The Catholic University of America

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

An inventory of Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Records at The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives


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Mailing Address: The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 20064

Telephone: 202-319-5065

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Descriptive Summary

Repository: The American Catholic Research Center and University Archives
Creator: USCCB
Title: USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Records
Dates: 1955(1955-1997)2007
Extent: 10 linear feet; 13 boxes
Abstract: One outcome of the 1966 transition of the National Catholic Welfare Council into the NCCB and USCC was an enhancement of ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and U.S. National Council of Churches which resulted in a new working partnership. The NCC is an interdenominational body that facilitates broad discourse among members to emphasize inclusiveness and inter-religious dialog intertwined with social action. This collection primarily chronicles the NCCB's relations in the 1960's and 1970's with the alliance of state NCC chapters whose goal was to maintain an open dialog between Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Jewish faiths. It also contains information on inter-religious affairs with the YMCA, Lutheran-Catholic Dialog and relations with the Jewish community. While the international materials mostly pertain to Catholic-Anglican relations in the 1970s, there are some indicators as to how the worldwide ecumenical movement evolved into a forum for peace and social justice after Vatican II.
Collection Number: 10
Language: English

Historical Note

Following the Vatican II Council, the bishops reorganized the National Catholic Welfare Council in 1966, transforming it into the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and its standing secretariat, the United States Catholic Conference (USCC). Prior to the restructuring, inter-religious dialog was overseen by the Bishops' Commission for Ecumenical Affairs who managed individual conversations with the various denominations through a series of subcommissions. According to the 1966 NCWC Annual Report, Bishop Flanagan was the liaison to Archbishop Iakovos of the Standing Commission of Orthodox Bishops. Bishop Helmsing was assigned to the Catholic-Anglican conversation with the protestant Episcopal Church, and Bishop Murphy to dialog with the Lutheran Church. It is also worth noting that the Bishop's Commission also conversed with denominations composed of smaller congregations and/or those lacking an episcopate altogether.

One of the more influential subcommissions was a committee of eight, chaired by Bishop John J. Carberry who served as representatives to the National Council of the Churches. Carberry, who had just replaced the outgoing Archbishop Shehan as Chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Ecumenical Affairs, and his team attended a January 25, 1966 meeting with the NCC that signaled for a new framework of coordinated ecumenical partnerships at the diocesan level. This appeared to mobilize the NCC to deepen its commitment to interfaith dialog and to find new ways of involving the US Catholic Church.

This was a significant moment, for in the mid-20th century, the NCC was perhaps the most recognized inter-denominational forum in the US. It had played a prominent role in facilitating the civil rights movement and was well-positioned to meld the assorted ecumenical and inter-religious dialogs into a broader message of peace and social justice. Here it is fairly easy to infer that the various clergy who had worked for civil rights were interested in finding a means to build upon their successes. So the NCC provided a ready-made network and the ideal venue for the Bishop's Commission to implement the Second Vatican Council Decree on Ecumenism in the U.S. While these external relations continued to ramp up, the Bishop's Commission's internal purview would soon feel the impacts of a reorganized NCWC later that year as depicted below.

"As separate organizations with distinct responsibilities, the NCCB focused on internal ecclesiastical concerns while the USCC carried forward work in society at large. The NCCB enabled the bishops to deliberate and respond collectively on a broad range of issues, with work being supervised by the Office of the General Secretary and carried out through various secretariats as well as standing and ad hoc committees." The USCC included clergy, religious, and lay people who developed public policy and programs for approval by the Administrative Board and the bishops for implementation by the various departments."

In hindsight, this excerpt from the finding aid to the USCCB/ Office of the General Secretary provides some indication that the Vatican II decree would expand the scope of ecumenism into something far greater than had been previously understood. While this had global ramifications, in the US it posed a considerable sea-change to the executive authority of the Bishops Commission for Ecumenical Affairs with effects that lasted for years after the 1966 reorganization. Today the NCCB and the USCC have been re-combined to form the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) consisting of the same staff continuing the work formerly done by the NCCB and the USCC. Accordingly the Bishop's Commission for Ecumenical Affairs lives on as the USCCB Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs.

