Saints without Borders

Ecumenical Reflections on the Great Cloud of Witnesses

47th International Ecumenical Seminar, July 3-10, 2013

At first glance, the saints seem to be one of the major dividing issues between Roman Catholics and the Orthodox on one side and Protestants on the other, with Anglicans perhaps lying somewhere in between. But as with many other matters, a great deal has changed in all of our churches since the dawn of the ecumenical movement. The Catholic canonization process has undergone a great deal of reform. Protestants are beginning to recognize a place for the veneration (if not invocation) of the saints in their own practice. Ecumenical pioneers and leaders have earned admiration and affection outside of their home churches. The common experience of martyrdom in situations of war and persecution has taught the churches greater respect for Christians who have given their lives for Christ outside of their own confessional boundaries. And there is a widespread sense that today’s Christians, living in a vastly changed situation from Christians of the past, are longing for different kinds of role models in the task of living out their faith in the world, which invites a broad reconsideration of sanctity in human lives. At this Seminar, we heard from Christians across the ecumenical spectrum discussing the meaning of hagiography for today and the importance of models in the Christian life, as well as introducing us to some lesser-known saints whose example and faith can provide inspiration for Christians of all different backgrounds.