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'Learning on the Way' Symposium - 2023

In late June 2023, the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) at Durham University held a two-day symposium, ‘Learning Together on the Way’, which explored the potential synergy between Synodality and Receptive Ecumenism.

The purpose was to put the CCS’s internationally-regarded work on Receptive Ecumenism in service of the synodal pathway on which the Catholic Church has embarked and to invite assistance with this task from theologians and leaders of six other major Christian traditions with significant historical presence in England and Wales.

As explored in the seven pre-circulated tradition-specific briefing papers (linked below), the key question throughout was ‘What can the Catholic Church learn from the understanding and experience of these Western Christian traditions as it seeks to become a more synodal church?’

Near-140 participants from across the participant traditions and the English and Welsh Catholic Church shared in the small-group discussion process that lay at the heart of the symposium and likewise contributed to the plenary reflections. These sessions were held in and around Durham, at the University, at Ushaw College, and at St Cuthbert’s Catholic Church.

As launch for the proceedings, the 2023 Bishop Dunn Memorial Lecture was presented by Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, Undersecretary of the Office of the Synod of Bishops, in which she explored the essential interrelationship between Ecumenism and Synodality.

Convened and led by Prof. Paul D. Murray and Dr Gregory A. Ryan, in collaboration with other CCS colleagues, the event was supported by: Porticus International, the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW), and the Newman Association.


Briefing Papers

Please note that the copyright for each of the briefing papers remains with the respective author. The intention is to publish the papers as an edited volume, together with a number of commissioned essays combining responses from the event and further analyses. No citation or reproduction should be made without permission, in which case the correct form of reference is as follows: Author, 'Paper Title', Briefing Paper for 'Learning on the Way' Symposium, Durham University, June 23-25, 2023. For any related queries or to register interest in receiving further details about the proposed project volume, please contact

Baptist Briefing Paper pdf - Paul S. Fiddes

Catholic Briefing Paper pdf - Gregory A. Ryan

Church of England Briefing Paper pdf - Callan Slipper

Methodist Briefing Paper pdf - Liz Kent

Pentecostal Briefing Paper pdf - Wolfgang Vondey

Quaker Briefing Paper pdf - Elaine Green

United Reform Church Briefing Paper pdf - Elizabeth Welch



Learning on the Way 2023 Symposium Programme


Participant Reflections

LotW Reflections - Callan Slipper

LotW Reflections - Elaine Green

LotW Reflections - Elizabeth Welch

LotW Reflections - Paul Fiddes

LotW Reflections - Anna Rowlands


Closing Synthesis

Paul Murray and Gregory Ryan put together a closing synthesis to highlight the main discussion points and explore ways in which each church can learn from the others.

Learning on the Way - Synthesis by Paul Murray and Gregory Ryan


Interview with Sr Nathalie Becquart

Bernadette Kehoe of the NBCW was granted an interview with Sr Nathalie during her stay in Durham. You can watch the interview at the link below:

Interview with Sr Nathalie


Image Gallery

Click to view a video slideshow of images taken during the Symposium.

Image slideshow


Papal Message for the Symposium

Click to view a pdf of a message sent from the Apostolic Nuncio at the Vatican, sharing Pope Francis' greetings and good wishes for the Symposium.

Papal Message for the Durham Symposium


Feature in The Tablet

The Tablet's Christopher Lamb was in attendance throughout the symposium, and wrote a two-page feature on the event.

You can read his report at the link below (please note that you will need to be registered with The Tablet to view the article):

Journeying together in synodality and ecumenism

If you are not registered with The Tablet online, you can view a pdf of the two-page spread at this link.