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Scope and Contents

The USCCB Ecumenical Collection is an informal chronicle of the post-Vatican II trend toward pastoral ministry and renewed interfaith dialog during the 1960's and 1970's. It contains a series of documents, pamphlets and news clippings which collectively provide a view into the worldwide ecumenical movement during a dynamic period in geo-politics when many newly independent countries entered the international stage. That said, the bulk of the material relates to ecumenical activity in the US on the part of Catholic bishops acting in concert with the National Council of Churches. Though there is little that reveals the inner workings of the NCCB, the collection provides some indication that improvements in Catholic-Protestant dialog during the mid to late- 20th century enabled the scope of Christian unity to develop into a force less visibly doctrinaire and increasingly devoted to social action (see boxes 1 -2). For example, continuing interest in the 19th century theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman among Anglicans and Catholics alike provide a view into the broad ecumenical re-alignment that took shape in the 1960's.

As mentioned, the collection reveals a good deal about the structure of inter-religious discourse in the US. One notable example is the file on the removal of faith based restrictions to YMCA membership (located in box 2) which suggests that the 1966 partition of the NCWC yielded some immediate results due to the USCC's role in resolving this longstanding issue. Further evidence of the partition's early success is epitomized by a coordinated effort between the newly empowered NCCB and the National Council of the Churches of Christ to facilitate ecumenical relations. Here, boxes 3 and 4 reveal that the NCCB and the NCC, who also count Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Eastern Orthodox among their membership, were actively fostering a diocesan level ecumenism by 1967. A series of coordinated state-level conferences were held that appear to have been effective in galvanizing various diocesan bishops, both Roman Catholic and non-Roman, to address broader inter-religious concerns. This is reflected though documents that depict a network of state NCC chapters organized through state articles of incorporation. This provided an ecumenical platform that eventually led to the engagement of cooperative service programs to encourage interdenominational lay participation. Though this partnership sowed considerable seed for the ecumenical movement during the 1970's, it is also worth noting that the NCC was not the only corporate body facilitating ecumenism in the US. The World Council of Churches, another well-known inter-religious organization devoted to social action, was also quite active during this time. That said, most indications in the collection suggest that the NCC remained the ecumenical organization of choice for the NCCB, who perhaps saw it as the most acceptable vehicle to propel community relations under the new Vatican II mandate.

It is also worth mentioning that the Anglican Church in England and its affiliated worldwide Anglican Communion was also active in promoting ecumenism. The ACE had sent observers to Rome for the Second Vatican Council which paved the way for future communication in years to come. This may help explain Boxes 5 and 6 which contain the international files on ecumenical activities in approximately one dozen countries. These mainly consist of published bulletins yet offer some insights on pastoral ministry and Catholic - Anglican dialog during the 1970's, including some reference to Ireland. There is also an extensive file on Catholic - Anglican relations in Canada. What is not contained in the collection are any references to Catholic-Anglican dialog in the U.S.

Today, some four decades later, the scope of this collection suggests that the greater legacy of this "new era" of Christian ecumenism and interfaith dialog was a strategic refocusing among Judeo-Christian bodies away from the task of rebuilding post-WWII Europe and toward a sustained effort to seek doctrinal common ground during the lingering Cold War. Further evidence of inter-denominational discourse may be found in the 1989-1990 Lutheran-Catholic Dialog located in Series 2.

The Addendum is Box 9 - PCPCU Plenaria, 1966-2007; Box 10 - Vatican Secretariat for Human Values, Reorganization of the Curia: Pastor Bonus, 1966-1992; Box 11- ARCIC, 1970 Venice to ARCIC II 1983, 1966-1983; Box 12 - Caucus of Catholic Ecumenists to Churches Uniteing for General Mission (CUGM), 1966-1980; and Box 13 - Pontifical Mission under Vatican to PCPCU Planaria, 1965-1970.

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Arrangement

The USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs records consists of 2 Series:




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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

25 years or living persons

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Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Donated in 2002 by the office's administrative assistant Jamie Reddington. Additional material in 2016 from USCCB.

Processing Information

Processing completed in July 2012 by Carter Rawson. EAD markup completed in July 2012 by Carter Rawson. Revised by William John Shepherd in March 2016.

