Pro Unione

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Centro Pro Unione

We had our first meeting of the ecumenical section tonight, in the famous Centro Pro Unione.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj at Piazza Navona

At the Angelicum, there are four ‘Faculties’: Theology, Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Canon Law. The Theology Faculty, being by far the largest, is further divided into sections: Biblical Theology, Dogmatic Theology, Thomist Theology, Spiritual Theology, Moral Theology, and Ecumenical Theology.

By reputation, at least, the two pillars of the Angelicum are its Thomist and Ecumenical sections. Part of the reason I decided to study here, in fact, is that it is the only specifically ecumenical licentiate/doctoral program offered by a Catholic university, and one of only three in the English speaking world (the others being at the Ecumenical Institute of the WCC at Bossey, Switzerland and the Irish School of Ecumenics in Dublin).

James Puglisi, SA, Director of Centro Pro Unione

The ecumenical section is coordinated by James Puglisi, SA, the Minister General of the Franciscian Friars of the Atonement and director of the Centro Pro Unione. The Centro serves as the library for the ecumenical section, being the most complete ecumenical library in the world since its inception in 1962. It is located in the Collegium Innocenzium, part of the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj overlooking Piazza Navona. Originally the guest house for the family, part of it then became a house of hospitality named Foyer Unitas, run by the Ladies of Bethany, and the rest a place for the ecumenical observers at Vatican II to gather, named the Centro Pro Unione.

The main meeting room is therefore steeped in history, both Roman and ecumenical. As the guest house of the noble family, this room is where Vivaldi first performed his “four seasons” after the premier in Florence. Franz List and Caruso played here, and so many others. During Vatican II, this room, with a grand view of the Piazza and its fountain, is where the ecumenical observers would gather with bishops and peritii for their weekly briefing, and where some of the most important texts of the council were born or developed: Gaudium et Spes, Unitatis Redintegratio, Nostra Aetate, and Dignitatis Humanae.

There were 21 members of the section present or accounted for, and I am not sure how many others there may be. Six are from Africa, four from India, three each from the Philippines, Eastern Europe, and North America, one Italian and one Australian. One-third are lay, and two-thirds are priests; no religious and no deacons. There is currently only one woman (and she is technically in Philosophy, not Theology, but as a Russell Berrie Fellow is included in the section too).

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