Tantur Ecumenical Institute
“I really expect that there will be one Christian Church in the years ahead, one characterized by unity, but not by uniformity.”
—Father Hesburgh, in The Hesburgh Papers*
Pope Paul VI, with whom Father Hesburgh had a relationship of trust, aspired to build Christian unity and envisioned an institute that would work toward greater ecumenical understanding and collaboration. He wanted to build a permanent ecumenical institute in Jerusalem.
Building upon Father Hesburgh's presidency of the Federation of Catholic Universities at the time, the pope asked him to spearhead the project. Father Hesburgh settled on a site that was between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, overlooking both cities. After ecumenical consultations and planning that continued for seven years, the Tantur Ecumenical Institute was opened in 1972 on land owned by the Vatican and leased to Notre Dame. That institute continues today to offer a range of programs to enhance dialogue, spiritual experience, and scholarship, including study-abroad programs for Notre Dame students.
*Hesburgh, Theodore Martin. The Hesburgh Papers: Higher Values in Higher Education. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1979. Print.