Pope John himself spoke of an approach to reunion by degrees: approach, then coming together, and finally perfect unity. There are two things to be noted here.
The "approach" takes place on the basis of what we hold strongly in common. Our separated brethren are already brethren. There is already a deep communion, koinonia, between them and us; it is founded on one baptism, faith in one Lord, and love for him; and it is stronger and more important than anything that separates us. We are Christians, and they are Christians. "They too bear the name of Christ upon their foreheads, they read his holy and blessed Gospel, and they are not unreceptive to the stirrings of religious devotion and of active, beneficent love for their neighbor." What we need for reunion is that this communion which already exists should grow. What we need is that both sides should create more and more common ground between us, until at last what separates us becomes insignificant and full unity is a reality.
This "perfect unity" will not be uniformity. As Pope John has said, it will be unity in essentials, freedom in all else. It is quite unthinkable that after centuries of separation we could be reduced not only to a common denominator but to a single numerator. What we can have is unity in the sense of the living koinonia of the Scriptures, which is unity in diversity, unity in a variety of rites, languages, customs, modes of thought and action and prayer. Such unity is more perfect than uniformity.
The passage above truly reflects my views on ecumenism. In all religions of the world there are conflicts. The Orthodox and the Reformed Jews don't get along. Nor do Sunni and Shiite Muslims. What makes us any different? I am pleasantly aware that there has been more dialogue amongst Christians in recent years, but Christians still seem to be caught up in finding theological faults in each other. Christians must unite. Jesus wanted it to be so. But unity does not come about through hatred and misunderstanding. All Christians will never go to the same church, but they may see each other as valid Christians and join with them in standing up for what other people in secular society ignore like the unborn. Traditionally, Baptists and Catholics have not gotten along, but both groups are pro-life. Both sides must acknowledge this, and join together to stand up for the unborn. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
We are all Christians. God bless you all!!!!