Glossary, Abbs, Stats

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Basic Definitions

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Balamand Declaration: Declaration of the International Mixed Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, 23 June 1993.

Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (BEM) (Lima, Peru, 1982). Also known as the Lima Text. This famous text, adopted by Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches at its plenary commission meeting in Lima, Peru in 1982, explores the growing agreement – and remaining differences – in fundamental areas of the [Protestant] churches’ faith and life. The most widely-distributed and studied ecumenical document, BEM has been a basis for many “mutual recognition” agreements among churches and remains a reference today.

Busan, South Korea. The site of the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

Capetown 2010. Cape Town 2010 has been called the most representative gathering of Christian leaders in the 2000 year history of the Christian movement (Christianity Today).  Four-thousand Christian leaders representing 198 countries attended the Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.  The Congress was brought together by a globalized leadership team from Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, India, North America and elsewhere.  Several thousand more leaders participated in the Congress through the Cape Town GlobaLink, Cape Town Virtual Congress and Lausanne Global Conversation.

Communion. Some usual meanings:

  • Holy Communion: The act of sharing in the Eucharist (Latin “communicatio in sacris” or sharing in consecrated bread and wine) or “the Lord’s Supper” (Protestant). For Catholics, communion is only allowed to Catholics in a state of grace.
  • The expression “in full communion”: Two or more Christian Churches are said to be in full communion with one another when members of each body are welcome to receive sacraments from clergy of the other body(ies), and clergy of one denomination can be ministers of Word and Sacraments in another denomination. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern-rite Catholic Churches such as the Byzantine Catholic Church, are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
  • An international association of church bodies, such as “The Anglican Communion”.

Confession. At least two meanings:

  • A sacrament in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, whereby a penitent confesses his/her sins, and receives absolution or pardon from God.
  • A statement of doctrinal beliefs, such as the Augsburg Confession.

Denomination. An identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. Technically, divisions between one group and another are defined by doctrine and church authority. (Wikipedia)

Deposit [of Faith], Dogma, Doctrine, Disciplines, Devotions[See Hierachy of Truths below]. These are matters taken up in dialogues between official representatives of the Catholic Church and of other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities. David B. Currie in “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic,” divides Church teachings into five categories: deposit, dogma, doctrine, disciplines, and devotions.

  • Deposit [of Faith] is made up of those infallible teachings that Jesus gave to His Apostles. All deposit is part of Sacred Tradition; while some deposit is written down in Sacred Scripture. Deposit cannot be changed. That Jesus is present — Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity — in the Eucharist is an example of Deposit.
  • Dogma is made up of  those truths found in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, that have been reaffirmed by a Church council or the Pope. Dogma cannot contradict earlier Church teaching; but are declared to combat false teaching. The divinity of Christ and the Assumption of Mary are two examples.
  • Doctrine is the development of truth from Deposit and Dogma. Doctrine develops over time, and over time it can contradict itself. Theologians, professors, and authors develop doctrine. It is not declared true or false by the Church, but it can help us better understand Deposit and Dogma. Remember, the Pope and bishops, not theologians and college professors, are the final definers of doctrine.
  • Disciplines are those rules that govern the everyday life of faithful Catholics. They are established to enhance our spiritual lives and draw us closer to Christ. The Pope can and does change Disciplines when they are no longer effective in helping us worship God. Eating meat on Friday is an example of a Discipline.
  • Devotions are those activities a Catholic does to enhance their walk with God. They are never mandatory. The Rosary and Stations of the Cross are two examples of Devotions. They develop over time, they can change, but they are never mandated by the Church.

Dialogue. Coming together of representatives of different peoples or groups, to peacefully discuss differences among themselves in order to dispel misconceptions and misperceptions about nature, purpose, ways of life, belief systems and practices, and arrive, through improved understanding of differences and commonalities, at ways to attenuate or resolve conflicts and to foster good will and cooperation among themselves.

Eastern Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East are considered Eastern Christian denominations. Eastern Christian denominations are represented mostly in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. (Wikipedia)

Eastern Rite Catholic ChurchesThese 22 churches trace their roots to five ritual families or groups. They are:

•  Alexandrian: Coptic and Ethiopian churches.
•  Antiochene: Syro-Malankara, Syrian and Maronite.
• Armenian: Armenian Church.
• Byzantine: Albanian, Belarussion, Bulgarian, Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Italo-Albanian, Melkite, Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Yugoslavian churches.
•  Chaldean: Chaldean and Syro-Malabar churches.

Ecclesial (from the Latin ecclesia: church): Relating to or constituting a church or denomination.

Ecumenical DialogueEcumenical dialogues are official theological talks and discussions between two or more churches, either branches of the same church, or different churches altogether, aimed at overcoming the inherited divergences/differences, often doctrinal and church order, and principles that separate them. Ecumenical dialogues are guided for Catholics by Vatican II’s Decree in Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio), John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint, and the Directory For The Application Of Principles And Norms On Ecumenism.

