The way to unity between the Christian churches is another priority for Jesuits.

This was already the case at the very beginning of the Society of Jesus. Peter Faber (canonized by Pope Francis in December 2013), one of the first companions of St. Ignatius was sent several times to Germany to meet the Reformers, a mission he held close to heart.

The Society of Jesus contributes to this cause through academic research and teaching (e.g. the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome), as well as through local actions (e.g. the Chapel for Europe in Brussels).

The European Jesuit ecumenists meet biennially for a weekly session dedicated to studying and sharing on a chosen theme.

Conference of the International Society of Jesuit Ecumenists, July 2017. Jesuits from Sweden, United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and Slovakia, gathered with others from Asia, the Middle East, and North America at Centro Ad Gentes in the Roman hills for the 24th Conference of the International Society of Jesuit Ecumenists.   This informal group of Jesuits working in all sectors of Jesuit ministry gathers ever two years for a week of discussion and sharing information about the work of rebuilding Christian unity through fostering friendship and practical cooperation between Christians.    In this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, this year’s conference focused not only on the split in Western Christianity, but also relations between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches following the troubled Pan-Orthodox Council held in Crete in 2016, the current situation of Middle Eastern Christians.  The topics discussed included theological discussions but also the pastoral realities of Catholics living with other Christians in a range of situations ranging from Sweden to Japan, Russia and South India. At the same time that Christianity appears to be on the wane in many sectors of Europe, it continues to grow and give birth to new forms of life and action, in Africa, India and China. Traditionally Catholic countries in Latin America have seen a rapid rise in conversations to Pentecostalism and Evangelical Christiantiy.  Along with Pope Francis’ encouragement of local pastoral and social cooperation, all these factors mean that the search for Christian unity is an urgent and rapidly shifting reality, in which Jesuits will need to continue to contribute and collaborate. The 25th Anniversary Conference of the International Society of Jesuit Ecumenists will take place in Ireland in July 2019. For information and updates, contact Tom Layden SJ,
Jesuit Ecumenists’ Congress July 10-15, 2017, “Ad gentes” Centre, Nemi lake district, by Rome Dear Jesuit companions in the Lord, The next Jesuit Ecumenists’ Congress whose venue is “Ad Gentes” Centre in Nemi by Rome is going to be held on July 10-15, 2017. The last biennial Congress held in Vienna in July of 2015 decided this because 2017 marks several stations in which the ecumenist must tarry. Martin Luther appended his theses on the Wittenberg castle door in 1517; and the Moscow Synod of 1917-1918 took momentous decisions still relevant today. In Crete last year (2016) the Pan-Orthodox Synod was held which many Orthodox see in continuity with the last ecumenical Synod they recognize, that of Nicaea I (787). This evokes the many questions the breakup between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches raised. As for the Lutheran crisis one can only shake one’s head in disbelief that it took such a long time in coming. The gravamina had been piling up and the writing on the wall was clear. Lateran V (1517), though it pronounced in favour of serious reform, failed dismally to take up the bull by the horns. When later that year Luther’s protests blew up ecclesial complacency into smithereens, a triangle of pressure was formed, for Protestants were eager to win the Orthodox who had earlier broken off to their side, with the result that, while the Orthodox did not join, it became fashionable for the latter  to argue with the Protestants against the Catholics and with Catholics against the Protestants. The Moscow Synod took place with the echoing of Bolshevik guns as a background: the Moscow patriarchate was resurrected from the deepfreeze in which Peter the Great had put it (1728) and a series of very significant reforms were agreed upon and attained new significance after the deep freeze of 70 years of atheist rule. Much of what happened then still conditions the mind and heart of Russian Orthodoxy. The tensions between Constantinople and Moscow are an object lesson on how Orthodoxy functions, although some of the bounce was back in the Chieti agreement of the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Plenary Session in September of 2016.  In 2025 we shall have the 17th Centenary celebrations of the first ecumenical council, that of Nicea I (325), which after more than half a century of turbulence was to prove to be the touchstone of ecclesial orthodoxy and stability. These momentous historical themes invite us to look at them from a different perspective to try and spot God’s hand – finger, is the Ignatian term, which he took from Ex  – in the whole process. Enriched with the lessons they transmit we can face the pending ecumenical challenges with greater ecumenical clarity and confidence. As Jesuit ecumenists it is incumbent on us to review these events critically and self-critically, but also with a sense of awe and gratitude that God is always ready at hand. For the above-mentioned reasons the Jesuit ecumenists during the Vienna Congress thought fit to hold their next congress there where all roads meet, Rome, and to analyse them in the light of Ignatius’ insights for a time of crisis and councils. This perspective is often lacking, which is why history with its errors threatens to repeat itself. Against this, the Nemi Congress can prove useful. As has been our wont as of a decade when we have a given central theme for a Congress one can guarantee its smooth functioning by asking individuals to give a certain paper to make sure that all essential elements are covered. Attached is the plan as it stands thus far, with a list of the speakers and their themes. There is still room for volunteers to offer a paper or a communication, which may or may not be on the main theme. We have tried to ask both seasoned ecumenists as young Jesuits – but more are welcome. Ecumenism must be kept alive not by artificial respiration, but by conviction, determination and prayer. May I add that an excursion is planned for less frequented Ignatian places and others related to the themes  related to the problems we shall be discussing. Rome has been chosen especially in case V. Rev. Fr. General is in a position to receive us during the session; a petition in this sense has already been addressed to him. Sincerely Yours in the service of the Church and of the Society Edward G. Farrugia, SJ, Secretary,In the name of Dorian Llwelyn, President, and Markus Schmidt, member of the preparatory commission of the Jesuit Ecumenists Congress. Download the agenda of the Congress