Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue

Council for Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

This council comes under the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education and Formation

Members of the Council

Bishop Larry Duffy (Chairman)
Bishop Brendan Leahy

Advisory Committee on Ecumenism

Dr Gary Carville
Columba Centre, Maynooth, Co Kildare
Tel 01-5053000
Email [email protected]


The main purpose of the Council for Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue is to service the various ecumenical bodies, both national and international. From it is provided the Catholic membership of:

  • the Inter-Church Meeting – see explanation below and
  • the Inter-Church Committee 
  • the Standing Committee on Mixed Marriages
  • Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Members of the Council for Ecumenism of the Irish Episcopal Conference have served on the:

  • Working Group of the World Council of Churches
  • Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU)
  • International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM)
  • PCPCU Dialogue with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC)

They also prepare materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

When international bodies wish to consult the Conference on ecumenical matters this is usually carried out via the Ecumenism Council.


Advisory Committee on Ecumenism

The Bishops’ Conference Advisory Committee on Ecumenism was set up after the Second Vatican Council that saw the restoration of unity among all Christians as one of its principal concerns.

All Diocesan Officers of Ecumenism are members of the Advisory Committee along with others appointed by the Bishops’ Conference to the Committee based on their competence and experience in the ecumenical field. Bishop Lawrence Duffy is currently the Chairman. Dr Gary Carville is the secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is an advisory body to the bishops on ecumenical affairs in Ireland and maintains contact with the the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome.

The Advisory Committee’s work is carried out mainly at the local level by individual ecumenical officers. It meets once a year to review ecumenical developments and share news.

Contact Details

Dr Gary Carville
Bishop’s House
Tel: +353 (0) 47 81019
Email: [email protected] 

Relevant documents on Ecumenism

2022: Ecumenism in a Time of Pandemic: From Crisis to Opportunity (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity 2022)
2020: The Bishops and Christian Unity: An Ecumenical Vademecum
2017: Walking Together on the Way – An Agreed Statement of the Third Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III)
2004: Press conference for the presentation of the Conference organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Decree on Ecumenism
1998: One Bread One Body – A teaching document on the Eucharist in the life of the Church,
and the establishment of general norms on sacramental sharing
1997: The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of those Engaged in Pastoral Work
1995: Ut unum sint
1993: Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism
1964: Unitatis Redintegratio 

Irish Inter-Church Meeting and ecumenical updates

In 1973 in the midst of the Troubles, the Catholic Church and the Irish Council of Churches began historic talks in Ballymascanlon, Co Louth, which over the course of time became formalised as the Irish Inter-Church Meeting.

The meeting is coordinated by the Inter-Church Committee which meets four times a year. This committee is formed from the leadership of the Churches made up of 50/50 representation from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Council. It is co–chaired by Bishop Brendan Leahy, Roman Catholic Bishop of Limerick, and the President of the Irish Council of Churches.

For an update on ecumenical news see

Inter-Religious Dialogue

The Advisory Committee on Inter-Religious Dialogue

In 2019 the Irish Bishops Conference established an Advisory Committee on Inter-Religious Dialogue. Its terms of reference are as follows:

  • To advise the Bishops Conference on issues relating to dialogue with leaders and members of other non-Christian religious traditions in Ireland;
  • To advise the Bishops Conference on how best to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of others religious traditions;
  • To consider developments and documents issuing from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue;
  • To liaise with the Council of Catechetics in encouraging the study of religions;
  • To promote the formation of Diocesan personnel dedicated to inter-religious dialogue.

Relevant documents on Inter-Religious Dialogue

2019: Pope Francis – A document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together
1991: Dialogue and Proclamation 
1965: Nostrae Aetate (Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions)

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Inter-Religious Dialogue