- On June 5, 1960, Pope John XXIII established the “Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity” as one of the preparatory commissions for the Second Vatican council because he wanted the Catholic Church to be involved with the contemporary ecumenical movement; Cardinal Augustin Bea was appointed its first President.
At first, the main function of the Secretariat was to invite the other Churches and World Communions to send observers to the Second Vatican Council.
The Secretariat prepared and presented to the Council documents on ecumenism, non-Christian religions, religious liberty with the doctrinal commission, the dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.
Two sections of the document deal with:
The Eastern Churches: Orthodox Churches and ancient Oriental Churches
The Western Churches and Ecclesial Communities and for the World Council of Churches.
Mysterium Fidei: Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the holy eucharist
September 3, 1965
13. And so…the hope to which the Council has given rise—that a new wave of Eucharistic devotion will sweep over the Church…Christ sacramentally present in the sacrifice of the mass…
34. “…The Lord is immolated in an unbloody way in the Sacrifice of the Mass and He re-presents the sacrifice of the Cross and applies its salvific power at the moment when he becomes sacramentally present—through the words of consecration—as the spiritual food of
the faithful, under the appearances of bread and wine.
39. This presence is called “real”…because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man. (41)
Christ present in the eucharist through transubstantiation
46.“…[the] Church…assures us that the way in which Christ becomes present in this Sacrament is through the conversion of the whole
substance of the bread into His body and of the whole substance of the wine into His blood…that the Catholic Church fittingly and properly calls transubstantiation. (51)
Dignity Bestowed by Eucharist
68. “…the Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories to serve as the spiritual center of a religious community or a parish community, indeed of the whole Church and the whole of mankind…
A Sign and Cause of Unity
70. “…the Sacrament of the Eucharist is a sign and cause of the unity of Christ’s Mystical Body, and because it stirs up an active “ecclesial” spirit in those who are more fervent in their Eucharistic devotion…
The Tridentine Decree
72. The Church in the past has felt and still feels that nothing is more ancient and more pleasing than the desire for the unity of all Christians…
73. “…that we may all celebrate the Eucharistic Mystery with one voice and one faith, and through sharing in the Body of Christ become one body…
Given at St. Peter’s, Rome, on the third day of September, the feast of Pope St. Pius X, in the year 1965, the third of Our Pontificate: PAUL VI
- June 28, 1988, Pope John Paul II changed the Secretariat into the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU); this new designation took effect as of 1st March 1989.
The Council promotes both an authentic ecumenical spirit within the Catholic Church and develops dialogue and collaboration with the other Churches and World Communions.
Since its creation, it has also established a cordial cooperation with
the World Council of Churches (WCC)…From 1968, twelve
Catholic theologians have been members of the “Faith and Order” Commission, the theological department of the WCC.
Similarly, it is the task of the PCPCU to name Catholic observers at various ecumenical gatherings and in its turn to invite observers or “fraternal delegates” of other Churches or ecclesial Communities to major events of the Catholic Church…
At present, the PCPCU is engaged in an international theological dialogue with each of the following Churches
and World Communions:
The Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Malankara churches;
Anglican Communion, Lutheran World Federation, The World Alliance of Reformed Churches, The World Methodist Council,
The Baptist World Alliance, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Some Pentecostal groups.
The Council also seeks to promote meetings with Evangelicals.