False irenicism or false eirenism is an expression used in certain 20th-century documents of the Catholic Church to criticize attempts at ecumenism that would allow Catholic doctrine to be distorted or clouded. Documents using the term include the encyclical Humani Generis, promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950, and the Second Vatican Council‘s 1964 Decree on EcumenismUnitatis Redintegratio. (

Hierarchy of Truths“The Second Vatican Council taught that there is a hierarchy of truths within the body of Catholic doctrines. “When comparing doctrines with one another,” the council’s Decree on Ecumenism declared, “[Catholic theologians] should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists an order or ‘hierarchy’ of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith”. This means that not all official teachings of the Church are of equal importance…. There was an important ecumenical reason for the council’s introduction of this concept of a hierarchy of truths. When engaged in formal dialogue with non-Catholic Christians, the Catholic participants must not demand of the non-Catholics more than what the Gospel itself demands.” Fr. Richard P. McBrien.

Historical Black Churches. The main bodies are:

Interfaith or Interreligious Dialogue. Talks and discussions between two or more world religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.

KoinoniaThe essential meaning of the koinonia embraces concepts conveyed in the English terms community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy. (See full wikipedia definition)

Laity: The laity constitutes the mass of the living Church. It includes all Catholics who are not ordained and who are not members of a religious community.

Lausanne Movement. Since 1974, the Lausanne Movement has been focused on world evangelization with a mission statement of “The whole Church taking the whole Gospel to the whole World.” Over the past several decades, Lausanne has convened gatherings on a wide range of issues related to world evangelization.

Lay ecclesial ministry is the term adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to identify the relatively new category of pastoral ministers in the Catholic Church who serve the Church but are not ordained. Lay ecclesial ministers are coworkers with the bishop alongside priests and deacons. (Wikipedia)

Lima Text. See Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (BEM) above.

Mainline churches.

Metanoia (from Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary). Literally repentance or penance. The term is regularly used in the Greek New Testament, especially in the Gospels and the preaching of the Apostles. Repentance is shown by faith, baptism, confession of sins, and producing fruits worthy of penance. It means a change of heart from sin to the practice of virtue.

Orthodox Churches.

Pentecostal, Pentecostalism.

Ravenna Report.

Receptive ecumenism.

Schism. A division among major Christian Churches, a break of communion between branches of Christianity that were previously a single body.

Tradition. Among categories of discussion in dialogues. Tradition means literally a “handing on,” referring to the passing down of God’s revealed word. As such it has two closely related but distinct meanings. Tradition first means all of divine revelation, from the dawn of human history to the end of the apostolic age, as passed on from one generation of believers to the next, and as preserved under divine guidance by the Church established by Christ. Sacred Tradition more technically also means, within this transmitted revelation, that part of God’s revealed word which is not contained in Sacred Scripture. Referring specifically to how Christian tradition was handed on, the Second Vatican Council says: “It was done by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received–whether from the lips of Christ, from His way of life and His works, or whether they had learned it by the prompting of the Holy Spirit” (Constitution on Divine Revelation, II, 7).

Western Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church and the Churches issued from the Reformation comprise Western Christianity. Originally from western Europe, it was spread through colonization and missionary activities to North America, Latin American and the Caribbean, Africa, and Australasia.

World Council of Churches (WCC)

World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly

The assembly is the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC), and meets every seven years. It is a moment when the fellowship of member churches comes together as a whole in prayer and celebration.

The assembly has the mandate to review programmes, to issue public statements and determine the overall policies of the WCC, as well as to elect presidents and a Central Committee that oversees the council’s work until the next assembly.

Along with the WCC member churches, partner organizations and other churches have a strong presence at the event. This makes an assembly of the WCC the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world. It is a unique opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to visible unity and common witness so that world may believe.

Sharing from the diverse spiritual experiences of churches around the world is a powerful expression of unity shared in Christ. The spiritual life of each assembly – worship, Bible study and prayer – is a particular highlight.

The WCC was established at its 1st Assembly in Amsterdam, Netherlands (1948). Since then assemblies have been in held in Evanston, United States (1954); New Delhi, India (1961); Uppsala, Sweden (1968); Nairobi, Kenya (1975); Vancouver, Canada (1983); Canberra, Australia (1991); Harare, Zimbabwe (1998); and Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006), and Busan, South Korea (2013).

Names of people, documents and organizations [more to come]

Bea, Cardinal Agustino, SJ (28 May 1881 – 16 November 1968). He served as the first president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity from 1960 until his death. Bea was a leading biblical scholar and ecumenist, who greatly influenced relationships with other Christians and Jews in preparations for and during the Second Vatican Council in Unitatis Redintegratio and Nostra Aetate.

Benedict XVI, Pope. Pope emeritus of the Catholic Church, having served as Pope from 2005 to 2013. Benedict was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II.

