(Bishop of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria)
Our approach to ecumenism in our bid for the unity of all Christians should haven an African dimension considering the mushroom growth of African instituted Churches and various sects in Africa today.
An area of concern is that the vast majority of the non-Catholic but Christian Churches do take their separation stance as a mark of self-assertion and independence, and further still they mistakenly see our ecumenical approach as a sign of the recognition and approval of the status quo as normal. Our fraternal relations with other Churches and ecclesial communities not in full union with the Catholic Church are being misinterpreted. They still do not see a need for the reconsideration of their stand, but now believing that we Catholics have come to accept them as such. In spite of all our efforts, they continue to generate further splinter Churches.
This phenomenon may be due to the fact that Africa was not involved in the rifts and dissensions which gave birth to the ruptures in the Body of Christ, the Church, ruptures that brought about divisions among Christians generating many Christian denominations, later imported to Africa. And when the so many denominations arrived the adherents take theirs for granted without any research into why and wherefore of the divisions.
Though the New Directly for the Application of Principles and Norms lay stress on the education of our faithful at the grassroots, this cannot be expected to cover the grounds of misconceptions among the non-Catholic Christians. I believe there is a need to find a way of enlightening the separated brethren and the new separatists among whom the spirit of separatism is becoming endemic.
Any meaningful theological dialogue seems to be possible only with the traditional established Anglican and Protestant Churches. Almost all the African Instituted Churches in their wake lack and need the basic Christian doctrine and accurate doctrinal information. And since dialogue involves both listening and replying, seeking both to understand and to be understood, we need to find a base for this fundamental need.
In conclusion, I am trying to say that without some other preliminary approach to the reality of the African instituted Churches and to the sects as found in Africa, ecumenism will hardly bear the required results. Without a well worked out adaptation, dialogue per se may be likened to a dialogue between a trained doctor and a witch doctor on a unified practice of health delivery.
Original text: ENGLISH