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Related Material

Luigi Ligutti - Vatican Council II Collection

Frederick Richard McManus Papers

James J. Norris - Vatican Council II Collection

Patrick O'Boyle - Vatican Council II Collection

Ernest J. Primeau - Vatican Council II Collection

USCCB Executive Department/Office of the General Secretayr (OGS) Records

Related Material at other Institutions

Hellenic College

Lambeth Palace Library Archives

Nashotah Theological Seminary

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.


Persons:
Carberry, John Joseph, 1904-1998 (Bishop)
Dearden, Cardinal
Iakovos, Abp. of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.
O'Boyle, Patrick, 1896-1987 (Abp of Washington, Cardinal)
Pope Paul VI, 1897-1978
Ramsey, Michael, 1904-1988 (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1961-1974)
Shehan, Lawrence, Cardinal, 1898-?

Organizations:
Anglican Church
Lutheran Church
Methodist Church
National Council of Churches of Christ
Orthodox Eastern Church
YMCA

Places:
Canada
Philadelphia, PA
Rome
United Kingdom
Washington D.C.

Subjects:
Anglican Communion
Anglo Catholics
Catholic Jewish Relations
Church of England. Commission on Roman Catholic Relations
Ecumenists
National Pastoral Council
Pastoral Ministry
Secretariat of Christian Unity


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Bibliography

Capuchin, Zeno; John Henry Newman - His Inner Life; Ignatius Press, S.F., CA. 1987

Cassidy, Edward Idris; Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue-Unitatis Reintegratio, Nostra Aetate; Paulist Press, Mahwah NJ, 2005

Constantelos, Demtrios J. (ed.); The Complete Works of Archbishop Iakovos, Vol 1-4; Hellenic College Press, 2002

Findlay, James F; Church People in the Struggle: the National Council of Churches and the Black Freedom Movement, 1950-1970; Oxford University Press; New York, NY, 1993

Lupkin, Paula; Manhood Factories: YMCA Architecture and the Making of Modern Urban Culture; University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN. 2010

Merton, Thomas; Seven Story Mountain; Harcourt/Mariner Books, New York, NY. 1999

Ramsey, Michael; The Gospel and the Catholic Church; Hendrickson Publishers; Peabody, MA. 2009 (reprint)

Ratzinger, Joseph (Pope Benedict XVI Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology; Ignatius Press; S.F, CA. 2008

Second Vatican Council Decree on Ecumenism, November 21, 1964

National Catholic Welfare Council Annual Reports, 1966

United States Catholic Conference Annual Report, 1967

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Detailed Description of the Collection

                       
Series 1:Inter-Religious Affairs 1955-1997 (6 boxes)
Six boxes of administrative files, brochures and news clippings relating to interfaith outreach from the 1960's - 1980's. Boxes 1-2 contain multiple documents pertaining to inter-religious affairs ranging from dialogs with Jewish and Eastern Orthodox Christian groups to Catholic relations with the YMCA. Boxes 3-4 chronicle the development of state-level NCC conferences aimed at facilitating ecumenical dialog in the U.S. at the diocesan level. Boxes 5 and 6 date from the same era and contain numerous international conference pamphlets documenting the evolution of the world-wide ecumenical movement.
Box Folder
1 1 RIAL - Religion in American Life, 1977-1979
  2 Statistics for Religion, 1985-1992
  3 St. Paul School of Theology (Methodist), Kansas City, 1966
  4 Salvation Army, 1980
  5 SCOBA: Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, 1977-1979
  6 Society of Jesuit Ecumenists, 1974-1976
  7 SODEPAX- Committee on Society, Development and Peace: Church Alert (newsletters), 1976-1980
Box Folder
2 1 Spiritual Life Institute of America, Sedona, AZ, 1962-1972
  2 Synagogue Council of America, 1976
  3 Technoserve, Inc, n.d.
  4 Texas Conference of Churches Address and Monastic Symposium, 1971,1981
  5 UCELAM - Christian Union for Evangelization of Latins in America, 1980-1984
  6 Washington Theological Coalition Seminar, 1977
  7 YMCA, 1955-1969
Box Folder
3 1 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies (General), 1966, 1979-1980, 1998
  2 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies - AL, AK, AR, CO., 1977-1985
  3 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- CT, 1978-1980
  4 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- ID, IL, IA, 1966-1977
  5 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- KS, MO, 1967-1977
  6 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- KY, 1966,1983-1985
  7 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- LA, 1968-1971,1983
  8 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- MI, MT, ND, 1972-1977, 1985
  9 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- New England [1], 1967-1969, 1977-1986
  10 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- New England [2], 1968-1971
  11 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- NJ, 1977-1981
  12 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- Dutchess County, NY, 1972-1974, 1980-1986
Box Folder
4 1 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- Buffalo, NY, 1977-1980
  2 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- NC, 1985-1986
  3 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- OH, OK, 1964, 1968-1980
  4 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- PA, 1974-1983
  5 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- TN, 1972-1974, 1982
  6 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- TX, 1969-1979
  7 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- VA, WV, 1977-1980
  8 State and Diocesan Councils of Churches and Agencies- WA, WY, 1967, 1979
        test
  9 Roman Catholic Membership in Councils of Churches and Agencies, 1966
Box Folder
5 1 Ecumenical Membership, 1980-1996
  2 World Ecumenism - Australia, 1967-1974
  3 World Ecumenism - Canada, 1968-1979, 1985
  4 World Ecumenism - France, 1976-1979
  5 World Ecumenism - Germany, 1966-1968, 1976
  6 World Ecumenism - Italy, 1975
Box Folder
6 1 World Ecumenism - India, 1978
  2 World Ecumenism - Lebanon, 1978
  3 World Ecumenism - Nigeria, 1968-1979
  4 World Ecumenism - Scandinavia, 1965-1968
  5 World Ecumenism - Spain and Portugal, 1965-1967,1974,1979-1980
  6 Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, 1965-1968, 1980-1983
  7 U.K, 1964-1966, 1972-1980
  8 Miscellaneous, 1965-1984
                       
