Ecumenical Engagements

The Catholic tradition teaches us that we need to work for the restoration of Christian unity. At St Augustine we seek to establish and foster ecumenical relationships with other Christians and we take seriously Christ’s prayer that ‘may they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me’ (Jn 17:21).

We work cooperatively with the Anglican, Reformed, Lutheran and Greek Orthodox communities and seek to do so with other Christian denominations. We are especially concerned about efforts that will benefit the common good of society; and work for peace, justice and reconciliation. Being ecumenically open and mission-oriented, St Augustine fosters Christian efforts aimed at building peace and social justice through its collaboration with the Jesuit Institute South Africa, the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, the Spirituality Association of South Africa (SPIRASA), as well as other organisations, both local and international.   

Furthermore, we respect other religious traditions and welcome opportunities to collaborate with others in interreligious projects that will benefit those who are most in need. St Augustine contributes to these efforts by organising ecumenical and interreligious events, symposia and conferences. We also have worked with Turquoise Harmony Institute, the Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue in Parktown, and the representatives of other faiths. In the long-term, St Augustine aspires to create a platform for Christian and interfaith dialogue in South Africa.

Among many examples of St Augustine's firm commitment to ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, four events that took place at the College deserve special attention:

In January 2015, St Augustine hosted Professor Paul D. Murray, of Durham University, who is a world-renowned Roman Catholic theologian and the pioneer of the so called "Receptive Ecumenism" (a fresh strategy for Christian ecumenism that takes long-term difference seriously). Prof Murray delivered an excellent and stimulating talk on major trends in contemporary ecumenical movement, with a particular focus on his own project: "Receptive Ecumenism." You can read more about his talk here.

In November 2014, Dr Nontando Hadebe, an African Catholic theologian from St Augustine College, and Mrs Najma Khota, an African Muslim journalist, offered a fascinating talk on "Women's Maze: Negotiating Female Identity between Religion, Culture & Constitution." You can read more about this lecture here.

In October 2015, a conversation between Fr John Enslin, SJ, and Rabbi Sa'ar Shaked of Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue, Parktown, was held at St Augustine to mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council. The speakers focused on the question how Nostra Aetate has transformed Jewish-Catholic relations. More about this event can be read here.

In October 2014, St Augustine's Department of Theology invited theologians representing various Christian denominations to share their views on the recent Synod on Family that took place in Rome as well as the most topical issues regarding the situation of families in South Africa from the viewpoint of their respective traditions. The invited speakers included: Fr Petros Parginos from the Orthodox Church, Prof Graham Duncan from the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, Mrs Alice Mugglestone from the Anglican Church and Dr Anthony Egan, SJ, from the Roman Catholic Church. You can read more about this event here.