'MAD for Ecumenism': a new formation project for Centro Pro Unione

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'MAD for Ecumenism': a new formation project for Centro Pro Unione

By Elena Dini


ROME — “MAD for Ecumenism” is the captivating title of a new formation project offered by the Centro Pro Unione during its 50th-anniversary year. “MAD” stands for Mutual Accountability Desk, which is what the initiative wants to establish — a space for all Christian confessions willing to cooperate in this joint venture. “Mutual accountability” is an emerging ecumenical category, aimed at deepening the mutual knowledge and reliability between denominations.

“Some years ago, I had been researching and teaching on new emerging concepts in ecumenism, concepts which are increasingly present in the theological reflection about the paradigm shift that recently occurred within the ecumenical movement. Mutual accountability was one of these concepts and one that is gaining attention,” said Teresa Francesca Rossi, associate director of the Centro Pro Unione, in a recent interview with The Lay Centre.

This formation project offers different modules and each of them will focus on a specific theme: preaching, spiritual life, baptismal commitment, Biblical studies, and social/charity activities carried out together.

“Each module is open to all Christian denominations, though some bi-lateral privileged interactions relationships there can be singled out, according to the specific profile or interest of the various Christian communities involved,” Rossi explained.

Three keywords explicate the modalities of approach for this project: dislocation, sharing and spreading. Partners are free to work on the project independently, wherever they reside (dislocation), while having the possibility of sharing results, reflections and perspectives in plenary meetings (sharing). Finally, the initiative will produce a publication that includes the input of participants and the conclusions drawn throughout the process (spreading).

“Generally speaking, the project meets the expectations of Pope Francis’ invitation to Christians to walk together, facing difficulties and overcoming stereotypes and prejudices together, as well as to handcraft unity and peace,” said Rossi, while discussing the underpinnings for this initiative.

“A similar concern comes from the WCC (World Council of Churches) through General Secretary Dr Rev Olav Fykse Tveit, who recently emphasized mutual accountability as a lifestyle for churches that are not yet united,” she continued.

Dr Rev Tveit will present the “MAD for Ecumenism” initiative Nov. 15 during a plenary session, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Centro Pro Unione. The theme is, “What does it mean for Christians to be mutually accountable?”

The Centro Pro Unione is a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. Its mission “is to provide a solid base for research and ecumenical formation of pastoral agents by maintaining a highly specialized library in ecumenism and by various events, such as lectures by recognized authorities in the field of ecumenism and interreligious relations, and an annual summer course of introduction to the ecumenical and interreligious movements. In addition, the Centro provides materials for the annual celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” explained Father James Puglisi, SA, director of the Centro Pro Unione.

This year is also significant for the centre, which is marks its 50th anniversary; it is also the 120th anniversary of the Society of the Atonement, which has been praying and working for the reconciliation of churches for more than a century. The centre held many other anniversary events (see for more information).

Looking ahead, Rossi said “the first and foremost result” that is sought in carrying out the first module of MAD for Ecumenism “is to get familiar with the concept of mutual accountability and to contribute to its definition and clarification by means of a concrete mutual experience, in a sort of ‘learning by doing’ process.”

“MAD for Ecumenism” will begin at the Centro Pro Unione Nov. 15 a 5:30 p.m. Dr Rev Olav Fykse Tveit will present on the theme, “What does it mean for Christians to be mutually accountable?” For more information, go to

The Lay Centre VPI session, initially planned for this date, “Selflessness in the Age of Selfies,” presented by Lay Centre alumnus Filipe Domingues, was re-scheduled for Nov. 13 at 5 p.m., in support of our friends at Centro Pro Unione. 

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