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This is the fifteenth and penultimate post in a sequence about ecumenical formation.
Ecumenism is about relationships between people. Social capital makes a distinction between bonding and bridging relationships. The former take place within a group and builds up capital as people learn to trust one another. Bridging capital is between groups and is the more challenging of the two. It is challenging because it demands mutual respect for church cultures that have evolved over many years.
Ecumenism is a sign of genuine church. How do we know any given church is part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church? One sign is its ability to hold its own people together despite their theological differences and another is recognition of other traditions as brothers and sisters of the same faith.
So, in formation we see the two movements of roots down and walls down. These are not necessarily sequential. Although bonding capital needs to be developed first, Christians will return to their own traditions, frequently as they regularly participate and deliberately as they bring new questions to ask of their own tradition.
But the encounter with others is crucial because it raises questions as it brings us into new relationships with God. As we debate, the spirit is at work and brings us into new truths. The ecumenical church grows through the sum of all these conversations.