Unitatis Redintegratio is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism. It was passed by a vote of 2,137 to 11 of the bishops assembled and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964. The title in Latin means "Restoration of Unity" and is from the first line of the decree, as is customary with major Catholic documents (see incipit).
The numbers given correspond to the section numbers within the text.
Policy on the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox
Unitatis Redintegratio calls for the reunion of Christendom and so it is not terribly different from previous calls for unity by Pope Leo XIII in the 1894 encyclical Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae. However, the document articulates a different kind of ecclesiology than Praeclara, focusing on the unity of the people of God and on separate Christian brethren instead of a classical call for schismatics to return to the fold under the unity of the Vicar of Christ.
The document acknowledges that there are serious problems facing prospects of reunion with Reformation communities that make no attempt to claim apostolic succession such as the Anglican communion does. Ecclesial communities that adhere to calvinism are a particular case because they often have important doctrinal differences on key issues such as ecclesiology, liturgy and mariology. Other communities have insoluble doctrinal differences with Catholic Christianity because their theology of the Holy Trinity is manifestly incompatible with the doctrine of the council of Nicea in the early Church. That these serious problems are a barrier to salvation is clarified in the 2004 Vatican document, "The Decree on Ecumenism, Read Anew after Forty Years".
First officially used by the Roman Catholic Church in the Unitatis Redintegratio, "Separated brethren" is a term sometimes used by the Roman Catholic Church and its clergy and members to refer to baptized members of other Christian traditions. Though also applied to Christians of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, the term is more often used about Protestants and Anglicans. The phrase is a translation of the Latin phrase fratres seiuncti.
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