This Vatican II decree relates to the seven non-Latin, non-Roman eastern Catholic ecclesial traditions (as distinct from the Eastern Orthodox Churches which are still separate from Rome since the East-West Schism) − Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic, Ethiopian, East Syrian (Chaldean) West Syrian and Maronite. Each of these is a Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome; none is a Roman Catholic Church.
The decree proclaims the equality of the Eastern and Western traditions of Christianity (note 3) as well as the importance of preserving the spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches (note 5). The decree is still very much a Latin text about the Eastern tradition (notes 7-23), but it clearly manifests an ardent desire for reconciliation with the separated churches of the East and opens the door from Rome’s side to common Eucharistic sharing (notes 24-29).
Decree on Ecumenism
The church is called to be a sacrament of Christ and the unity of the triune God who is present within the church (note 2). We are brothers and sisters through baptism and many other things such as scriptures (note 3). The immediate path to unity is through reform and renewal (note 6). There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart (note 7). This change of heart may express itself at times even in joint celebration of the Eucharist. Although it is not simply a means of unity to be employed indiscriminately, Eucharistic sharing may at times be necessary for gaining the grace of unity (note 8). In the meantime, ecumenism also requires theological collaboration, dialogue and joint study, as well as cooperation in social action (notes 9-12).
It speaks of the ecumenical moment as one of seeking the restoration of Christian unity rather than a return of non-Catholics to the already existing unity of the Catholic Church: it acknowledges the ecclesial reality of other Christian communities, which share the same sacred scriptures, the same life of grace, the same faith, hope and charity, the same gifts of the Holy Spirit, the same baptism, and many other common elements which constitute the church; and it admits, finally, that both sides were to blame for the divisions that ruptured the church at the time of the Reformation (notes 20-23). It concludes by urgently desiring ‘that the initiatives of the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church, joined with those of the separated brethren, go forward without obstructing the ways of divine providence and without prejudging the future inspiration of the Holy Spirit.’