Series 2: Lutheran-Catholic Common Statement 1989-1997 (2 boxes)
The second series mainly documents a Lutheran-Catholic dialog (1989-1990) for the purposes of drafting a Common Statement. It contains a number of draft iterations subsequent to a 1989 conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Box Folder
7 1 Inter-Religious Dialog - Monastic, 1988-1997
  2 Inter-Religious Dialog - Archdiocese of Denver, September 21-22, 1997
  3 Inter-Religious Dialog: Lutheran-Catholic conference: "The One Mediator, The Saints and Mary" Common Statement Draft [1], 1989
  4 Inter-Religious Dialog: Lutheran-Catholic conference: "The One Mediator, The Saints and Mary" Common Statement Draft [2], 1989
Box Folder
8 1 Inter-Religious Dialog: Lutheran-Catholic: "The One Mediator, The Saints and Mary" Common Statement Draft (with comments)" [1], 1989-1990
  2 Inter-Religious Dialog: Lutheran-Catholic: "The One Mediator, The Saints and Mary" Common Statement Draft (with comments)" [2], 1989-1990
  3 Inter-Religious Dialog: Lutheran-Catholic: " The One Mediator, The Saints and Mary" Common Statement Draft revisions [1], 1990
  4 Inter-Religious Dialog: Lutheran-Catholic: " The One Mediator, The Saints and Mary" Common Statement Draft revisions [2], 1990
                       
Series 3: Addendum, 1966(1966-1992)2007 (5 boxes)
A range of topics, including PCPCU Plenaria, Vatican Secretariat for Human Values, Reorganization of the Curia, ARCIC, Caucus of Catholic Ecumenists to Churches Uniteing for General Mission, and Pontifical Mission under Vatican to PCPCU Planaria.
Box  
9   PCPCU Plenaria, 1966(1966-1992)2007
Box  
10   Vatican Secretariat for Human Values, Reorganization of the Curia: Pastor Bonus, 1966-1992
Box  
11   ARCIC, 1970 Venice to ARCIC II, 1966-1983
Box  
12   Caucus of Catholic Ecumenists to Churches Uniteing for General Mission (CUGM), 1966-1980
Box  
13   Pontifical Mission under Vatican to PCPCU Planaria, 1965-1970

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Historical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Administrative Information

Related Material

Index Terms

Bibliography

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1:Inter-Religious Affairs 1955-1997

Series 2: Lutheran-Catholic Common Statement 1989-1997

Series 3: Addendum, 1966(1966-1992)2007

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