Receptive Ecumenism is one of the new movements within the ecumenical scene but hardly a new phenomena. When I was 19 I was invited to be part of a World Council of Churches discussion group in Bristol on the theme of 'Giving account of the hope that is in us'. The experience of hearing what other Christians understood by hope started a process of seeing how I could incorporate into my spirituality the insights of others that I experienced as being of value. Many others have had similar experiences and it is that fact that has been taken up in recent years and turned into a project. That project has been largely led by Durham University and the work of Professor Paul Murray. It has been adopted with some enthusiasm by the Roman Catholic Church as well as other ecumenical partners. The project in Durham has had three specific areas of focus including, for example, looking at what different traditions in the North East of England have done in the area of leadership and whether one tradition can learn from another. Centre for Catholic Studies : Receptive Ecumenism - Durham University
The scope of the conference is to explore the international dimension of Receptive Ecumenism but this has done much more than simply extend the discussion geographically. Plenary sessions have received input from people from various continents which leads to the realisation that in widely diferent cultural backgrounds of the Church the issues vary widely. In some cultures the role of women is far more significant an aspect of the objective of RE than in the UK. In other cultures the perspective of the church in a place that has largely been unaffected by the enlightennment debates we are so familar with in the West brings another perspective to the way in which RE works not simply between churches in the same locality but across international boundaries. I was particularly interested in what we might be able to learn from the work of the Asian Bishops writing in relation to Buddhism and its connection, for us, with the kind of paradigm shift we need to make from a Newtonian to an Einsteinian way of thinking and its implications for ecumenism in possibly shifting us to anew pardigmatic way of thinking that might create a whole new set of priorities and perspectives.
Similarly, as an example of a different area of focus, input and discussion in one of the parallel sessions was focussed on the philosopical dimension of Pope Benedict's work on the two loves, Eros and Agape and how the subtle development in thinking within the Catholic Church about the relationship between the two contributes to Receptive Ecumenism.
Probably the main set of questions for me relate to how the very fruitful and fascinating work that is done at events such as what happens here connects with the life of the local church or indeed the individual spirituality of any member of one of our churches. In one sense the basic principle of RE is remarkably simple and easy to put into practice but its application within the policy development, for example, of our churches remains highly problematic and challenging; but what is life without challenges!?