BridgefolkA movement of sacramentally-minded Mennonites and peace-minded Roman Catholics who come together to celebrate each other’s traditions, explore each other’s practices, and honor each other’s contribution to the mission of Christ’s Church.

Cassidy, Cardinal Edward Idris. President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (1989-2000). In 1999, Cassidy was jointly responsible for the publication of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, widely received as a major ecumenical document between Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists.

Centro Pro Unione. Founded and directed by the Society of the Atonement, is an ecumenical research and action center. Its purpose is to give space for dialogue, to be a place for study, research and formation in ecumenism: theological, pastoral, social and spiritual.

Couturier, Abbé Paul (29 July 1881 – 24 March 1953) was a French priest and a promoter of the concept of Christian unity. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Focolare Movement. An international ecumenical and interfaith movement. It began in 1943 during the Second World War as a current of spiritual and social renewal. Its purpose: to work cooperatively to build a more united world, following the inspiration of Jesus’ prayer to the Father ‘May they all be one’ (Jn 17:21), respecting and valuing diversity. It focuses on dialogue as a method, has a constant commitment to building bridges and relationships of fraternity among individuals, peoples and cultural worlds. Persons of every age, vocation, religion, conviction and culture belong to the Focolare.

Francis, Pope (March 2013-). Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, on 13 March 2013 the papal conclave elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who chose the papal name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first from the Southern Hemisphere.

Franciscan Friars of AtonementHeadquartered at Graymoor in Garrison, New York, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement is a Roman Catholic religious community with social, ecumenical, and pastoral ministries in the United States, Canada, England, Italy, and Japan.

John XXIII, Pope (1958-1963). Elected on October 28,1958 at the age of 77. He assembled the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) but did not live to see it to completion. Also famous for his encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on earth), 1963, released shortly before his death on June 3, 1963.

John Paul II, Pope (1978-2005). Elected on 16 October 1978 and served until his death in 2005. The author of the encyclical on ecumenism Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One) 

Kasper, Cardinal WalterPresident of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 2000-2010. Click here for his major official speeches and writings.

Koch, Cardinal Kurt. President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity since 2011. Bishop emeritus of Basel, Switzerland. President of the Swiss Episcopal Conference from 2007 until 2010. He is a member of the Swiss Council of Religions.

Lubich, Chiara (1920-2008), Founder of the Focolare movement.

Nostra Aetate: The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. Its Chapter 4 is the foundation upon which today’s relations among Catholics and the Jewish people is based.

Paul VI, Pope (1963-1978). Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini was elected Pope on 21 June 1963 until his death in 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Orthodox and Protestants, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. Most Vatican II’s documents were promulgated by Pope Paul VI.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. One of the dicasteries of the Curia of the Roman Catholic Church. Assists the Pope in relations with other Christian churches and ecclesial bodies.

 The Second Vatican [Ecumenical] Council, known colloquially as Vatican II. Called by Pope John XXII, opened in 1965, and closed by Pope Paul VI in 1965. It brought many reforms into the Catholic Church, and is considered the most important religious event of the 20th century.

Documents of the Second Vatican Council

Unitatis Reintegratio: The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism

Ut Unum Sint (‘That they may be one) is an encyclical by Pope John Paul II of May 25, 1995 on the Catholic Church’s irrevocable commitment to Ecumenism.

Wattson, Fr. Paul. Formerly an Anglican priest who founded the Friars of Atonement. A pioneer in promoting ecumenical relations among Christians.

The World Council of Churches (WCC)The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. At the end of 2012, there were 345 member churches. While the bulk of the WCC’s founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.

Abbreviations (more to come)

ARCIC: Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission

BEM: Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (Lima, Peru, 1982) PDF text at BEM_Lima_FO1982

CADEIO: Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers

CCT: Christian Churches Together

CU: Christian Unity

DAPNE: Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism

DEIODiocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer

DoSA: Diocese of Saint Augustine, Florida

ELCA: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

JDDJ: Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church in 1999 and associated with by the World Methodist Council in 2006)

LARC: Lutheran – Anglican – Roman Catholic (Covenant signed by bishops in Central Pennsylvania LARC.

LARCUM: Lutheran – Anglican – Roman Catholic -United Methodist (Covenants signed by bishops in South Carolina, Virginia)

LWF: Lutheran World Federation

NCC: National Council of Churches

PCPCU: Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

RC: Roman Catholic. See Holy See; US Conference of Catholic Bishops

STD: Sacred Theology Doctor

UMC: United Methodist Church

UR: Unitatis Reintegratio (Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism)

USCCB: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

UUS: Ut Unum Sint (Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on Christian Unity, That They Be One)

WCC: World Council of Churches

WLF: World Lutheran Federation

WMC: World Methodist Council

Statistics [more to come]

Major Religious Traditions in the USA

Religious Affiliations in the USA (by percentage)

The 15 Largest Protestant Denominations in the United States (2013)