This Vatican office, originally named the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, was established to assist the drafting committees of the Second Vatican Council. Following the Council, Pope Paul VI made it a permanent dicastery of the Roman Curia. With the constitution Pastor Bonus it was elevated to a Pontifical Council in 1988.
The Council exercises a double role. First of all, it is entrusted with the promotion, within the Catholic Church, of an authentic ecumenical spirit according to the conciliar decree Unitatis redintegratio; it was for this purpose that an Ecumenical Directory was published in 1967-1970 and a revised edition issued in 1993 entitled Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism. The Council carries out this task in liaison with the various departments of the Roman Curia, whose competence includes areas that can contribute similarly to the task of dialogue of the Catholic Church and should be put to the service of its relationships with all the Churches and ecclesial Communities.
At the same time, the Pontifical Council also aims to develop dialogue and collaboration with the other Churches and World Communions. Since its creation, it has also established a cordial cooperation with the World Council of Churches (WCC), whose headquarters are in Geneva. From 1968, twelve Catholic theologians have been members of the ‘Faith and Order’ Commission, the theological department of the WCC.
Similarly, it is the task of the PCPCU to name Catholic observers at various ecumenical gatherings and in its turn to invite observers or ‘fraternal delegates’ of other Churches or ecclesial Communities to major events of the Catholic Church.
See also documents authored by PCPCU
Letters, addresses, & greetings
Responses to Agreed Statements