Minna Hietamäki

 hietamaki-m Minna Hietamäki, Post-doctoral researcher
Ecumenical Recognition: Forms, Challenges and Opportunities

“Recognition” has been the explicit goal of the Faith and Order –oriented modern ecumenical movement since its beginning in the 1920s. “Recognition” is an under researched theological topic. Some research articles have been published in recent years but their approach is primarily descriptive with little or no problematizing and analysis of the concept itself.

A thorough analysis of the notion of ecumenical recognition is crucial for the ecumenical movement. Despite intermediary achievements the ultimate goal of ecumenism seems further and further away. This has caused significant frustration. The relevance of the intermediary achievements cannot be evaluated because there is no shared perception of ecumenical recognition as a wider phenomenon. Various ecumenical approaches are perceived contradictory and competitive.

My aim is to offer conceptual tools for investigating a multifaceted phenomenon of ecumenical recognition. This approach would help solving some of the traditional dichotomies, such as the dichotomy between theoretical/doctrinal and practical approach that have caused controversies within the ecumenical movement.

At this moment it seems plausible to approach the phenomenon of ecumenical recognition through four dimensions. These are (1) the relational context of the act of recognition (A recognizes B as X) which deals with the nature and status of the one recognizing and the one being recognized, the motivation and direction of motivation and the acts allowed and forbidden in the relationship; (2) the adequacy or accuracy of recognition concentrating on the correct identification and issues of identity; (3) the acknowledgement of convictions and practises including discussion on forms of acceptance and approval and their relevance to the church, and; (4) the post-recognition changed social reality for the churches, including issues of legitimacy of diversity on toleration of otherness.