Shrines: not for Catholics only. I’d like to think it goes without saying, but the Church says it:
277. The shrine, as a place of proclamation of the Word, of call to conversion, of intercession, of intense liturgical life, and of charitable works, is, to a certain extent, a “spiritual benefit” shared with our brothers and sisters not in full communion with the Catholic Church, in accord with the norms of the Ecumenical Directory (Cf. Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Directoire pour l’application des Principes et des Normes sur L’Oecuménisme (25.3.1993): AAS 85 (1993) 1039-1119).
“Ecumenical commitment” is cited. What does that mean? How committed must we be?
In this sense, the shrine is called to be a place of ecumenical commitment, fully aware of the grave and urgent need for the unity of those who believe in Christ, the one Lord and Savior.
Rectors of shrines will therefore make pilgrims aware of that “spiritual ecumenism” of which Unitatis redintegratio (n. 8) and the Directory on Ecumenism (n. 25) speak, and which should be constantly remembered by the faithful in their prayers, in the celebration of the Eucharist and in their daily lives (Cf. Directory on Ecumenism 27). Prayers for Christian unity should therefore be intensified in shrines especially during the week of prayer for Christian unity, as well as on the solemnities of the Ascension and Pentecost, in which we remember the community of Jerusalem united in prayer while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit to confirm their unity and their universal mission(Cf. Directory on Ecumenism 110).
This is nothing different and no less the commitment Catholics are urged to in our own parishes, families, and other faith communities. Shrines should take care to keep with the program–that is all.
Shrines should also be prepared to offer a more concrete witness, should The Holy Spirit nudge toward ecumenical prayer:
Were the opportunity to arise, the rectors of shrines should encourage prayer meetings for Christians from various confessions from time to time. These meetings should be carefully and collaboratively prepared. The Word of God should be preeminent in them and they should include prayers drawn from the various Christian denominations.
A good final point to keep in mind:
In certain circumstance, and by way of exception, attention may be given to persons of different religions: some shrines, indeed, are visited by non-Christians who go there because of the values inherent in Christianity. All acts of worship taking place in a shrine must always be clearly consistent with the Catholic faith, without ever attempting to obfuscate anything of the content of the Church’s faith.
Catholic shrines indeed attract a wide swath of people. We shouldn’t be surprised. We should also conduct ourselves in such a way as to welcome such persons, present the faith well, and be available for dialogue. Are we always prepared to accompany others? That’s a message not just for the shrine, but for the committed Christian. As with exemplary liturgy, shrines are called to do no less for the cause of ecumenism and Christian unity.
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.