Chicago, IL (June 20, 2012) – Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, has appointed Rev. Thomas A. Baima to the new Archdiocesan role as Vicar for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, effective July 1, 2012. In his new role, Fr. Baima will be the principal representative of the Archbishop of Chicago to the bishops and religious leaders of other churches and communities in Metropolitan Chicago, while continuing his full-time responsibilities as Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary and as the Archbishop’s Liaison for Formation Programs in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“I have asked Fr. Baima to take on this additional responsibility because of his extensive relationships with the leadership of Chicago’s ecumenical and interreligious community,” said Cardinal George. “The ecumenical movement is going through an evolution, reconnecting with its roots in mission. Both in his long experience and in his recent scholarly work with missional ecumenism, Fr. Baima will bring the vision I believe is right for the next phase of ecumenical work in the Archdiocese.”
The author of two books on ecumenism, Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper and The Concordat of Agreement Between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: Lessons on the Way Toward Full Communion, as well as numerous articles and essays, Baima has held appointments by the Holy See to the Assyrian/Catholic International Consultation and by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Muslim/Catholic Consultation.
Baima, who was Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs from 1992 to 1996, is a full professor of systematic theology at Mundelein Seminary. He is also an adjunct professor of ecumenical theology at the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University and Fellow in the Christian Leaders Initiative at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. Baima did undergraduate studies in religion and philosophy from Butler University and seminary and graduate studies at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. He holds a doctorate in ecumenical studies from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
“Ecumenism has been my life’s work, both as a practitioner and a scholar,” said Baima regarding his appointment. “I am very glad to again be associated with the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, even if only in a limited capacity. The Office has a renowned place in the history of the ecumenical movement, for which the Archdiocese can be rightly proud.”
“We look forward to again working closely with Fr. Baima,” said Sr. Joan McGuire, OP, Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. “His extensive network of relationships, both in Chicago and internationally, will be a great benefit to the Archdiocesan ecumenical efforts.” Sr. McGuire, OP, will continue as Director of the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Office.
The Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs’ mission is to foster the ecumenical goal of the visible unity of Christians, to deepen interfaith relations with Jews and Muslims and to nurture understanding among all religious groups through dialogue, formation, prayer, and collaboration in civic affairs. More information about the Office can be found at www.archchicago.org/departments/ecumenical.