71 Jurist 59 (2011)
Seeing in a New Light: From Remembering to Reforming in Ecumenical Dialogue

handle is hein.journals/juristcu71 and id is 63 raw text is: THE JURIST 71 (2011) 59-76

SEEING IN A NEW LIGHT: FROM REMEMBERING TO
REFORMING IN ECUMENICAL DIALOGUE
MARGARET O'GARA*
Ecumenism is a means of reforming the Church, and such reform is
made possible in part when history is seen in a new way. The Joint Dec-
laration on the Doctrine of Justification speaks of seeing once-divisive
questions and condemnations in a new light.'1 By shining this new light
into the darkness of past disputes about justification, Catholics and
Lutherans were able to see these past disputes more clearly and to over-
come the divisions they caused. Here, remembering became a means of
reform.
1. Reflecting on Remembering Together
While it may seem obvious, the part played in ecumenical dialogue by
a new common view of history is not always noticed or discussed. But
some agreed statements include actual comments on the process of re-
membering history together and the transformation that results. For ex-
ample, the report of the International Dialogue between the Catholic
Church and the Mennonite World Conference explains how members
reread certain periods of church history together in an atmosphere of
openness that was invaluable.2 Such openness allowed a broader view
of Christian history and counteracted the loss of perspective resulting
from centuries of separation. Commission members write, Our com-
mon rereading of the history of the church will hopefully contribute to
the development of a common interpretation of the past. This can lead to
a shared new memory and understanding. In turn, a shared new memory
can free us from the prison of the past.'3 And the Joint Declaration on the
Doctrine of Justification of the Lutheran World Federation and the
Roman Catholic Church explains that, when their churches overcome
earlier controversial questions and doctrinal condemnations, they nei-
* Faculty of Theology, University of St. Michael's College, Toronto
Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church, Joint Declaration on
the Doctrine of Justification (Grand Rapids, MI & Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans, 1999) #7.
2 International Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Mennonite World
Conference, Called Together To Be Peacemakers, www.bridgefolk.net/calledtogether.
htm, #26.
' Ibid., #27.

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