Date of Submission



Receptive Ecumenism is a fresh ecumenical approach that has immense potential. However, precisely what Receptive Ecumenism is, and how it is significant, remains unclear. This thesis argues that Receptive Ecumenism has the potential to reinvigorate ecumenism because it is a form of Spiritual Ecumenism. To date, no systematic investigation has been undertaken on explicating Receptive Ecumenism in relation to Spiritual Ecumenism. This study investigates Receptive Ecumenism’s development from what we term the Spiritual Ecumenical Movement. We focus on the key themes of interior conversion; ecclesial learning; pneumatology; the ecumenical gift exchange; the affective levels of ecumenical engagement; and the virtues of humility and hope. We draw on the work of key figures, including: Paul Couturier, Yves Congar, Vatican II, Ut Unum Sint, Walter Kasper, and Margaret O’Gara. The introductory chapter addresses the research proposal, literature review, methodology, and the study’s scope and limitations. The next chapter undertakes an in-depth examination of Receptive Ecumenism’s primary source material. Chapter Three investigates the roots of Receptive Ecumenism within the Spiritual Ecumenical Movement, and defines Spiritual Ecumenism’s key features. Next, we give particular attention to the themes of humility and hope as constituting essential virtues within Spiritual and Receptive Ecumenism. The fifth chapter examines the connection between Receptive and Spiritual Ecumenism as complementary. Chapter Six asserts Receptive Ecumenism’s potential and effectiveness, as well as the challenges facing its successful implementation. The conclusion proposes seven critical reflections for Receptive Ecumenism, and areas for further research. The research resulted in two key findings: 1) Receptive Ecumenism is an advanced form of ecumenical engagement, which has the potential to reinvigorate contemporary ecumenism because it is a form of Spiritual Ecumenism; and 2) Ecumenical renewal requires tapping into Spiritual Ecumenism, which is underdeveloped. Ecumenism is not just a theological endeavour, or a practical mission, but is also a spiritual and affective experience, of the heart and soul.


School of Theology

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


359 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Theology and Philosophy