Ecumenical Studies Review

L'Istituto pubblica una rivista di carattere scientifico: Studi Ecumenici. La rivista vuole essere uno strumento di formazione ecumenica e di ricerca teologica; un mezzo per favorire il dialogo teologico fra le chiese. Esce con scadenza trimestrale. Si articola in tre sezioni:

a) Studi e ricerche: raccoglie i contributi dei docenti dell'Istituto e di altri ricercatori e teologi ecumenici

b) Informazioni dal mondo ecumenico: presenta in sintesi i più salienti avvenimenti del mondo ecumenico

c) Rassegna bibliografica: la sezione si articolata in Recensioni e  Presentazioni.

According to Luther’s Theses De Homine man cannot be defined theologically by philosophical terms but rather (1) by his standing within the history of salvation, (2) by his personal relation to God, mediated in Christ, (3) finally by the eschatological promise made to him in the gospel. This view offers to any philosophical effort on humanities a framework which on the one hand puts clear limits, on the other hand, however, indicates the field, wherein reason finds its important and necessary tasks for man’s understanding of himself (pp. 209-228).
The writer compares critically the basic terminology of the two great soteriological conceptions, the Orthodox and Luther’s: restauration vs. justification. He highloghts the «legalistic» overtones characteristic of the Western tradition and the latitude of the Eastern terminology. From the Oriental Fathers it is possible to retrieve the idea that the human being is «capax Dei» because of his being «imago Dei». While in Luther there is a divide between human nature and grace, the Orthodox anthropology is shaped according to Christ’s pattern, who is the man-God, the «archetype of communicated participation» in God. The Orthodox conception shares Luther’s idea of the «necessity of breaking down human pride» and of «becoming», but it remains deeply convinced that salvation brought by Christ is «interior» and «ontological» (pp. 277-288).
After an introduction on Luther’s conception of the new man and the relation between justification and sanctification, the author probes some of his writings, especially the «Sermon on Good Works», to ascertain which are the good works in Luther’s theology, which is their place and their value. The last section, on «Christian’s historical responsibility and creativity», makes clear how, on the basis of his own faith, the believer is called to respond creatively and responsibly to the demands of history, beyond positive law and even Moses’ Decalogue, and witness to God’s presence among mankind and cooperate with Him in the re-creation of the world and the good of mankind (pp. 247-276).
In the development of the concept of freedom the Protestant current prayed a decisive role. Christian freedom becomes the war-cry of the Evangelical Reformation, openly against the «Babylon captivity» of the law-abiding church. According to Luther the Christian is where God acts on his own, so that he cannot be submitted to any human law; because of this Supreme freedom the Christian is set free from himself, reaching thus an attitude of obedience and service towards all. Christian ethics is therefore under an absolute spontaneity and its motivation is totally independent from the law: it looks towards the criterion of the new creation, but it takes place in the still existing structures of the creation dominated by the original sin. Calvin tries to replace the new liberating concept into a lasting system of social organization. Trusting only in Christ and in God’s grace, the Christian is free from law, obedient to God’s will, free as well from the use of things, even his cultural needs. The care towards weak believers ought not to be an excuse for a false tolerance towards the «Pharisees» .. Calvin’s chosen man is a soldier obedient and committed to the sanctification of public and individual life (pp. 229-246).

Ecumenism in Italy

Written by Germano Pattaro
The difference between «official ecumenism» and «grassroots ecumenism», in the Italian Church is used as a background for underlining the contributions of groups and movements. Contributions which might seem marginal are none the less «history in the making» not «a series of exceptions». There remains the urgent task of abandoning an insignificant ecumenism living in programs and experiences that are parallel to ecclesial communities. Only in this way can one witness to ecumenism as an «appeal of God». As consequences, commitments on the ecumenical front are suggested, ways to «enter the fabrics of witness» in the community, commitments based on a new awareness of the Church’s essence. There is a final call to the three essential characteristics of an «expanding» ecumenical awareness (pp. 95-113).
This study intends to present synthetically the principles which Vatican II established for the Catholic Church’s path toward ecumenism. Such a study today appears essential, because the ecumenism of the early years after the Council seemed to easy, too fast and superficial. The texts of the Council, though, marked a profound turning point and these should now be taken into more serious consideration. The notion of the Church’s unity is at the center of ecumenical doctrine, not in itself, but in relationship to other notions, such as «diversity» and «historical variations» . This is the very essence of being Catholic and Apostolic. «Catholic», means unity in diversity and this study articulates the progressive steps of the Council’s teaching: from «absoluteness» to « fullness»; thence to the «meaning of limits», finally from internal unity to the unity of the world (mission). «Apostolic» means unity and continuity in changing times, or rather Tradition in its successive incarnations (tradition in history). But all then meets in the notion of the Holy. «Ecumenical style » makes love the measure of all, the measure and promotion of the truth. The Council’s doctrine, therefore, is not finished, but calls for hope in the Holy Spirit and therefore, in the future (pp.75-94).
The author describes the processes which led to the founding of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.) at Amsterdam in 1948. The foundation is seen as a long journey of parallel movements on the international scene which eventually converge to form the Council. The article deals not only with the sociological and institutional elements of the W.C.C. but also with the more important ecclesiological issues which undergird the organization. In the second part of the article the A. points out some of those documents of the W.C.C. which are imnortant for the understanding of the Council and its workings and which articulate a sort of «self-definition». (pp. 61-74).

Ecumenical Methodology

Written by Renzo Bertalot
Ecumenism means pluralism. We cannot therefore expect that one method coversp the whole area of the encounter among the Churches. A method grows out of experience and experience is sensible to the variations of time and cultures. It is, however, possible to trace several - lines all of them pointing in the same direction. Ecumenism can, first of all, be described as a Copernican revolution: our confessional understanding of the Christian faith is no longer the center of the universe. Christ is this center and we all depend on him according to his specific call and gifts. Secondly we can mention the relation between unity and renewal: they are not alternatives as they come from the same Spirit of God. Thirdly we must notice a growth in unity and diversity. Unity is no longer synonimous of uniformity and diversity is conceived as centered in Christ and reconcilied in him. Finally we come to realize that Churches do not co-exist in this world of ours but the pro-exist. From here a new quest for reciprocal witness and assistance. All these views bring us to a new age which also means a new understanding of the conciliarity and catholicity of the Church (pp. 41-60).
After an historical synthesis of the intentions and results of the Diet of Augusburg (1530), there follows a punctual, systematic analysis of the doctrinal content of the Confessio Augustana. Some attempts at interpretation are here clarified, underlining the points of similarity between theologians of the two Churches. The conclusion is the fruit of a penetrating analysis and fidelity to the historical data acquired. It furnishes elements essential to the ecumenical project (pp. 9-40).

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Biblioteca San Francesco della Vigna

Biblioteca San Francesco della Vigna

The Convent library, whose origin date back to the XIII century, after several hardships is now a provincial library and support the Institute of Ecumenic Studies. The Library has a vast book holdings consisting of an old archive made up of about 30.000 books and a modern one made up of about 80.000. In addition, the library has the magazine section counting 665 newpapers (363 current, 302 stopped).