -- Ecumenical participation in the Council
The Conciliar Decree Unitatis Redintegratio (On Ecumenism)
Week 3:   Catholic and Anglican Modes of Doing Theology:
Understanding the differences and similarities
Week 4:   The Question of Scripture
Week 5:   The Question of  Salvation and Sanctity
Week 6:   The Question of the Structure and Nature of the Church
Week 7:   The Question of the Sacraments
Week 8:   Basic Principles of Ecumenism, Catholic and Anglican 
Week 9:   Anglicanorum Cœtibus as a Case Study in Ecumenical Relations
Week 10:   The Debate Over the Validity of Anglican Orders: Apostolicae Curae (1896) and Saepius Officio (1897)
Week 11:   Some Implications of Ecumenism for Ministry and Pastoral Practice
Week 12:   The Way Forward From Here: Challenges and Hopes


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)