Definitions: "true ecumenism" and "false ecumenism"

Does anyone have a concise definition of the two types of ecumenism?

I know that false ecumenism (loosely), could be any one, or more, of the following:
*]the “acceptance” of false religions as having elements of truth (and ignoring, or placing less emphasis on, the elements of false-ness)
*]“as long as you believe in Jesus Christ, then you’re ok”
*]“Catholicism is just one way to Heaven”.

And true ecumenism would be:
*]accepting that we all have free will, and as such, can follow any path to heaven or hell that we like
*]if we want to be sure of following the right path to heaven, then the only way is Catholicism, undiluted
*]its possible to get to heaven, if you aren’t officially a Catholic, but it would be in spite of your official religion, rather than because of it. Whereas if a Catholic were to get to heaven, then it would be because of his religion, and the graces channelled through to his soul through his religion.
*]Dialogue is fine, but Catholics should leave no doubt, ever, that anything other than Catholicism is anything better than false. Like, its ok to say “yes we believe in the same God”, but instead of wasting time and energy on “wow, we believe that too!”, we should be focussing on convincing people that, where the difference arise, the Catholic way is the only way.

Has anyone got more concise, more exact, more complete definitions?

The reason I am asking, is because I know someone who knows someone with connections to the Taize community, and after reading bits and pieces about it, I smell a rat. I just want to have things set straight in my head, if a discussion where to come up.

Thanks in advance.

In regards to Catholic ecumenism, it must first be noted that the term only refers to relations with Baptized non-Catholics, not with non-Christians. The purpose of ecumenism is so that all the Baptized who desire to profess their faith in Christ will partake of Catholic unity (that of faith and governance), a unity that the Catholic Church can never lose. It also, however, can refer to certain joint efforts such as defending the natural law, etc.

False ecumenism, rather than seeking to unite all in the fullness of truth, seeks to create a false unity which is rather a “being together” based on the lowest common denominator which compromises truth (instead of professing the totality of the deposit of faith with one voice).

Read Unitatis Redintegratio:

and Nostra Aetate:

I think they answer your questions pretty well.

False ecumenism is the discussion of religious differences for the sake merely of understanding and respecting one another.

True ecumenism is the discussion of religious differences for the sake of genuninely seeking the truth. Catholicism being true, this will, practically speaking, entail non-Catholics being built up towards the fullness of the faith.

It is not correct to say that false ecumenism recognizes elements of truths in false religions. On the contrary, true ecumenism recognizes these things and uses them as a starting point to work from in exploring the differences. In false ecumenism, these similarities and elements of truths in non-Catholic religions are recognized not as a starting off point, but as an end point: the similarities are viewed as a means by which the two faiths can coexist or have a communion without the need to address the differences.

Thanks everyone. Great answers.



True ecumenism is something promulgated before Vatican II.

False ecumenism is something promulgated from Vatican II or after.

Isn’t that the REAL tone of the question?


Bingo! Also, in reply to the originator of the question, there is a massive problem with your definition of true ecumenism: NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH!! One way to heaven, only invincible ignorance can prevent your damnation, but it does not save you in itself.

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