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CHICAGO STUDIES

the vicious circle. The excessively negative and conservative spirit of some ecclesiastical bureaucrats, while designed to keep the situation under control, is actually having the reverse effect. It only produces impatience with the official Church. It might be more prudent, at the present juncture, deliberatively to encourage ventures involving new ecumenical experiences. It would seem desirable for small and official groups to work out fresh forms of encounter without¡ being forced to go underground or to separate themselves from their respective churches. In this way the fruits of such experimentation could be fed back into the existing structures so as gradually to transform them. It is not my intention to propose any specific program, but merely to make the point that the times in which we live would seem to call for imaginative ideas, pluralism, and initiative. If these qualities are not encouraged in the churches, the men possessing these qualities will drift outside. ¡ Our task then, is to steer clear of both denominational and ecumenical indifferentism. We must neither idolize the present denominational structures of the churches nor seek to behave as if they did not exist. Taking a realistic view of the present situation, and beginning where we actually are, we must seek to move responsibly forward. In this effort we can make excellent use of the theology which came to expression in the documents of Vatican II, including very definitely its Decree on Ecumenism. But the documents themselves make no pretense to being the unsurpassable last word on the subject. They must be read with a sense of history, of development, and of openness to future possibilities. The Decree on Ecumenism, in its closing paragraph, encouraged Catholics to "go forward without obstructing the ways of divine Providence and without prejudging the future inspirations of the Holy Spirit" (p. 365). In this forward movement of the Church into the future which God is preparing for it, the clergy have a special responsibility for leadership. They ought not to think of .themselves primalily as policemen, issuing prohibitions and condemnations of false moves. The recent Vatican Council made it clear

Profile for Chicago Studies

Spring 1969  

Volume 8:1

Spring 1969  

Volume 8:1

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