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Unitatis Redintegratio is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism. It was passed by a vote of 2,137 to 11 of the bishops assembled and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964. The title in Latin means "Restoration of Unity," and is from the first line of the decree, as is customary with major Catholic documents (see incipit). (The full text in English is available from the Holy See's website.)
The numbers given correspond to the section numbers within the text.
- Introduction (1)
- Catholic Principles on Ecumenism (2-4)
- The Practice of Ecumenism (5-12)
- Churches and Ecclesial Communities Separated from the Roman Apostolic See (13-24)
- The Special Consideration of the Eastern Churches (14-18)
- Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West (19-24)
Anglican communion controversy
Apostolicae Curae is the title of a papal bull, issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring all Anglican ordinations to be "absolutely null and utterly void". Unitatis Redintegratio does not mention this bull because many Anglican bishops had been re-ordained by Old Catholic bishops and their status was thought to have been settled. However, the Church had to re-assert the validity of Apostolicae Curae during the papacy of John Paul II because of new doctrinal and ecclesiological questions that were explained in the magisterial documents Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Ad Tuendam Fidem, Dominus Iesus and responses on subsistit in. There are similar issues with the Lutheran Church, which has bishops that do not have apostolic succession as defined in Catholic doctrine.
Policy on the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox
Unitatis Redintegratio calls for the reunion of Christendom and so it is not terribly different from previous calls for unity by Pope Leo XIII in the 1894 encyclical Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae. However, the document articulates a different kind of ecclesiology than Praeclara, focusing on the unity of the people of God and on separate Christian brethren instead of a classical call for schismatics to return to the fold under the unity of the Vicar of Christ.
The document acknowledges that there are serious problems facing prospects of reunion with Reformation communities that make no attempt to claim apostolic succession such as the Anglican communion does. Ecclesial communities that adhere to calvinism are a particular case because they often have important doctrinal differences on key issues such as ecclesiology, liturgy and mariology. Other communities affiliated to restorationism have insoluble doctrinal differences with Catholic Christianity because their theology of the Holy Trinity is manifestly incompatible with the doctrine of the council of Nicea in the early Church.
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