Member, Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III)
Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham University
Paul Murray is a systematic theologian
who has been on the faculty of Durham University’s Theology and Religion Department
since 2002 and director of its Centre for Catholic Studies
(CCS) since 2008. The CCS is the UK’s first permanent center devoted to
pioneering research and teaching in Catholic theology in the public academy.
He holds a BA and an MLitt in theology
(both from Durham), and his doctoral dissertation at Cambridge focused on
issues of post-foundationalism as they figure alike in contemporary American
pragmatist thought and contemporary theology. His current research interests
are in ecclesiology, ecclesial practice, and the dynamics of ecclesial
development, and these are reflected in his MA module at Durham, “Conceiving
Change in Contemporary Catholicism,” which contributes to the specialist
pathway in Catholic Studies through the MA in theological research. Closely
related to his current ecclesiological interests is a series of research
projects and international conferences on receptive ecumenism (a fresh strategy
for Christian ecumenism that takes long-term difference seriously), of which he
is the initiator and director.
His wider teaching and research interests
range from the interface between science and theology, political theology, the
doctrine of God, and contemporary Catholic theology. As regards broader
networks, he is a regular participant in the annual conferences of the Society
for the Study of Theology (treasurer 2003-2005) and the Catholic Theological
Association of Great Britain (president 2012-2014) as well as an occasional
participant in the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. From
2006-2011, he served on the editorial board of Concilium International.
In 2011, he was appointed by Pope Benedict
XVI to the third phase of work of the Anglican-Roman
Catholic International Commission
(ARCIC III) and in 2012 as a consultor to
Council for Justice and Peace
"Formal Ecumenism, Receptive Ecumenism, and the Diverse Local Churches of the Global Catholic Communion"
Receptive ecumenism is a fresh strategy in Christian ecumenism which recognizes that further progress toward structural and sacramental unity is indeed possible but only if each church/tradition (singly and jointly) makes a clear, programmatic shift from asking "What do the 'others' first need to learn from us?" to asking instead, "What do we
need to learn, and what can we learn (or receive) with integrity from the 'others'?"** This presentation aims to test and explore various assumptions related to receptive ecumenism such as
- Is it really the case that
ecumenism in the global South is in a fundamentally different place in all
regards to traditional bilateral ecumenism?
- Is it not at least the case that
the specifically ecclesiological focus of much of this formal ecumenism is of
abiding relevance from a Catholic (and Orthodox) perspective, albeit with
significant contextual differences?
- So, what does/would Catholic ecumenism look
like if the Catholic Church were really to take seriously the move towards
being a world church? Would Catholic ecumenism become a fundamentally different
animal? Or would something like the same animal become a multilingual citizen
of the world?
- How can the diverse experience and insights of the diverse local
Catholic churches of the world properly inform and re-shape Catholic ecumenism
for the 21st century?
- Most specifically of all, what contribution might "receptive ecumenism" have to make to the creative pursuit of
formal Catholic ecumenism in global South contexts?
**Adapted from Paul D. Murray, "Introducing Receptive Ecumenism," The Ecumenist 51:2 (Spring 2014) 1. To download the full article as a PDF, click here.